We take full advantage of designing through ethics and principles. Through ecological design we have set up a holistic process for natural design thinking, observing, designing and building and maintaining - key to whole systems for sustainable human needs and habitat.


Strategic Principles

Strategic Principles help set-up how a design is delivered. Strategic objectives underpin  details and approaches used to minimising social, economic and environmental loss. It's important to appraise a design objectives against Strategic Principles.

The strategic objectives of a design generally needs to be compatible with our Strategic Principles:

  • helping to reduce design errors.
  • ensuring the elements of a project or system are safeguarded and resources used appropriately.
  • assisting to get it right the first time instead of having to correct mistakes later. 

Where and how to apply

Focus on long-term sustainability careful thinking

Co-operate don’t compete → share best knowledge and practice   

Design from patterns to detail → see the whole picture first

Start small and learn from change → avoid expensive errors

Make the least change for the largest result → efficient and economical details

Make a priority of renewable resources and services → establish a feedback loop to long-term sustainability,

Bring food production back to cities  empowers food security and risk avoidance

Strategic Principles can help us look at best spatial strategy and help use look at a number of options for a reasonable alternatives. 


Principles of design

Principles of design or permacultural principles are used as a creative thinking tools to be tapped or tipped into as a tool kit when considering sustainability -

  • values,
  • issues
  • topics
  • objectives
  • targets
  • outcomes;

A common approach to measuring best practice is using a sustainability appraisal to assess policies individually against each of the sustainability objectives, usually a matrix format. Our approach is to use a small-scale sustainability appraisal to assess a design as a whole, including local planning and policy for best outcomes.

Through looking at the use of a matrix format we assess for the triple ethics of Permaculture.

Permaculture Ethics

  • Earth care (green infrastructure, biodiversity conservation, long-term management) 
  • People care (equality, diversity, inclusion discrimination, health, wellbeing and skills)
  • Fare share. (fairness, poverty)

Over the last 40 years masters designers in holistic systems have been designing and delivery through permaculture systems and principles, helping to keep delivery on track.

Judgment can be made based on the subject matter of principles to determine whether the use of a principle is capable of having any significant effect is applied. The screening process identifies which principle to focus on assessing the effect of a design..

Work with nature, not against  by working within natural law, we can be most effective.    

The problem is the solution, everything works both ways  It is all in our own perspective if something is beneficial or not,  by gathering knowledge, we can figure out how to make the best of what we have.     

Make the least change for the greatest effect, the yield of a system is theoretically unlimited The only limit is the -

  • knowledge,
  • information,
  • imagination and
  • creativity

of the designer.     

Everything gardens →  Every living organism has an effect on its environment. It is up to the designer to learn what these things have to contribute and place them in beneficial connection.     

Relative location →  Elements in a system are viewed, not in isolation, but for the multitude of functional interconnections that they can have with the other elements of the design to enhance harmony.  Everything is connected to everything else.

Each element performs many functions →  By stacking functions, the designer has the forethought against the failure of one or more elements.  

The designer will determine a number of different functions for a design (eg. produce fruit, provide shelter).

When a design is prepared, each function is then considered one by one. In order to make the design achieve a "single" function, the designer must:     

  • Deal with several different components which influence that function 
  • Make different and distinct decisions about each of these components

Each function is supported by many elements →  The term "element" is used to refer to the components of a design such as:

  • plants,
  • earth,
  • water,
  • buildings.

A design must include many elements in the design to make sure functions are achieved. Every element should serve many functions. By maximising the beneficial connections between elements creates stability.  

Energy efficient planning → Through thoughtful design, we can make the most from the least. (zone planning, sector planning, networks, elevation)     

Use biological resources →  By including a plant or animal in our design, we can increase our opportunities to save energy and increase yield.

  • Priority is to use renewable biological resources (eg. wood for fuel) rather than non renewable resources (eg. fossil fuels).
  • Design so that biological resources are reproduced within the system.      

Energy cycling→  Each cyclical opportunity in the system increases the opportunity for yield.     

Small-Scale Intensive Systems  It’s all about scale. Smaller systems are easier to respond to.     

Accelerating Succession & Evolution → Natural ecosystems develop and change over time.  By observing these systems, we can design for effective restoration and productivity. 

Elevational Planning The design must be on a 3-dimensional basis, giving consideration to length, width and height of all elements (ie. components). This is then used to place various elements within the design. Particular emphasis is given to energy impacts.  

Diversity → Functional relationships between elements creates stability and design innovations we never could have thought of alone! Design should be a polyculture (ie. a system where a greater number of species are growing together). This ensures greater biological stability.

Energy Recycling

  • Energy use should be minimised. -
  • Waste energy should be harvested (eg. often pollution can yield useable energy).
  • Design the system to optimise collection of energy by plants and animals. (eg. using plants that catch light, produce bulk vegetation and then rot to provide a store of nutrients). This way energy is caught, stored and reused in the system.

Natural Succession

  • Design in a way that plant and animal life is always rich by ensuring new organisms emerge as old ones die.

Maximise Edges

Two different areas in a system have more things influencing it than other parts of the system. This is because there is greater diversity there with components of two different areas having an effect. As such design of an edge is more critical, and potential for an edge can be greater.

Design can be seen to have two elements: aesthetics and function. In other words, design (of any kind) can be influenced to varying degrees by the aesthetics or appearance of what you are trying to achieve; and/or by the function or purpose to be served by what you are trying to design. 

Permaculture concentrates on function and gives lower priority to conventional ideas of aesthetics. As such, a permaculture system does not need to look 'nice', but it does need to serve its intended purpose.