Thursday, November 28, 2013

Fundamental Questions

I feel guilty because I am pre-occupied with a new book and have not submitted new content. I am attaching part of the introduction (most recent version) as a result. It will give you a glimpse of my intent and hopefully justify my absence.


We live in space among objects that were once part of the Natural Domain. These objects have changed from those that were our home. The Built Domain has become a second world on a single planet, and it is composed of cells that shelter human activity. We call these cells lots, parcels, property, projects, real estate, and so on. We define them with property lines, but I’ve chosen “cell” to make the point that each currently represents a parasite consuming its source of life. This point of view raises several fundamental questions:

1)      What limits must be imposed on shelter sprawl to protect our source of life?
2)      What is excessive intensity?
3)      What is a symbiotic cell?
4)      What combination of cells is needed to create an economically stable Built Domain?

I can’t answer these questions. I can only raise them. My intent is to give you the concepts, design categories, and equations needed to evaluate the second and fourth from my architectural and planning background. The discussion, evaluation, and language that evolve will be up to you and future generations.

I’ve called the capacity of land to provide shelter “development capacity”. Capacity is a function of the shelter design category chosen and the values assigned to topics within its equation. These choices are design specification decisions. They combine to describe the contents of a project that is a cell in the urban anatomy. The values assigned to its topics define its capacity to provide shelter.

Shelter cells combine to form organisms we call neighborhoods, districts, cities, and regions. These grow into a pattern we call sprawl. The sprawling area, including agriculture, is our Built Domain. It contains four divisions: Shelter, Movement, Open Space, and Life Support that are slowly consuming the Natural Domain. This is happening because we don’t know how to provide shelter for growing populations within a geographically limited Built Domain; and we can’t define this domain with our current political, social, legal, and economic opinions. Even if we could, we would not be able to forecast the capacity of this limited land area to provide shelter for growing populations; and to protect their quality of life from excessive intensity.

The problem is compounded by the fact that the Built Domain consumes energy and discharges waste. It is polluting the planet, changing its climate, and destroying its ecology. This is why I’ve written about the need for symbiotic solutions. The term applies to a parasite that survives by providing mutual benefit. In our case, symbiotic solutions include the shelter we need for survival. At the present time this is a foreign concept. We do not think of ourselves as parasites, but our shelter solutions are driven by decisions that continue to consume our source of life with inadequate justification.

My objective is to explain the shelter design categories, topics, equations, and values that must be correlated within a limited Built Domain. I do not have the geographic and geologic knowledge to define these limits. I simply believe they must be introduced to protect our source of life. My goal is to help you visualize the concept of design categories and give you a mathematical vocabulary that can be used to pursue the question:

How do we provide shelter for growing populations within a limited Built Domain that protects their quality and source of life?