Permaculture Principle 7 – Design From Patterns to Detail

Patterns are underlying structures that organise objects, structures or surfaces in a consistent and regular manner. Patterns can be described as a repeating unit of shapes or forms or a skeleton that holds together or organises the parts of a composition. Patterns also allow us to understand the relationship between parts of a whole. All life exists within the pattern of birth, growth, and decay. Because of patterns, life perpetuates itself. When designing in Permaculture we are particularly focused on the patterns that nature uses to optimise space, efficiency, and productivity. We use patterns to solve challenges because they are solutions that are tried and tested. A good example of a pattern is a spiders web. The spider always starts with the larger structure and then adds the detailed smaller strands depending on the pray or context in which they have their web. We to should design the main structure or skeleton of what we want to achieve mimicking nature’s patterns as far as is possible and then fill in the detail as we progress.  Some of nature’s main patterns are branches, spirals, layers, and symmetry. A pattern that is often used in Permaculture is that of the Permaculture zone pattern. The idea is that the activities that are embarked on daily should be placed closer to the home and as the requirement to visit or tend the area becomes less, those activities are placed further from the home. This allows the person to optimise the use of time and energy in their space. Permaculture identifies 5 zones. Zone zero is always the homestead. Zone 1 generally includes things such as the herb and vegetable garden, chooks, etc. Zone 2 would be the fruit orchard. Zone 3 is your production area this could be animal paddocks, beehives, a large market gardens or any other activity that creates an income stream on the farm or your piece of property. Zone 4 is generally reserved for things such as an edible food forest and finally, zone 5 is bushland or a wild area. In urban settings one might not use all the zones as the space might be to small. In a flat for example you might only have a zone 0 and 1. When designing identify the patterns on your site be that water flow, wildlife, weather, sun movement just to name a few. Then use this information to build on natures patterns

Patterns help us to create a design that will work with nature and not against it. So when designing start from the bigger picture or context and work down to the detail

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