The Design Process

The design process is the core of Permaculture:

  • We start with observation and interaction (what is happening here? What is this? What are its functions and roles, needs and assets? What are the impacts and relationships with other elements?). Observation is done on landscapes (both physical or metaphorical or spiritual, emotional, mental and relational landscapes): we observe the interactions, the patterns, the zones and their uses, etc.
  • During the observation phase we take into account all what affects the “landscape”: what are the decision makers, the history, the support networks and the decision breakers (challenges, blockers, boundaries, walls)…resources and tools present: potential
  • We proceed with the vision/dreaming: what we want to create, what outcomes do we want, what are the priorities?
  • After the vision, we start the design: for our design, we constantly check back-and-forth with both the Permaculture ethics and its principles: does our design reflect the ethics? Does it reflect the principles?
  • After consulting with the receptor of our design (it may be us, a friend, a community, a household, a business), we may still do some changes to it: the design is not written in stone and has to include succession and stacking, be flexible and malleable enough that it will evolve and change to adapt to the landscape and its elements’ needs
  • The next step is the planning: now that we have collected all the data, we created a vision and checked back with the “user” as well as with Permaculture ethics and principles, we start planning: what do we need, what are the steps we will follow, who should we include, how we will proceed?
  • Then it comes the implementation phase: here is where we spend the least time, but it may take us back to any of the other steps as we encounter reality or the landscape or priorities change.
  • No design is static: we assess and re-assess at every point and the design may change and grow to adapt itself to internal and external calls.

Other interesting approaches to design are SADIMET (Survey, Analysis, Design, Implementation, Maintenance, Evaluation and Tweaking) and GOBRADIME (Goals, Observations/Objectives, Boundaries, Resources, Analysis, Design, Implementation, Maintenance/Monitoring/Marketing, Evaluation/Enjoyment) from 7th Generation Permaculture:

Once we start doing we will know how to proceed. – Bill Mollison

Some postings of mine on the process:

Anamnesis: Observation & Interaction

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