Tag Archives: systems

Permaculture Design Process – 5. Choosing systems & elements

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by Aranya


So having identified the key functions that we are going to design for, we are now
going to think about the best ways to fulfil them. Ideally, we only include
something (a system or element) in our design if it fulfils at least three functions.
Remember the ecological principle: Multiple functions for each element. Nature
happens to be so productive, because everything performs many functions.

The process

Taking each of your chosen functions in turn, write down all the ways you can
think of to (realistically) achieve them. Obviously disregard anything that is clearly
way beyond budget, or an inappropriate scale (too big or small) for the purpose.
When you are done you should have three or four lists, one for each function.

You will probably find that some of the things you thought of are on several of
your lists. Go through them again and see which other of the systems and elements
you thought of also perform any of the other functions. This identifies some
strong possibilities, though you will still have to make sure that they are suited to
the site conditions and other client requirements (do they fit in with the client’s
values?) before deciding upon including them in your design.

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Permaculture Design Process – 4. Identifying functions

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By Aranya


This is the stage where we identify what will be the focus of the design. We take what we have learned from the client interview(s) & determine what key functions are required (there may be many, but some will be more a priority than others).

When we visit somewhere new, we often start redesigning that space in our heads, based upon things we have seen in other places, things that we would prefer if it were ours. This redesign usually takes the form of the imaginary placement of objects, be they plants, animals, tools etc. While aspects of this initial assessment may turn out to be good, each new space has its own unique set of circumstances & is best approached as such. Bill Mollison has a saying; ‘Vujà dé’ – the feeling that you have never been in this situation before – & that is the best way to approach each new design.

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