I think the Architecture context today has been talking much about Vertical Farming, or Green Building and a never-ending list of benefits on why we should bring the farm into our building. Besides all the carbon footprint saving on transporting logistics and also quality control, many would understand how this incorporate into the green design directly. But little did we know that this direction we are talking about is what some others who are not in the Architecture world have been talking about too.
PERMACULTURE is an approach to design human settlements and agricultural systems together into one. It also means Permanent Agriculture, that aims to create a stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, a system of design where cradle to cradle is practiced, where each element supports and feeds other elements, ultimately aiming at systems that are virtually self-sustaining.
I don’t think it’s a concept hard to be understood. It’s something same long ago when human settlements are not defined by walls and blocks but we live in natural environments like caves and we will see how our human waste help the plants to grow, and how the harvested plants provide our food. This is what we say
Sustainability is not a linear process, but a never ending cycle process that ensures every need is provided by itself.
You could read more about How Permaculture came about from Wiki. Mollison, the developer of the term, has described permaculture as “a philosophy of working with, rather than against nature; of protracted and thoughtful observation rather than protracted and thoughtless labor; and of looking at plants and animals in all their functions, rather than treating any area as a single project system.“[
In many contexts, this term seems to draw a common line with agroforestry, green architecture, sustainable development. In PermaCulture, 3 core values are introduced.
- Care of People
- Care of The Earth
- Setting Limits to Consumption and Population
And also Permaculture has its own design tool.
- Observe and interact: By taking the time to engage with nature we can design solutions that suit our particular situation.
- Catch and store energy: By developing systems that collect resources at peak abundance, we can use them in times of need.
- Obtain a yield: Ensure that you are getting truly useful rewards as part of the work that you are doing.
- Apply self-regulation and accept feedback: We need to discourage inappropriate activity to ensure that systems can continue to function well.
- Use and value renewable resources and services: Make the best use of nature’s abundance to reduce our consumptive behavior and dependence on non-renewable resources.
- Produce no waste: By valuing and making use of all the resources that are available to us, nothing goes to waste.
- Design from patterns to details: By stepping back, we can observe patterns in nature and society. These can form the backbone of our designs, with the details filled in as we go.
- Integrate rather than segregate: By putting the right things in the right place, relationships develop between those things and they work together to support each other.
- Use small and slow solutions: Small and slow systems are easier to maintain than big ones, making better use of local resources and producing more sustainable outcomes.
- Use and value diversity: Diversity reduces vulnerability to a variety of threats and takes advantage of the unique nature of the environment in which it resides.
- Use edges and value the marginal: The interface between things is where the most interesting events take place. These are often the most valuable, diverse and productive elements in the system.
- Creatively use and respond to change: We can have a positive impact on inevitable change by carefully observing, and then intervening at the right time.
Zones are a way of organizing design elements in a human environment on the basis of the frequency of human use and plant or animal needs. Frequently manipulated or harvested elements of the design are located close to the house in zones 1 and 2. Less frequently used or manipulated elements, and elements that benefit from isolation (such as wild species) are farther away. Zones are about positioning things appropriately. Zones are numbered from 0 to 5.
- Zone 0
- The house, or home center. Here permaculture principles would be applied in terms of aiming to reduce energy and water needs, harnessing natural resources such as sunlight, and generally creating a harmonious, sustainable environment in which to live and work. Zone 0 is an informal designation, which is not specifically defined in Mollison’s book.
- Zone 1
- The zone nearest to the house, the location for those elements in the system that require frequent attention, or that need to be visited often, such as salad crops, herb plants, soft fruit like strawberries or raspberries, greenhouse and cold frames, propagation area, worm compost bin for kitchen waste, and so on. Raised beds are often used in zone 1 in urban areas.
- Zone 2
- This area is used for siting perennial plants that require less frequent maintenance, such as occasional weed control or pruning, including currant bushes and orchards. This would also be a good place for beehives, larger scale composting bins, and so on.
- Zone 3
- The area where main crops are grown, both for domestic use and for trade purposes. After establishment, care and maintenance required are fairly minimal (provided mulches and similar things are used), such as watering or weed control maybe once a week.
- Zone 4
- A semi-wild area. This zone is mainly used for forage and collecting wild food as well as timber production.
- Zone 5
- A wild area. There is no human intervention in zone 5 apart from the observation of natural ecosystems and cycles.
- So what we are looking here is pretty similar to a deeper understanding of KenYeang’s Green Approach I suppose, PermaCulture suggested a deeper understanding and considering social and local environment context too if ensuring a sustainable circle is practiced.