[permaculture] Fwd: [New post] Deep Time and Constraint-Based Design

Lawrence London lfljvenaura at gmail.com
Sat Jun 20 12:19:37 EDT 2015

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: permaculturethinktank <comment-reply at wordpress.com>
Date: Sat, Jun 20, 2015 at 12:11 PM
Subject: [New post] Deep Time and Constraint-Based Design

   permaculturethinktank posted: "My lifetime is pretty short, but the
ramification of the design journey I am choosing to embark on will effect
things long after my time ends.  Permaculture is very much meant to be
permanent, it is supposed to last a long time, that is what I am
trying t"    Respond
to this post by replying above this line
      New post on *permaculturethinktank*
Time and Constraint-Based Design

My lifetime is pretty short, but the ramification of the design journey I
am choosing to embark on will effect things long after my time ends.
Permaculture is very much meant to be permanent, it is supposed to last a
long time, that is what I am trying to wrap my head around as I learn from
day to day.

Site analysis and assessment is something that is undertaken by everyone
after obtaining agency at any kind of site.  It is the basic skeleton on
which designs can be puttied on top of.  The more robust the skeleton, the
tighter the design.  The skeleton is realized from the observations of the
designer, the flashlight of consciousness unveils the skeleton as it
observes separate parts within the massive structure.

My time is short, but I am designing for eternity.

Site A&A is an eternal affair, it is a constant relationship between the
individual and the non-individual, i.e. the site.  Change is inevitable.
As things change, the patterns are emergent.  Within the patterns lie the
keys to better design and more conscious decision making.  So when I am
first getting onto a site I am doing a lot of unrecorded and relatively
unattached observation, to get the gist or the lay of the land.  It isn't
long though before I begin to do site A&A, and then the work is never done.

*Exhaustive Site A&A*

I am a proponent of a highly exhaustive and dynamic site A&A.  This kind of
A&A ultimately serves as the toolbox of patterns and data to which a
designer can realize more design goals.  Because of the idea that
permaculture is aspiring to be permanent, the exhaustive nature of A&A is
crucial.  My own personal design method is constraint-based.  Constraints
are determined by site A&A.  Patterns elicited from site A&A create real
constraints that can then determine parts of the design.  It is more about
what one cannot do on site rather than what one can do on site.

With modern economic constraints for professional designers and typical
time-based constraints for non-professional designers, it is difficult to
do such a lengthy A&A.  However, the ideal still remains.

*Past/Present/Future Patterning*

There are patterns of past, patterns of present, and patterns of future to
be realized through observation and recording on site.  Each aspect of time
has it's own types of recording methods and attributes which I will outline


Patterns of the past generally deal with things that have occurred and have
shaped the site to be what it is today.  Examples of patterns of the past
are paleo-climatology, land use history, and phylogeny.  The Scale of
Permanence has aspects that exist in the past like climate and landform.
By taking on a study of patterns of the past for a site, one may find
helpful constraints that can inform design in the present.  For example,
when looking at the phylogeny of Rhus typhina (or Staghorn Sumac) I can
determine what kinds of things would work better on a site that has a lot
of the plant growing on it.  Right now I am working on a site that grows it
prolifically, which cause constraints with managing the stands.  A better
example would be an event that happened in the past the prevents certain
design in the present.  This is more apparent with sites that have
pollution or a real serious limiting factor.  After examining patterns of
past, one should be able to elicit both constraints, opportunities, and


Patterns of present deal with A&A elements that are changing more rapidly
like vegetation/wildlife, microclimate, zones of use, soil management, and
aesthetics.  Patterns of present also deal with observations of patterns
that are accrued on a daily basis like phenology.  Phenology is recording
annual events as they occur on site like budding, fruiting, flowering,
first sighting of fauna and etc.  By recording events like this one can get
a really good understanding of how the climate is changing on site.  It can
be incredibly important to have many of these datasets since official
governmental climate studies use phenological records from individuals to
understand how climate has changed.  Though there are not many...so we have
predictions based on the writings of Henry David Thoreau and only a handful
of others.  The present is where most of the constraints will be discovered.


Patterns of future are based on the past and present and can be a rewarding
exercise to brainstorm about.  It is worth spending time to try to predict
constraints that may occur in the future and how to begin to mitigate those
constraints in the present.  For example, if I understand that short-term
drought is to become more of a reality in Massachusetts with changing
climate I should definitely be planning for a more robust water catchment
and transportation system on the site.  I would take the drawbacks of
overbuilding my water system if it meant that I would hardly experience
consequences of lack of water which could be potentially much worse.


I am looking to measure as much as possible on site that will provide me
patterns on how to design the site to function better.  While it may take a
while to construct the system of data collection, I ultimately think that
the extra effort will pay dividends in the future.  The site-specific
document that I create with an exhaustive site A&A will be authoritative
when dealing with the site and instructive as an analog for sites that
experience similar conditions.  No longer will people who live in the area
of my site have to rely on aggregate data based on large systems, they can
see what kind of energies are occurring near their own site.

Site A&A, to me, needs to be exhaustive, dynamic, and site-centric wherever
possible to be able to inform not only the designers on the site but also
anyone who is curious to learn what the document entails.
| June 20, 2015 at 4:11 pm | Tags: Analysis
<https://permaculturethinktank.wordpress.com/?tag=analysis>, Constraints
<https://permaculturethinktank.wordpress.com/?tag=constraints>, Design
<https://permaculturethinktank.wordpress.com/?tag=design>, Future
<https://permaculturethinktank.wordpress.com/?tag=future>, Past
<https://permaculturethinktank.wordpress.com/?tag=past>, Patterns
<https://permaculturethinktank.wordpress.com/?tag=patterns>, Present
<https://permaculturethinktank.wordpress.com/?tag=present>, Site A&A
<https://permaculturethinktank.wordpress.com/?tag=site-aa>, Site-Centric
<https://permaculturethinktank.wordpress.com/?tag=site-centric> |
Categories: General Permaculture
<https://permaculturethinktank.wordpress.com/?cat=16578599>, Site Assessment
<https://permaculturethinktank.wordpress.com/?cat=1603766> | URL:

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Lawrence F. London
lfljvenaura at gmail.com

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