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Saturday, December 17, 2016

Architecture, Agriculture & Planning

If you think of architecture as urban and agriculture as rural, you will have classified the two phyla of a Built Domain containing shelter, movement open space, and life support divisions. The Built Domain is habitat for a species that is capable of consuming its source of life with sprawl. Planning for a geographically limited Built Domain capable of protecting a growing population’s welfare, or quality of life, is the obvious solution; but it will require a new language and science of city design before architects and planners will be able to correlate the diversity of effort needed to lead us to symbiotic survival.

Agriculture is a victim of annexation for urban development within an expanding Built Domain. Agriculture will continue to be at risk until credible knowledge can defend rural land use allocation with revised legislation. Adequate agricultural allocation is imperative if you agree that growing populations must learn to live within a limited Built Domain that contains both urban and rural areas. In other words, urban areas for shelter will be constrained by rural areas for agriculture if they are contained within a geographically limited Built Domain.

I have focused on urban areas in the past and have failed to include line 3 in Table 1 as a consequence. It is a classification level of The Built Domain that precedes its four divisions, since these divisions are found in both rural and urban areas.

In this context, The Built Domain is not a project, district, city, region, or conurbation. It is the sum of all man-made creations, and a project, farm, or ranch is its cellular unit of growth. The allocation of land for its phyla, divisions, categories, and groups will determine our ability to shelter growing populations within a geographically limited Built Domain that protects our quality and source of life. “Quality” in this context includes an adequate food supply that has not been provided by The Natural Domain for quite some time. It can only be provided by adequate agricultural land use allocation within the Life Support Division of the Rural Phyla in The Built Domain.

In the case of the Rural Phyla, gross building area on a farm divided by total farm acres produces a shelter capacity measurement that is extremely low.

In the case of the Urban Phyla, gross building area divided by buildable project acres can be extremely high. In fact, it can be pushed to produce excessive intensity, intrusion, and dominance measurements that threaten the public welfare and quality of life. These measurements are one indication of the difference between rural and urban activity.

Gross building area divided by buildable project acres is shelter capacity. It is a function of design category choices, a category forecast model, design specification decisions within the model, and related master equation calculations. The design category master equation produces gross building area options that vary with the number of building floors under consideration.

Shelter capacity is occupied by activity and the gross building area introduced per acre determines the scope of activity that can be accommodated. The decisions that produce shelter capacity determine building mass and its impact on the surrounding population. Traditional architecture converts a building mass specification to the form, function, and appearance of its shelter capacity. Obviously, this impact is marginal in the Rural Phyla. It can be excessive in the Urban Phyla when measured in terms of capacity, intensity, intrusion, and dominance.

At the present time, we know more about the bushels of corn that can be produced per acre than the shelter capacity of an acre. We know even less about the intensity, intrusion, and dominance produced by shelter capacity options; and have not considered that the Built Domain is a second world on a single planet with rural and urban phyla that require shelter, movement, open space, and life support. I doubt that we have even considered the acres of The Natural Domain that must be preserved to protect our source of life.

Instinct, intuition, and anticipation are telling us that balance must be found between The Built and Natural Domains. The relationship between urban and rural land use allocation within a limited Built Domain is another puzzle we must solve.

I doubt that the shelter capacity of land in rural areas is considered when food production is the goal, and I doubt that food production is seriously considered in urban areas when shelter for activity is the goal. They are part of the same question, however. What is the geographic balance between the Built and Natural Domains that is required to protect a growing population’s source of life; and what is the relationship of land use allocation and urban form within The Built Domain that will protect a growing population’s quality of life? (Urban form is produced by a collection of individual land use allocation and shelter capacity decisions. They combine to produce spatial context, shelter composition, and shelter capacity, intensity, intrusion, and dominance within The Built Domain.)

Architectural design categories, forecast models, specification formats, and master equations are needed to predict shelter capacity options for land at the cellular level of allocation, conversion, and project formation within a limited Built Domain. When architects learn to use these tools they will be prepared to advance from the tactical to strategic level of shelter capacity evaluation.

Land use allocation and the composition of urban form within a limited Built Domain will reflect the progress we make toward a policy of symbiotic survival. This policy represents a design problem currently faced with an inadequate pattern language. The classification in Table 1 is a departure from this language to The Science of City Design.[1] It is a strategic language that can be used to lead an army, but this is simply a claim based on a vision at the present time. In the end, we will either adapt and survive or consume our source of life. Inability to adopt a climate change policy may hasten the process, but climate solutions will not contain a sprawling Built Domain served by movement, open space, and life support systems that threaten to consume our source of life.

[1] Hosack, Walter M., The Science of City Design: Architectural Algorithms for City Planning and Design Leadership, CreateSpace, 2016. (Available in paperback and e-book versions from

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