Permaculture Principles: Design Process

* Love Green Permaculture: Permaculture Principles. Berg & Dal: Permaculture Design Course. Permaculture Principles: Permaculture Principles.

Permaculture Principles

Love Green Permaculture


The Design Process

Permaculture is a Design System that is completely process driven. By following the process, which is very specific an effective permaculture design will be the end result. Permaculture design is a science, it is about discovering and unearthing the reality of the people and place and integrating them into a unique pattern that blends landscape and people effectively into a highly productive self-regulating cultivated ecosystem. Design emerges, it is not imposed or is based on opinion, such as conventional landscaping. Through the application of the permaculture design process, a reality emerges, which is the scientifically most appropriate approach to take towards creating a regenerative system considering the human and landscape context. Permaculture Design is not an opinion or a template but rather a creative discovery that brings together tools and approaches from multiple disciplines and integrates them into a seamless approach.

The language of permaculture design is a pattern language and the process of design enables the designer to firstly identify the patterns that exist in the site under design and then to apply patterns onto the site to achieve specific goals and outcomes.  This pattern application is harmonic and harmonises with the landscape, it is never forced. As soon as you push landscape out of form your pushing against massive energies and forces that will win, but if you work with it you have the biggest opportunity for working with universal energies. It is through careful observation you recognise the patterns and evolutions, act on them and make adjustments as they dynamically change.

The Design Process has 2 major aspects…

The Observation Phase

The Design Phase


Observation Phase

Before a design can happen understanding of the people and landscape context is needed. Here the principle of Observe and Interact is the defining prisim through which we are working and we do not design or impose ideas but rather absorb and discover. There are a scale of processes that are applied that enable the designer to become aware of the opportunities and challenges present in the environment they are designed for. This phase requires us to generate knowledge of the climate context, the objective aspects of the land itself such as soils, water sources, land-shape, vegetation, existing infrastructures, wildlife patterns, what is happening around the site, the influences on the site from energies around it, services available to the site, local and regional resources, regulations, etc. These are mapped in layers to reveal specific patterns and characteristics that inform our design.

We also need to understand our context or the context we are designing for and so develop a Holistic Context for the site which frames the design. The Holistic Context captures the Qualtiy of Life that the residents/members wish to live and which the design should support.


The Design Phase

Once we have all the base data we need the design actually starts to suggest itself and through applying the design process we will tease the design out from the relevant data we have gathered.

Design starts with the principle of “Patterns to Details” by creating a mainframe that holds the details of the design. Good design follows the Keyline Scale of Permanence as a process to inform where to begin and how to unfold the design.

We will start by defining what components make up the design (water infrastructures, roads, productions systems, structures, fencing, energy generating systems, etc), that we extract from the Holistic Context and other data sets and layer them into the design based on analysis processes. We start with the aspects that have the greatest influence and are the hardest to establish, that will inform further detail. For example, we always start with largescale water infrastructures such as dams and swales, which inform access, fencing, where we place perennial production systems that are tree-based, and the placement of buildings and so on, until we have brought the design down to the level of detail we need to begin implementing.

The design is captured in a series of map layers as well as in an accompanying document explaining the layouts and patterns in the maps. This can take the form of word, powerpoint, spreadsheets, mindmaps and more.

The design is never static and is always evolving based on the constant influx of new information and ideas, so we always keep the design simple and flexible.