Can we aspire to design sustainable architecture within an unsustainable context?
If not, we don’t have a choice but to redefine our context.
I was born and raised in the Philippines where I studied in both a local and in an international school. This provided me a diverse type of education that exposed me to different cultures and systems. This type of learning only escalated when flying to America to attend university at Rhode Island School of Design.
From a very young age, self-awareness has always been crucial for me. I continuously endeavor to test my limits in all aspects of life to understand where my strengths truly lie. The more I learned about myself and the world around me, the more I realized how intrinsically intertwined the two were. In its own chaotic natural beauty, the world has shaped me and vice versa. I operate within a context that dictate my actions and decisions. Unless I expanded that context, my bounded rationality would be limited.
Knowing this, I sought diversity and multiple disciplines. Throughout my short time on earth, I have become an athlete, a breakdancer, a fine artist, a graphic designer, a photographer, an international student, an architect, and a business owner. Some were circumstantial but most were of my own volition in acknowledgement of unbounding my rationality. As a photographer, I have received international accolades and awards for my work. As an architect, I specialized in healthcare architecture and flew to Kenya to help design a hospital, which aided my production of a previous manifesto for an ideal healthcare system. As a businessman, I started a restaurant and food business at the young age of 15, which now supplies ingredients to several high-end hotels and restaurants in the Philippines. This multi-disciplinary approach to life enables me to perceive issues and problems through a multivalent systemic perspective.
This specific perspective seeks a more dynamically cohesive architecture that reconcile multiple contentious issues that are embedded within our current context. Within my architectural education I have had multiple attempts in designing architecture that is truly sustainable. However, very much like my predecessors Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Ebenezer Howard, I have arrived at a realization that true sustainability is impossible without having to design its context as well. Like them, this epiphany has led me to my thesis: a utopic manifesto.
Within this singular planet, all things are connected. Architecture and context are intrinsically united in a beautifully chaotic relationship. As such, the perpetual exploration and development of sustainable architecture is moot unless we simultaneously tackle the context it builds on. As of the year 2016, there is no argument against the inefficiencies inherent with our global systems of living designed from a corruptible set of values. These have been physically manifested by architects which built everyone’s shared physical reality. These inefficiencies are revealed as inequity, climate change, war, species extinction, and much more.
This thesis can be described as the exploration and formulation of a sustainable context wherein true sustainable architecture can then be simulated from. It takes shape as a utopic manifesto, which in essence is a tool wherein one can simultaneously criticize our current world view and provide an alternative. It is utopian because it involves a conscious and rational choice of a set of ideals rather than laissez-faire planning. It is both critique and aspiration. It is a direction and not a destination. This painting of a sustainable future is aptly named Ecological Democracy.
Ecological Democracy is a set of values that act as an all-encompassing framework that can be applied to all scales of life. Throughout this thesis, these values spawn a series of systems that then begin to simulate architecture and the built environment. This idealized masterplan framework is then placed on an empty but real world site to test its feasibility. This tabula rasa isolates this future at any moment but now.
The motivation behind this thesis lies in the hope of creating a large enough emergence to make this manifesto a reality and create a sustainable present. It is a call for action by causing the audience to evaluate their own values and their current reality. On the personal level, it provides a framework for my own current and future practice with sustainable architecture.
Architects have the power to shape people’s lives through physically manifesting certain ideals. These ideals are projections of the future and are based on both individual and shared values. It is a decision-making process that is solidified and experienced by the whole of society. Evidence has shown that people are creatures of context and are formed by their surroundings. Within this principle, architects heavily influence the human condition and are then vital leverage points for creating a better future. When this responsibility is ignored, architects throw systems and lives off-balance.
There is no argument for the inefficiencies inherent in our current system of living, designed from a corrupted set of values. The same ones that architects have physically manifested and built the reality we experience today. These inefficiencies are revealed as inequity, climate change, war, species extinction, and much more. This cannot be sustained and for us to survive we must reiterate.
We must not forget that human systems are designs and therefore we must perceive them through a design perspective. Within the design process, there are four vital intertwining steps: Pre-Design, Design (through iteration), Manifestation, and Impact Analysis. From this perspective, we see that this system is not a failure but merely a single iteration in global human design. We have seen the impact analysis of our current system. Through this, we can find and pinpoint the leverage points to improve it.
We are at the verge of a new iteration as our current system reaches its limit threshold. The world is seeing the birth of new sub-systems, but these are still independent due to differing values and visions. Emergence can be defined as the process of revealing something and the process of coming into being. It is spawned by collective thought. System emergence can only be brought about when people who share a common vision connect, therefore making it a shared reality. Part of the process of reality manifestation is naming, which helps us see. Language represents shared reality: the world of culture. We have yet to name a shared vision and I believe that this emergence for a sustained way of life will be named Ecological Democracy.
The creation of the name is in parallel to the birth of this utopia. Ecological Democracy is grown from a time tested value that has proven to promote generative behavior: sharing. Historically, nations and by extension cities and settlements are places formed for the sole purpose of sharing. We share to survive and thrive. Humans have flourished due to our ability to maximize this universal trait of life. Therefore, any type of system may it be political or economical is incompatible and thus unsustainable when not grounded within this singular value. Our current and historic dilemmas are brought upon by our resistance to the inevitability of sharing with our base animal instinct of selfishness.
Formed from the concept of maximizing this value, Ecological Democracy is a utopic manifesto for sustainable architecture and its rich context. In its essence, it is a social contract which promises sustainability. It is a framework for sustainable social and physical constructs which seeks a dynamic balance between humanity and its ecosystem. It creates communities that can regulate their own ecosystem.
This vision shapes systems and cities but is not rigid. It is polymorphic and not prescriptive. Instead, it is a framework for sustained living. It celebrates the genius loci and the informal. Ecological Democracy provides classless citizens with equitable access to a full life which provides them with autonomy, the ability to make informed, un-coerced decisions. As it enables citizens to become better participants by unbounding their rationality, it grows and changes accordingly. It creates an elastic reinforcing feedback loop that generates sustainable life.
As it is based on a time-tested value, this manifesto is simultaneously anchored and lost in time. It is driven but not shaped by recent technological advancements, but is rooted in a much more human scale that can adapt. Ecological Democracy is based on a material and resource reality grounding it on a more sustainable present and future.
Nonetheless, the shared reality we currently exist in is at an opportune moment in time and history to live within this utopia. I believe that true sustainability is possible given our current shared wisdom as a race. There could be no greater tool than architecture for this as it represents our capacity to share. It is up to us to shape our future but we must be bold enough to first change its context.
- Sustainability is achieved when all types of human systems and their physical manifestations are grounded within the value of sharing.
- Sharing generates other values such as stewardship, equity, transparency, diversity, and freedom.
- Create a classless society with equitable access to a full life which provides each citizen with autonomy: the ability to make informed un-coerced decisions.
- Zoning system is not initially a division of space by separation of uses or mix of them, but instead is a system of organization based on proximity to ensure equitable distribution of resources.
- Land is a shared resource and ownership remains within the government, which is just an extension of the self.
- All types of organization have a cooperative hierarchical structure.
- Citizens are entitled to the same basic resources which are considered as shared resources which includes food, medical care, water, sanitation, shelter, and education.
- Design framework is polymorphic and not prescriptive, allowing it to grow and change accordingly based on its locus.
- Employs a research-based organic healthcare system that can react to any scenario including natural disasters and disease outbreaks.
- Ecological Democracy is a true social contract wherein citizens have the choice to opt in and out of the system. Therefore, maximum mobility is provided through transit-oriented development.
Zoning is at the heart of this manifesto. It is used as a tool to control the use of land when societies aggregate and create shared decisions. Within the values of Ecological Democracy, the zoning system applied within is not initially a division of space by separation of uses or the mix of them, but instead is a system of organization based on proximity. The hierarchy of zones depend on population density and programs in relation to each citizen. Each zone contains different systems and components that satisfy each aspect of well-being. This type of allocating resources and spaces are evidence of Ecological Democracy.
These proximity zones are translated into principles for spatial organizations of architecture and its embedded programs. There are a total of 6 zones scaling up from individual citizens to the entire country. This type of zoning gives rise to dense cities to ensure amenities and transportation are cost efficient. This zoning system and the size of the city are scalable depending on the resources of the site. This creates differing cities, which promote diversity. Since zones are based on proximity to each citizen, size of city does not heavily change their experience of the physical realm.
This manifesto is not a prescription but a framework. This type of zoning framework generates diversity. According to chaos theory, in spite of similar frameworks, minute changes within our environment generate complexity and thus diversity. Designs of regions and programs within each differ from one another and are therefore unique.
ZONE 6: NATIONAL ZONE
Government and Political Structure
No matter what kind of society one envisions, communal decisions will always be placed on a group of individuals due to the nature of human aggregation. This is a recurring natural phenomenon that inevitably gives birth to political structures. Politics is simply a means in where people make collective decisions. As such, our survival as a race depends on a social contract that is true to its real nature. One that serves and improves the lives of all its citizens equitably while maintaining an ecological equilibrium. This is the only rational and time-tested reason that one would sustainably abide within the rules and constraints of a social contract.
Within Ecological Democracy, a sustainable social contract is achieved by the use of sharing which manifests itself as a true democracy. This provides and empowers individuals to all be actors in the larger stage. By allowing everyone to be heard and creating a shared voice, a more sustainable society can be attained. Each individual citizen understands their role within the community and vice versa. It also acts as a checking mechanism, which provides a platform for transparency.
This authentic democracy is realized by employing a coop-based political and government structure. Cooperatives are an autonomous association of persons that unite voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. They have members who have a direct input in how their cooperative develops, the products and services they sell, and the prices they set. They do this by way of their voting power and control over the coop’s board of directors. This is authentic democracy and is the organizational structure that embodies the values of the Ecological Democracy.
Unlike other political structures, a coop based government and political structure is scalable and operates within the different zones and functions of the country. Each coop elects their own board of directors, who then decide on the next zone tier of board of directors. For example, on the national scale, all regional board of directors appoint the national board of directors. Any level of board directors is responsible for governing each coop and is accountable to all members. They report to their stakeholders in a timely manner suited to their scale, but can take no longer than a quarter of the year. Since directors of higher zones are part of multiple coops, they participate within different scales. This empowers them to have a more wholesome and systematic point of view. A narrow focus on optimizing various parts of a complex system may undermine the sustainability of the whole.
Since board of directors are accountable to all citizens and vote meetings happen on a regular basis, director positions are flexible. There is no fixed time that a director stays in position. It all depends on their overall performance and ability to lead. This enables the community to focus on ideas and visions rather than individual members. It also prevents corruption within the system. The coop is stronger than any single member or director.
All citizens are treated as stockholders and have the responsibility to attend coop meetings on a weekly basis. These meetings will become a part of each citizens’ metabolism. Anyone above the age of 15 is required to attend these meetings and participate. Those not of age are encouraged to attend but will be unable to vote. All citizens are fully informed when making decisions aided by the use of personal technology. Votes are conducted and tallied using proper algorithms to streamline the procedure and negate any type of corruption. Transparency is vital to this system and is practiced at all times.
All citizens are entitled to the same basic resources which are also considered as shared resources. These are based on basic human needs including food, medical care, water, sanitation, shelter, and education. These resources cannot be owned and accumulated by any one individual. The government which is the extension of the community retains ownership of these and is in charge of management and distribution. This vision of equity ensures that citizens have equal access and opportunities, which create true democratic freedom. It creates autonomous citizens who have the capacity to make un-coerced rational decisions. Furthermore, an ownership model designed for fairness and fairer distribution of wealth is likely to be more resilient.
The employment of a sharing ownership model incentivise and inspires citizens to cooperate and work in harmony. When the country grows, their basic resources per capita improve as well. This fosters a healthy community driven by a generative balance of both altruism and individualism. Ultimately, sharing resources promise better utility and efficiency of said resources.
Additional goods and services for individuals are distributed according to the monetary wealth one accumulates. This capitalistic system incentivise citizens by utilizing the human nature of competition, which promotes innovation. To ensure balance and equal access, ownership of these goods and services either remains with the government or with the corporations that manufacture them. They are “leased” to citizens, which creates another gatekeeping mechanism for equity and environmental protection. When one passes away, these leased objects are returned to the original owner, which is either the government or the corporation. There is no need for inheritance due to guaranteed basic human needs. As such with a true social contract, citizens trust the government to provide for everything they need and have no insecurity for the future of their children.
Land is a shared resource and ownership remains within the government. This ownership model is in parallel with the coop system and guarantees proper stewardship. The government is in charge of distributing land and leasing them to businesses and individual citizens. They set and implement controls over environmental concerns, which facilitates better land development. This is both a top-down and bottom-up approach since the government structure is a coop. Within each zone, citizens decide and vote on how land is distributed.
Since use of land is voted upon, it is more likely to be viewed through a systems thinking lens and this must be so. Land cannot be treated as individual independent units. It is an ecosystem that is rich in networks which produce biodiversity. Proper stewardship of this ecological network is a principle within Ecological Democracy. .
Ecological Democracy promotes solidarity, equity, and self-management by creating an ecological and classless economy. At the heart of Ecological Democracy’s economic system is the concept of sharing. This shared economy perpetuates the values that promote generative living. Through sharing, the economy can efficiently distribute resources to its citizens by employing the traditional economic model of economy of scales. However, instead of being a model for production and cost, this model applied to the sharing economy promises that goods and services reach maximum efficiency of utilization.
It is an economic model based on intrinsic motivators which contribute to a much more resilient type of satisfaction. Use of monetary currency is still needed to ensure efficient distribution and use of resources by simplifying means of barter and creating a common unit language. To promote generative stewardship, the monetary system is rooted on a ratio between the human population of the nation and the available resources for human use. This system warrants equilibrium between humans and their natural surroundings. When human population increases without improved production, the value of currency decreases because there are fewer resources per person. In reverse, value decreases when population decreases as there is less manpower. Through this, ecological equilibrium is found. However, equilibrium within this system is not static, it shifts depending on efficiency of production. This incentivise innovation.
This type of currency negates the financial and speculative aspect of the economy as it is anchored on a real economy. It promotes long-term investments that are research-based which fosters economic development that is generative. In essence, it is true economics as it concerns itself with the long-term welfare of the whole community. At the human scale, this currency feels real due to its deep engagement with the material world.
Trading between nations is limited to products that each country cannot produce. This global trade bloc enhances specialization by creating a universal limit. Within Ecological Democracy, limiting factors are understood as necessary and also opportunities for generative practices. Primary sector products such as agriculture are produced solely within the country. Trading is mostly limited to the secondary and tertiary sector. A strong resilient local economy is a vital component of Ecological Democracy
Business and Industry
It’s a fact of life that every living thing in this planet must do work to pull in the resources it needs to sustain itself. Working together in groups inevitably leads to social constructs such as businesses and corporations. Much like any kind of organization within the Ecological Democracy, businesses and corporations are composed using a coop structure. The ownership of which are held by the collective.
Each member of the company is given income and stock. Members being the primary stockholders gives companies the ability to pursue “true” goals, which align with their individual mission and vision. Businesses do not operate solely for profit but use profit as a means to a goal. They are to be designed as mission-controlled corporations, which have strong social missions.
Within Ecological Democracy, manufacturing processes employ a circular closed-loop system in where the waste of one producer is sent to another production line as input. Unusable waste is transformed into materials that can decompose naturally to minimize impact on the environment and health of the population. This type of system is employed throughout all zones within Ecological Democracy.
With the lack of monetary incentives for businesses, others with the same vision and mission are going to merge and create larger coops to better utilize resources. Game theory ceases to exist and so does lowest price syndrome. The system solely relies on the law of supply and demand to reach equilibrium. The shift from individual gain to shared value, promotes sharing and maximizes resources.
As mentioned in the ownership section, goods and services are no longer sold but instead are leased. It is vital that we support ourselves in ways that care for the earth that provides for us, care for the community we are embedded in, and let us limit our consumption to generate life. Therefore, all manufacturing corporations are operated as service-oriented manufacturers. They are in charge of the entire life cycle of a product, from production to waste management. This ensures that products are designed and produced with longevity. It also creates a culture of accountability.
Individual positions within businesses are based on member votes. This hierarchy provides the necessary incentive for workers to perform without imposing on the rights and resources of others. The goal is to create leaders rather than bosses. Positions are given to those that deserve it based on skill, capacity, and merit. Barriers to employment are minimized due to shared basic standard of living. Without financial constraints, people are free to pursue any field they want as long as they are qualified.
As previously mentioned, every citizen within Ecological Democracy is provided with all the base resources one needs. However, like businesses, there are still monetary incentives in place for people to work harder to increase their surplus and match their wants. If one wants to consume more, one must work harder, longer, or under worse conditions. This creates an environment where self-management and responsibility are generated. However, the difference in monetary compensation between members is minimal promoting positive competition while negating class structures. Since income between individuals are not high, everyone is treated in high regard as they are all integral parts of the company and contribute towards the larger goal.
Access to equitable healthcare is a fundamental human right within Ecological Democracy. By law, everyone has access to a primary care physician at birth who then counts as their family doctor. Without currency as a key to access and priority, resources are equally divided and ensures every patient are treated equally. Healthcare is inclusive of all services from preventive, to primary, all the way to tertiary. Due to lack of monetary incentives, healthcare focuses on providing wellness which is inherently preventive rather than reactive. Efficiency and success is measured by people’s complete state of wellness. The healthcare sector is also responsible for research and maintenance of public health.
The Ecological Democracy employs an organic healthcare system, which like most systems in Ecological Democracy is simultaneously decentralized and centralized. It can react to any scenario including natural disasters and disease outbreaks. Furthermore, it is a research-based system that can distribute its healthcare and treat its patients efficiently using information and data gathered in real time.
This information system has a report and feedback loop using Performance-based Promotions (PBP) which creates incentives for practitioners to record data. Positions in healthcare are driven and allocated by said reports. Cross reporting such as patient feedback reports on their provider create transparency and prevent fraud. It also empowers patients with a sense of control, which is highly important for the concept of wellness.
With an environment of disciplined reporting, better data is generated. This data is fed through different levels of healthcare through the different zones, which makes its way toward the national zone in where they can make decisions based on accurate information.
The different levels of the healthcare system in different zones create a referral system that enable it to be efficient through proper gatekeeping. Only those that truly need it are sent to specialized care while others go through the many levels of healthcare. This clear hierarchy of responsibilities provide clarity, accountability, and transparency.
Healthcare is a vital component of Ecological Democracy as it equips the nation with a healthy workforce and increases individual freedom by minimizing health insecurity. Without wellness and healthcare, citizens can never truly be autonomous.
ZONE 5: REGIONAL ZONE
Agriculture in the regional zone is geared towards the harvest and gathering of fresh ocean seafood, pork, beef, and dairy. Since these produce are vital leverage points in ecological balance, they are limited to the proper nutrition diet levels of the region. Too much production or overharvest leads to environmental degradation and less natural capital. They relatively generate much more environmentally harmful emissions than other food sources. Therefore, production and distribution are handled by both the regional farmers coop and environmental coop.
Another limiting factor of production in zone 5 is the utilization of free range farming techniques that aims to be both generative and sustainable. Fresh ocean seafood fishing is harvested at a sustainable rate wherein the fish population does not decline overtime. This is achieved by the introduction of individual fishing quotas and disallowing destructive methods such as dynamite fishing. The regeneration rate of fish is very dependent on their density within an area. Grounded on the same roots as the economic system of Ecological Democracy, too many fish in one area lead to zero reproduction rates. If the population is too low, then they breed very slowly and cannot regenerate to their normal stock. However, there is an equilibrium where fish regenerate at maximum. Fishermen need to acknowledge this phenomena and plan around it to optimize current and future yields.
Pigs, cows, and other animals are left to roam in prairies wherein they are exposed and left to the natural environment. Similar to fish, consumption of these animals are limited to the amount that they can be naturally grown and their rate of regeneration. All types of farming within this zone employs agroecological techniques that perceive agriculture as a system in where multiple parts can mutually benefit from one another. Agroecological practices are based on an area’s ecological stock such as weather, climate, and human demographics. This promises that each region can provide different produce, which leads to diversity and agri-tourism.
All food products for human consumption are labelled with a cohesive food label that delivers all the information that consumers need. This is practiced and enforced within food that are produced in zones 5 to 3. Three types of label are utilized including traffic light label, nutrition facts, and a digital QR code. Labeling not only informs consumers but also drives producers to be more conscious and transparent.
The traffic light label consists of three colors: Red, Yellow, and Green. Red signals the consumer that the food product that they are consuming has high amounts of certain components that have been deemed detrimental to one’s health. The scale is based on three key factors including nutrition and health benefits, how close the product is to real food, and production. The last metric involves quality of treatment of workers, animals, and the earth. This label provides the consumer with readily accessible information in a universal language.
Nutrition facts include the breakdown of nutrition components and its percentage relative to recommended calorie diet. The digital QR code on the other hand, includes a much wider range of information such as Type of Seed Used (GMO or not), Type of Fertilizer Used, Location of Farm, Location of Processing, Type of Processing, Additives Used, Date of Planting, Date of Harvest, and Recommended Shelf Life. The information can also link to an individual’s health monitoring device in where they can get instant feedback on the effects of the food that they are interested in consuming.
All modes of transportation within the different zones are all connected through a multi-modal branch system. Zone 5 is home to the airport, seaport, and the rapid train system. The airport and seaport allow for trade and tourists to travel within regions and countries. Each region should have at least an airport, a seaport, or both. These ports are then linked to the main mode of transport within zone 5: the rapid train system. It is a public transportation system that connects cities throughout the region and the region with other adjacent regions. This is also the main transportation mode for economic goods.
Travelling to other regions and countries for recreational purposes requires the use of money unless sponsored by the co-ops. This acts as an incentive for citizens to perform well in their job. By limiting people that travel long distances, environmental costs are minimized and local social capital stabilized.
One type of rapid train system employed is the mag-lev train, which is a transport method that uses magnetic levitation to move without touching the ground. By using magnets for propulsion to minimize friction and drag, energy use is minimized. They move very smoothly, quietly, and swiftly. Maintenance is very low due to lack of physical wheels and rails that experience wear and tear.
The transportation coop made of members that work within transportation are in charge of operating and maintaining public transportation within zone 5 and all other zones. Since it is a branch system, everything operates in a schedule determined by demand of use. Demand is determined by data gathered from sensors and smart tracking. This allows the system to be efficient and minimize environmental costs. By only using vehicles when really needed, emissions are kept minimal.
Jobs and Occupations
The regional scale is the farthest location one can work at when living within the region so as to decrease the need to commute long distances. Long distance commute lead to social capital degradation and has thus been limited to 30 minutes of travel. All employees still live within zone 4 and use the rapid train system to commute to their work.
The jobs within zone 5 include mineral extraction, regional agriculture, ports, and recreational facilities. These are located the farthest from individuals as it requires more natural capital to achieve ecological equilibrium. They also require less human density and capital relative to other job types and sectors.
Large scale recreational venues such as resorts and theme parks are located within zone 5. As mentioned earlier, diversity is spawned from the Ecological Democracy framework. Designs of these recreational venues are the productions of said complexity. Therefore, each region have their own signature recreational venue making them unique and attract travelling. Travelling is a necessary tool for educating the public of different histories and cultures.
Different densities create distinct kinds of social activities of differing strength and intensity. The higher zones create less intense social interactions by creating networks that are spatially farther apart. This then dictates what kind of recreational facility is provided within the zone. All of these add up to a healthy diverse social capital which is vital for the well-being of each citizen within Ecological Democracy.
The Regional Ministry of Health (RMOF) are located in zone 5 and are responsible for elaborating policies and strategies, ensuring proper monitoring and evaluation, and the regulations within the entire region. Each region within the country has their own ministry of health that coordinates with each other to create the National Ministry of Health. Since part of the healthcare infrastructure are modular and are continuously in motion, the RMOF is responsible for the efficient allocation of said resources based on data and research. They must continuously monitor disease burdens and trends of illnesses. The RMOF are also be in charge of the PBP system.
Since healthcare facilities operate and maneuver using the transportation system and has a similar branch system, the RMOF works side by side with the transportation coop.
ZONE 4: CITY ZONE
Unlike zone 5, the city zone employs denser agricultural methods for poultry, seafood, fruits, vegetables, and grains. These are the basic staple diet that everyone has access to and are considered a shared resource. Zone 4 agricultural coop are in charge of production, distribution, and processing of all agricultural goods within the city zone. All are produced using the aforementioned agroecology method.
Agroecology applies a systemic view to farming as it unites ecological science with time-tested traditional wisdom, and farmers’ ongoing experience. It is not a formula but a range of integrated practices that can adapt in response to a farm’s specific ecological niche. The values of agroecology include sharing and diversity, same as Ecological Democracy. Agroecological practice requires the mixing of multiple crops in the same field - a practice called intercropping, or polyculture. The synergistic interplay among plants and other organisms lead to nutrient cycling that can increase yield drastically. It also nullifies the need for chemical additives such as pesticides because healthy plants can protect themselves from pests. Pest control begins with soil structure rich in organic matter.
This type of farming is located in zone 4 because of its proximity to the population. Agroecological process and practice also take into account the distance between consumption and production. This distance is a large component of nutrient cycling as human are considered part of it. Human waste is rich in nutrients such as nitrogen that are essential for plants. All agriculture within this zone are linked to one another and employs nutrition cycling.
Seafood is grown through fish farms that employ an aquaponic system. Aquaponics is a combination of fish culture and hydroponics, which operate in a closed-loop system. Fish provide nutrients in the form of “waste”, or excrement which contains nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Water is continuously pumped into a grow bed where the plants are located. The plants then remove nutrients from water which effectively cleans it. The clean water is then sent back into the fish tank and then repeats the cycle. This type of system can be emulated in numerous ways and scales. Hydroponics can also be attached to living machines including buildings, as human waste is also rich in ammonia.
Vegetables and grains are planted in diverse methods including greenhouse farming. A greenhouse is a structure with walls and roof made chiefly of transparent material, such as glass, in which plants requiring regulated climatic conditions are grown. Depending on the need of climate control, greenhouses can be equipped with technological equipment including screening installations, heating, cooling, lighting, and may be controlled by a computer to optimize conditions for plant growth. There are many ways to plant within a greenhouse including traditional soil top planting, raised bed, hydroponics, and aquaponics.
Greenhouse traditional soil top and raised bed planting are much more efficient in comparison to planting without one. It extends the growing season, which results in higher yield per year. With tomatoes, yield can increase by 170% by the use of a greenhouse. It controls pests and drastically decreases the need for pesticide and other chemicals. Since the environment is much more controlled, plants can grow a lot healthier. Water use is also significantly less and can be done through a closed loop system decreasing water cost.
All zones within the system is networked through a branch system but each has a prominent mode of transportation suitable to its density. A good transportation plan is a good land use plan. Zone 4 is where the second and third branch of the public transportation system takes place. A comprehensive network of both subway and bus lines connect to the regional rapid train system. Since zones are organized based on proximity, multi-modal transportation provides ease of access to any zone. It creates an efficient use of space by offering proper gatekeeping to transportation use. This minimizes the traffic congestion within the city.
A subway or bus stop is located within a 5-minute walking radius of any location in the city. Subways stops serve denser populated areas within the city. The bus line acts at the third branch in where it connects the rest of the population with the subway stops. Both transportation methods are powered by renewable resources generated within the city.
Biking is also encouraged as a mode of travel within zone 4 through dedicated bike paths along the city. However, biking is much more prominent in zones 3 and below as the distance grows shorter. By providing a multi-modal transportation system, citizens have the option to select a mode that is conducive to their needs based on availability, privacy, and speed. Enabling citizens with choices improves their mental health and sense of autonomy.
and sense of autonomy.
Jobs and Occupation
Zone 4 houses the primary and secondary sector jobs similar to zone 5. The only difference is in the need of denser population to operate jobs within zone 4. In addition, the city zone also contains hotels and wet markets.
Hotels promote tourism and thus attract diversity. They also offer all basic needs and amenities to visitors. As mentioned earlier, traveling costs money as an incentive for generative growth. The same applies to hotels in where profit is transferred to the city. It is then used to either maintain the hotels or improve the city. This promotes healthy competition between cities, which then creates diversity.
Wet markets are in close proximity to agriculture to decrease transportation costs. It is the catch basin for all food produced within zone 4 and 5. Therefore, they are equipped with storage technology that maintain the freshness of the produce. This is vital for food such as meat and dairy in where a cold chain must be kept consistent.
Citizens from all over the city travel to the wet market in where they get their weekly supply of food. Since food is a shared resource, they are highly encouraged to only take what they can consume. Otherwise, citizens have to pay a penalty for any food that is wasted. This not only ensures equitable distribution but also environmental protection.
Business incubators and innovation labs equipped with professional equipment are placed along zone 4 to promote entrepreneurship and development of new businesses. Once a concept has been approved by the coop, any citizen can make use of shared equipment. Incubators negate business malpractices by promoting the use of proper technology and equipment. They also provide startup companies with services such as management training and office space. Innovation improves efficiency and increases diversity. It also provides citizens with agency to pursue their interests in a controlled space.
Unlike recreational facilities in zone 5 which acts more like an escape, the city zone provides recreation that strengthens broader social networks and capital. These consists of museums, conference halls, and sport stadiums. Zone 4 has the needed population density to make these amenities cost-efficient. They not only provide space for entertainment but also cultural education.
The healthcare facilities are composed of modular mobile units that are shared within the city. Depending on the situation, units can also be shared between cities within the region. These units provide the basic equipment and personnel that all levels of healthcare need. The system is highly efficient as it allows for expansion and natural growth dictated by actual supply and demand.
Since they are modular, there are different configurations of these units that correlate with the different levels of healthcare. As previously mentioned, the healthcare system operates within a hierarchy. Zone 4 is home to the tertiary level of care that includes specialized care and treatment of severe cases. This singular facility serves the tertiary care needs of the entire city.
Zone 4 houses the tertiary care hospitals which are the main hubs of the mobile units and are in charge of restocking medicine and supplies, maintenance of all equipment, and disposing of medical waste. From these hubs, the mobile units then trickle down through the other levels of healthcare in lower zones.
The architecture of these units make it impossible to block the views of one mobile unit to the outside environment. Therefore, each unit must be placed in such a way that it optimizes the view towards nature. Biophilic views have proven to hasten recovery times and calming the moods of patients.
This organic system is designed to be resilient through flexibility. It’s great adaptive capacity allows it to react to almost any scenario including natural disasters and disease outbreaks.
Natural disasters can cripple the system by disabling one of the healthcare nodes within the system. In response however, the modular mobile units shift and aggregate towards the afflicted area in where they create a semi-permanent healthcare structure. Unlike tent-like structures, these units provide security, communication, dignified care. This organic system not only reacts to but can also prepare for natural disasters. Based on weather predictions, resource expensive equipment can be transferred in a moment’s notice to avoid damage.
When facing an outbreak, diseases spread faster when infected patients travel. In regards to this system, the mobile units move resources towards the infected area, negating the need to travel and isolates the disease.
Within Ecological Democracy, education is a basic right and is accessible to all. The applied system consists of three main levels: primary (elementary school), secondary (high school), and tertiary (university). Each city will contain all levels of education. Each level of education has a corresponding zone due to density and need of farther proximity. Universities are located at zone 4 to grow independence within their student population. It also gives them the freedom to freely pursue their interests. Universities also need a larger population density to operate.
Universities are specialized per city to keep it efficient and diverse within the region. When a student chooses to study a field that is not offered within their local city university, they have the option to travel. Their travel is sponsored by the government. When in a neighboring city, students are housed in a university hotel in where they have equal access to the same basic rights as locals.
Education within all the different levels promote and employ the values of Ecological Democracy. The only standard within education is its non-standardization. There is no concept of grades since there are no shared standards. To create incentives, merits are given instead not based on results but on process performance.
It is important to still have standardized testing but those would only be for entering specialized jobs like engineers and healthcare practitioners. They are performed as simulations in where exam takers would get the chance to creatively deal with real scenarios. These simulations can be done using augmented reality technology.
Students enjoy education that is tailored to their own individuality. Complex problem solving and critical thinking are employed to provide students with a process-based education. This promotes multi-faceted perspectives that are vital for systems thinking.
Universities are closely linked to local jobs and occupations. Since every organization operate within a coop system, students are integrated into one of their choosing in where they learn how they operate. This increases transparency within the system and also promote hands-on education. This apprenticeship system equips students better for the workforce.
Different types of spiritual facilities will be placed within zone 4 that equips citizens with spiritual wellness. Since citizens are free of financial and health insecurity, they are less prone to manipulation. People are free to participate with any religion of their choosing. However, these religious organizations are all composed of the same organizational structure as any other within the Ecological Democracy. They all operate under a coop structure that safeguards its mission as an organization.
Architecture is an expression and manifestation of values. The sharing of land and equitable access generate a linear structure in where construction takes place on top of the transportation network and mechanical infrastructure. This employs a highly efficient use of space. They must be built with density but still provide each citizen with ample private space to feel comfortable. Each building connects to its adjacent buildings, creating a systemic network that increases economies of scale for both harvesting and generation. Buildings must harvest water and sunlight to generate living systems.
Apart from the required linearity, each building must employ context-driven designs. Since buildings are networked, their sum must reach net-positive energy and waste. They must be constructed using only natural materials. Each ecological niche employs different techniques to reach net-positive. This creates a diverse experience for citizens as they travel along the city. Architects must design buildings to employ passive systems that maximize climate control.
The spatial planes between linear buildings are reserved for greenspace of different uses. Biological density must be a perquisite for architectural density. Between the built and unbuilt, a bike lane and sidewalk provide both access and views to biophilia, which improves health. These two different types of experiences attract unique kinds of attention: voluntary and involuntary. Voluntary attention is the type of attention given when one negotiates with the built environment and makes one more aware of their immediate surrounding. Involuntary attention is the kind we give to nature, which is a more effortless type of attention. This stimulates a more complex mindset as one traverses the city.
The buildings and greenspace are in a symbiotic relationship in terms of water management and are therefore coupled. They create another closed-loop system in where each system benefit from one another. Their spatial proximity allows one system to make use of the productive and distributive functions of another. Buildings will harvest brown water from rainfall, which will be stored and used by inhabitants. After being used, black water is sent to septic tanks where solid and liquid waste are separated. Both types of waste are rich in nutrients like ammonia that act as fertilizer for plants and will be sent to the greenspaces. Water is then filtered by these greenspaces and sent back to the building as brown water closing the nutrient loop.
In totality, buildings achieve ecological balance in where beneficial relationships with all of the elements of its local ecology are mutually sustained. Both abiotic and biotic elements of each unique site are considered within the design process. Through construction, humans play an integral, beneficial role in improving and sustaining the health and vitality of the local ecology. To add to their ecological designs, buildings must also be flexible. The contexts of buildings are prone to change such as its use, technology, and ecological restraints. Buildings within Ecological Design will be able to adapt to these different changes while minimizing costs.
All electricity used within Ecological Democracy will be harvested via renewable sources. The entire built environment acts as a wind and solar harvester. Since all the buildings and infrastructure operate within a shared network, energy at the city scale will be produced via cogeneration and maximize economies of scale. Panels and turbines are placed at optimal locations. The system is both centralized and decentralized as it is placed in close proximity to each citizen but is controlled and distributed by a central grid.
All types of energy harvester employ simple collocation techniques in where they are also used for other purposes. For example, solar panels are also used as noise barriers which is also known as a photovoltaic noise barrier (PVNB). These grid-connected solar-panel arrays are mounted to sound barriers that protect citizens from the noise generated by the manufacturing plants.
ZONE 3: DISTRICT ZONE
The district zone agriculture contains grains, vegetables and fruits that are planted via agroecological methods that resemble small forests. They are smaller areas than in zone 4 but are also maintained by farmers that are within the larger coop. Harvested produce within zone 3 are sent directly to individual homes and residents within the district. This type of agriculture is not only a nutrition provider but also a social amenity in where district members can gather.
Transportation within this zone are mainly through the use of walking and biking. This improves the health of the population as it promotes personal exercise. All destinations are designed to be accessible through any mode of transportation.
In addition to personal modes of transportation, a network of modular self-driving cars or also known as autonomous cars provide another layer and branch to the system. These are driverless cars that use the same technology as the modular health units of the healthcare system. They are capable of sensing the environment and navigating without human input. Since they operate within a network and senses its surrounding, the system minimizes injury to persons. It is only able to do so due to its shared ownership.
Individual cars grant citizens access to transportation to those with different needs such as disabilities. It also provides citizens with a more personal mode of transportation for occasions such as grocery shopping or moving furniture. These cars are connected to each individual’s personal computing device and can be hailed at any location within the city.
Jobs and Occupations
Farmers that work within zone 3 agriculture who harvest in surplus can sell their produce in the farmer’s market. Farmers markets are where not only farmers sell their fresh produce but also where other citizens can sell finished products. This provides the community with healthy products that are fresh and artisan. It also provides citizens with opportunities to have multiple sources of income by starting a microenterprise. Farmer’s markets promote education of food culture and is a great social amenity for the district.
Retail shops are found along zone 3 in where citizens use their hard earned money to lease objects that they desire such as clothing or electronics. Other retail services such as salons and barber shops are also located within zone 3.
Zone 3 also provides primary and tertiary sector job, which are service oriented occupations. They provide services to the other job sectors including but not limited to accounting, financial, and legal services. The service sector consists of the “soft” parts of the economy, which is where people offer their knowledge and time to improve productivity, performance, potential, and sustainability of the economy.
Zone 3 houses the densest social capital network within the different zones. Therefore, the recreational facilities within this zone have the most foot traffic. The district scale provides art galleries, cinemas, community pools, sports parks, churches, arcades, and dance clubs. The most important psychological effect of the given density is the way in which it moderates our relationships with other people. Strong, positive relationships are the foundations of happiness.
The district scale contains the secondary care hospital which provide second tiered healthcare to citizens. Secondary care consists of services beyond primary care services that do not need specialized care which include the ICU, surgical theaters, and such. Patient visits are higher in number when compared to the tertiary care hospital. Ambulatory care is mainly provided by said hospital which is located at optimal distance of any citizen.
These secondary hospitals will utilize a triage system for all cases to optimize efficiency and reduce cross contamination. For this triage system, collecting vitals and initial diagnosis are at the forefront of the process to prioritize segregation of patients.
The number of secondary care hospitals depend on the density and demographics of the population within the district. As all healthcare in Ecological Democracy, it is still composed of modular mobile units that connect to the other zones of healthcare.
Primary and secondary school will be provided in zone 3 since students are encouraged to live with their parents. Much like the university, these levels of education provide a process-based education that are tailored to each student’s individuality. The difference between the two is their diversity. Primary and secondary schools maintain the same model throughout the different districts that aims to be equitable to all students.
Children in primary and secondary school will not be divided by age and batches. They will be grouped based on interest and skill level, and not by age. Classes are organized by requirement but are flexible in cases when students change their minds. Students are recommended to shape their own education. Schools aid them make these decisions by exposing them to different practices and ways of learning in primary school.
Just like in the university level, there is no concept of standardized grading. Based on gamification, children are incentivize to solve difficult problems through trial and error using small and consistent incentives.
A majority component of wellness is pieced together during a child’s time in school and education. These years are crucial in building up one’s wellness state especially intellectual, emotional, mental, and social. Education must be used as a space to generate wellness within students. This prepares them to be contributing generative citizens within Ecological Democracy.
ZONE 2: NEIGHBORHOOD ZONE
Zone 2 provides citizens agriculture through community gardens, also known as allotment gardens, which are leased single pieces of land that is gardened collectively by a group of people. In essence, community gardens manifest Ecological Democracy. It promotes sharing of resources and knowledge. Citizens are incentivize to use agroecological methods as they try to produce as much with the little land they have.
Surplus produce from community gardens can be sold at the zone 3 farmers market which again provide citizens with multiple access to income. It also satisfies labor, neighborhood improvement, sense of community, and connection to the environment.
Zone 2 is measured as a 5-minute walking radius and promotes walking as a means of transportation. Walking improves not only physical health but also social and mental health. Having essential programs placed within this and different zones provide freedom for individuals to make multi-modal transportation decisions.
Each neighborhood will have a civic hall which also acts as a clubhouse. It is used for civic meetings in where citizens are required to attend to vote for actions regarding the numerous different coops. When not in use by civic activities, it turns into a clubhouse in where citizens reserve it for social functions.
Primary care is the level of the healthcare system that provides entry into the entire system. It is the front line of the entire health services system and acts as a conduit to the other branches of medicine. Its practices are organized to meet the needs of patients with undifferentiated problems. Primary care relies on routine checkups and outpatient diagnoses. Therefore, they must be equipped with being able to practice a complete diagnosis for their patients. Among all of the sectors of health care, primary care is the most important due to its preventive nature.
Primary care buildings will be composed purely of the modular mobile units and provide all the necessary services to the neighborhood. Each neighborhood would contain one aggregation of the mobile units but increase in size depending on the population of the neighborhood. These mobile units are shared across different neighborhoods and higher tiered branches of the system to maximize efficiency. Services that are routine such as dentistry will be scheduled as equipment will be circulating throughout the system.
Zone 2 consists of education facilities for young children such as pre-school and day-care. These require a smaller ratio of teacher to student and is thus in zone 2. The number of young children education facilities depend on the demographics of the neighborhood population. An eclectic curriculum is used in where there is a diverse approach to education.
ZONE 1: PERSONAL ZONE
All homes are designed to have a garden either in the interior or on the exterior. These are low-maintenance gardens that provide homeowners with the capability of planting their own herbs and spices. This aids parents communicate the importance of plants and sustainability to their children and family and provide a space for social gathering. Plants ensure a healthy environment for the family.
Healthcare is comprehensive of all scales and manifests itself even at the personal and family zone. Telehealth and health monitoring devices will be accessible to all citizens. Telehealth allows each member of society communicate with their family doctor from their home in case of inquiry and emergency. Monitoring devices on the other hand sends valuable information to their family doctors for better diagnosis.
Citizens experience different amounts of privacy throughout the many zones. Through architecture and landscape, interactions with strangers are moderated. Architecture within zone 1 must provide retreat from social engagement providing citizens with a diverse experience. People who live in dense areas feel better when they have their own place that they call sanctuary.
To ensure that each citizen receives their fair share of energy, there is an energy cap per citizen. If one chooses to exceed that limit, they would have to pay for the additional use of energy. All homes employ smart technology that links all their appliances to the net in where homeowners can maintain and manage their energy use. Monitoring devices scattered throughout the house will keep citizens aware of their energy use and its impact.
The values and principles of Ecological Democracy generate a holistic network of systems that then produce designs for the built environment. These designs are not a prescriptive blueprint tied to any actual site but can be adapted to any. They require a vast knowledge on local environmental context. It is a polymorphic framework that simultaneously strives for both universality and locality. Within Ecological Democracy, these are not opposites as it pursues a singular design that can and must be adapted to any location and environment. Its capacity to generate life hinges upon a community’s sense of place or also known as its genius loci, which is created by humanity’s innate diverse self. It has the ability to define its own unique identity through different environmental, cultural and vernacular qualities. Therefore, this design framework is fluid and not rigid. It is like a snowflake; a single formula that spawns chaos and yet maintains order.
Region Masterplan Framework
Regions are the largest proximity zone within Ecological Democracy as its scale is appropriate to consider as an ecological ecosystem and boundary. Even though it is evident that ecosystems cannot be clearly defined within a single scale, regions are delineated to create spheres of responsibility. It promotes self-organization and systemic thinking.
The size and shape of each region is dictated by the ecological capacity of each location to sustain the different zones and densities of human activity that it houses. These are not political boundaries. Their shape is determined by the resources available, needs of the collective, and their understanding of the land. Regions are large enough to make regional facilities such as airports feasible and they are designed to fully accommodate the population with agriculture and natural capital.
Each region contains cities of varying size due to the same aforementioned reason. These are all equally connected via the rapid train system providing mobility. Cities are uniformly unique interconnected places that form the region but simultaneously blurs these same boundaries. Regions are regarded as a tool for harboring ecological stewardship but not as definite boundaries that create segregation.
CITY MASTERPLAN FRAMEWORK
Whilst regions are the basic unit of ecological ecosystems, cities are its human counterpart. Cities embody Ecological Democracy as it provides citizens equal access to a rich life. Discrepancies between natural resources are minimalized through the act of sharing. It promotes its inhabitants to create relationships and communities through shared infrastructure, which can only be achieved by density.
Through density, the city is where human life flourishes and relational distances are kept short. This is achieved by optimal mobility in all modes of life. Using Ecological Democracy’s method of dense cities and scalable spatial organization, its citizens are provided with mobility. As a true social contract, citizens are given the choice to opt in or out of each city or region. This principle of freedom is at the core of the design of the city. Therefore, cities within Ecological Democracy are designed to be Transit-Oriented Developments. Its priority is to promote movement of people, their goods and services, and ultimately their ideas.
The most important psychological effect of the density cities offer is the way it moderates people’s relationships with each other. In response, the design of the city is not based on a rigid grid, but rather one that creates different opportunities for variety, whilst maintaining order. This also enables the city to adapt to any topography and environment.
Cities in Ecological Democracy are formed from the intersection of the two main railways from the rapid train system that connects all cities within the country. That intersection is the location of the main train station that acts as the center and hub for each city. From there, the city grows and shapes itself according to the natural conditions of that specific geographic location. This type of radial growth organization allows the city to be flexible. However, currency and available natural resources will dictate its urban growth boundary.
This radial growth organization takes form as two superimposed grids. Streets of 600 feet generate the initial rectilinear grid of the city while the second is a larger grid rotated by 45 degree. This second grid is the subway transportation network connecting the main hubs of the city. Each citizen has equitable access to a subway stop within a 15-minute walk. This type of layout enables the linear type of architecture to provide citizens with equitable access to everything the city has to offer. Every location within the city is just two train stops from any other location.
Afterwards, the regular city grid transforms based on the transit layout of the city. The density of street networks increase in relation to its proximity to a train and subway stop. The densest street patterns are located within the main trunk subway lines. The different sizes of the grid offer variety in housing, agriculture, and experiences. It provides efficiency in distributing populations with different interests and jobs.
The form of the city is the physical manifestation of Ecological Democracy. The perfection of the geometric form symbolizes the perfection of the political order that resides in the city. It harmoniously combines centralization and decentralization using the two overlaying grids. This form provides equity through regularization but also opportunity for different experiences of the city. It’s capacity to adapt is testament to the values of Ecological Democracy.
TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM FRAMEWORK
The transportation system used within Ecological Democracy is multi-modal which empowers its citizens with alternatives and choices for how they move. Each mode of transportation matches the density of each zone making it highly efficient. This multi-modal system operates within a branch network utilizing the rapid train system as its main trunk. This trunk connects each region and city throughout the country. Branching from the trunk is the sub-way system that connects all districts within the city.
This subway system has stops that are located at regular intervals making it easy to use. They are organized within the city to be a 15-minute walk at most from any location. These sub-way stops are then connected through various modes of transportation such as buses, networked individual driverless cars, biking, and walking.
The branch system is highly efficient through the use of proper gatekeeping. Citizens use the appropriate mode of transportation depending on the distance they are travelling. Furthermore, all types of transportation use renewable resources. Heat generated from the friction caused by transportation is recycled for other purposes.
DISTRICT MASTERPLAN FRAMEWORK
The zoning system applied within Ecological Democracy is based on proximity and density. This generates a city as an aggregate of districts. The center of these districts are located every other intersection created by the grid. They occur every 10-minute walking radius (2400 feet). Intersections are highly valuable in creating spaces that generate social capital and innovations.
There are three main types of buildings per district. Building type A is mostly a mixed-use residential building that contains a bus stop, retail, primary healthcare facility, pre-school, and housing.
Building type B contains a bus stop, industrial factories, and office spaces. These buildings are where small to medium scaled businesses are located. They are multi-storied facilities that are shared by multiple cooperatives. Since they are located at the perimeter of each district, they are also shared among adjacent districts, which create a larger network of social capital. It also ensures that each factory has enough human capital to operate efficiently.
The third type, Building type C houses subway stop, bus stop, retail, secondary healthcare facility, elementary and high school, civic hall, club house, and recreational facilities. This center is designed as the most open and social space within a district. It contains the most human activity. Each district center will differ from one another, especially the recreational facilities it contains.
Each district within the city contain a full range of labor opportunities that provide citizens with mobility and choice. Furthermore, it strengthens the basic social unit within Ecological Democracy: the family.
Housing within Ecological Democracy employs traditional apartment typology to create consistency and equity. Vertical circulation allows efficient spatial distribution. Apartments come in three different unit sizes to suit the ever changing needs of citizens. Variety results in a unified system that rationally allocates space according to need and function. Since there is no ownership in terms of housing, the system is organic as it prioritizes mobility and efficiency.
Each unit has equitable access to amenities regardless of its size, including a garden and an auxiliary space. They blend public and private space to create a full spectrum of activity and respite. The garden provides the homeowners their own individual space to plant herbs and spices. This space becomes a part of the family dynamic as planting techniques and even seeds are passed down through generations. It also provides a natural air filtering system to ensure a healthy living environment.
The auxiliary space on the other hand is a semi-shared space in where homeowners can appropriate depending on their interests; may it be a dance studio, woodshop, or playground. It is open for their neighborhoods to use and is a great opportunity for individuals to feel empowered to share their own talents and techniques.
The units are arranged bilaterally to provide large sweeping views for all inhabitants. The circulation corridor is placed in between these units and the external façade. This space provides an additional opportunity for social interaction that is bathed in light but also as a thermal barrier. In addition, these units are constructed with a double height to ensure sunlight access to the interior space.
ENERGY, WATER, AND WASTE SYSTEM FRAMEWORK
The architecture of buildings differ in every location due to its environment and micro-climate. It employs a passive design which minimizes both energy use and environmental cost. Every building in Ecological Democracy employs a decentralized closed-loop system for its energy, water, and waste management. By utilizing a decentralized system, transmission and piping are shortened making the system much more efficient. All resources used are renewable and buildings must achieve net-zero. This ensures sustainability and resiliency as it less prone to systemic calamity as it is independent and autonomous.
However, not all locations within the globe will be able to achieve net-zero per building. If so, then the entire city must be net-zero. All buildings within the city are still connected within a grid that centrally distributes these services that are shared.
The scale of the linear building in relation to the greenspace around it is optimal for this kind of closed-loop system. It utilizes a large scale water retention scheme that makes use of several ponds and lakes, which then filters the water for reuse. This is part of the narrative for the landscape.
Within Ecological Democracy exists a transect for agriculture in where different zones and scales provide its diverse citizens with access. Depending on their occupation, each citizen can interact with different levels of agriculture that coincides with their lifestyle. Organizing agriculture in this method also ensures sustainability for both its people and the natural environment. The transect can be applied to any location but must be adapted to the specific environment.
HEALTHCARE SYSTEM ORGANIZATION
Very much like the transportation system, the healthcare system of Ecological Democracy utilizes a branch system. The Regional Ministry of Health is responsible for gathering health data within the region then allocation resources based on said information. They continuously monitor disease burdens and trends of illnesses. The City Tertiary Hospital offers all services from Primary to Tertiary care and is reserved for people in real need within the city. The District Secondary Hospitals on the other hand houses the services most often needed by a community. The Primary Neighborhood Clinic that is located per neighborhood serves the population with all their daily primary care needs such as check-ups and consultations.
It is highly efficient because of the same gatekeeping principle as the transportation system. Only patients that need specialized care will be sent to the tertiary hospital while the rest goes through the system. The system is composed of both fixed architecture and modular mobile units. These modular mobile units contain primary care services that travel on the same road as the transportation system. This system enables healthcare to share resources and information.
HEALTHCARE INFRASTRUCTURE SYSTEM
The infrastructure system of the healthcare system operates in the same manner as the organization. This organic system allows for expansion and retraction dictated by both supply and demand. Since it is modular, it allows for different permutations of service delivery based on the health needs of a community.
The City Tertiary Hospital can be found at the main train station of the city. This enables it to share its resource with different cities effectively. The District Hospital is located within Building Type C and thus can be found in every district. These two facilities are reserved mostly for inpatient procedures and emergencies. Most primary care services will be offered in the Neighborhood Primary Clinic which is found in every Building Type A’s. These services are mostly carried out by modular mobile health units or MHU which are shared across the system.
All healthcare related resources within the city are centrally housed at the City Tertiary Hospital. They are in charge of distribution and allocation of said resources. The MHU carry all the necessary supplies and personnel from the City Tertiary Hospital to both the District Hospital and the Neighborhood Primary Clinic. This enables the system to provide equal access to the same standard of healthcare throughout the city.
HEALTHCARE ADAPTIVE CAPACITY
Adaptive capacity is defined as the capacity of a system to adapt if the environment where the system exists is changing. It’s a systems ability to adjust to disturbances, moderate potential damage, takes advantage of opportunities, and copes with the consequences of the occurring transformation. It can be enhanced by: learning to live with change and uncertainty, nurturing diversity for resilience, combining different types of knowledge for learning, and creating opportunity for self-organization towards social-ecological sustainability.
Using said metrics, the organic healthcare system of Ecological Democracy has an optimal level of adaptive capacity. It can respond to any scenario as it is both research-based and organic. It has the ability to define and shape itself. It can adapt to both natural disasters and disease outbreaks.
During a natural disaster, reaction is quick due to the inherent modularity and constant motion of the MHU’s. When one area gets struck by a natural disaster and cripples its infrastructure, the MHU’s react and shift. They can be transported in almost any means necessary, and when they do they aggregate and form a semi-permanent health structure. These units are equipped with all the required equipment and personnel to deliver dignified care provided by the nearest capable City District Hospital.
Not only does the system react to natural disasters, it also prepares for it. Meteorologists can predict the weather to a certain extent. The healthcare system can brace for the impact of a natural disaster by displacing units in the predicted affected area to decrease loss of equipment and personnel.
Similar to the natural disaster scenario, the MHU’s can move resources to deal with specific issues such as disease outbreaks. These are carefully monitored by the Regional Ministry of Health. For this kind of scenario, the system needs to quickly isolate the disease. Transportation and movement of infected patients must be hastily prohibited to cease the spread.
MODULAR MOBILE HEALTH UNIT (MHU)
All MHU’s are designed to function as independent units that can operate autonomously. Each one is equipped with: skylights to enhance user experience, photo-voltaic panels to lengthen operation time, large apertures to improve transparency and enhance user experience, foldable edges to improve structure and create different aggregation vernacular, ventilation fans to increase air circulation, air conditioning to keep interior space dry and cool which increases user experience, water tank to provide clean water, battery that recharges at the docking station, and a garbage vestibule that is decontaminated in a docking station which resolves hazardous waste. They are transported from one place to another using the same technology and system of the self-driving cars.
Unlike every other design and architecture within Ecological Democracy, MHU’s are all designed in a uniform fashion. They are designed to be part of a network that relies on its consistency due to the nature of how it aggregates.
MHU DISASTER AGGREGATION
The MHU’s can aggregate in numerous different ways depending on the situation and the extent of the disaster. The first type of aggregation makes use of the MHU’s foldable edges to create a curve-like structure. Undulating forms, wave motions, and nonlinearity are crucial and omnipresent in nature. It has proven to hasten patient recovery. The curved path allows patients to engage with the architecture more actively. This type of aggregation is designed for small demand areas where a waiting area is unnecessary. It has the capacity to keep aggregating and form a panopticon.
The second type of aggregation takes advantage of the folding doors to create a wide hallway from the negative space in-between units. This type of aggregation is optimal for larger demand areas in where transparency is essential. Since units are facing each other, nurses and doctors can respond to emergency situations quicker. The transparency leads to optimization of the system and decreases amount of needed practitioners on site. Large hallway can also be used to house the waiting room or can be made to a recreational space.
For the purpose of this thesis, a real geographic site was chosen to simulate the values, systems, and frameworks of Ecological Democracy. This site is treated as a tabula rasa which negates any context aside from natural conditions. The Calabarzon Region of the Philippines was chosen to test the manifesto as it contains a variety of topographical elements such as volcanoes, flat planes and lakes.
Calabarzon or also known as Region IV-A is situated in the southwestern part of Luzon. This region is composed of 5 provinces which collectively house a total of 20 cities. Its current regional boundaries is about 6,300 square miles which will be altered during simulation to fit the appropriate regional scale of Ecological Democracy.
CITY SIMULATION SITE: CALAMBA CITY
Calamba City was chosen to test the feasibility of the city scale design framework spawned from the values of Ecological Democracy. This specific city was chosen for its adjacency to a lake and mountain side wherein both are at risk of unsustainability. The large flat plain in between is an ideal opportunity to test reconcilement of human settlement with its natural environment.
Mapping the flood hazard levels of the site shows that it is susceptible to 1.5 to 5 feet of flooding. These are mainly caused by the many rivers that flow across the site. Site was chosen to proximity of rivers to provide source of water. Flooding will add to the design constraints of the simulation.
Spatial analysis of landslide hazards reveal that the site is not in proximity of any “no dwelling zones”. There are some small areas within the site wherein construction have to be reinforced with slope protection.
The soil type analysis shows that the city will be built mostly on top of vertisol soil, which has a high content of expansive clay known as montmorillonite that forms deep cracks in drier seasons or years. Alternate shrinking and swelling causes self-munching, where the material consistently mixes itself. The natural vegetation of vertisols is grassland, savanna, or grassy woodland. The heavy texture and unstable behavior of the soil makes it difficult for many tree species to grow, and forest is uncommon. When irrigation is available, crops such as cotton, wheat, sorghum and rice can be grown.
Climate analysis of the site showcases the drastic variations in its precipitation and number of wet days. This natural phenomena with the soil type vertisol provides a sustainability challenge.
CITY SIMULATION PHASE 1
Firstly, the design framework proposed generates a grid that is overlaid on site. It’s geographic epicenter, which is the intersection of the railways is positioned based on site analysis. It is located at the most stable land in where it also has the ability to radially grow outwards equally. The number of streets and blocks are based on the carrying capacity of the environment to sustain the basic standard of living of the population it houses. The orientation of the grid is based on the contour of the topography.
CITY SIMULATION PHASE 2
The next phase of the design framework transforms the initial grid based on the transit layout of the city. The density of street network increases in relation to its proximity to a train and subway stop. The densest street patterns are located within the main trunk subway lines. The different sizes of the grid offer variety in housing, agriculture, and experiences. It provides efficiency in distributing populations with different interests and jobs.
CITY SIMULATION PHASE 3
The standardized grid is then adapted to the site based on its natural ecology. As all design frameworks within Ecological Democracy, the grid provides flexibility in a rigid manner. The limited methods of manipulation ensure strict application of the design framework. The grid conforms to the shape of the river and the topography. It then extends towards the river to provide citizens access to aquaculture. The subway lines stay consistent as it travels underneath the rivers. City scale facilities such as universities disrupt the pattern, adding to the diversity and complexity of each city.
CITY SIMULATION PHASE 4
Next, a figure ground is applied to the adapted grid. This figure ground is based on the standardized building typologies provided by the framework. Manipulations of the standard grid will create discrepancies in the pattern of building typologies. It is up to the discretion of the city cooperative to determine how to proceed in placing additional buildings.
All zoning within Ecological Democracy is based on proximity. Therefore, zoning within the city is categorized using the building typologies. However, the Building Type C’s at the perimeter are reserved for the primary sector industry. The types of industries they house are based on the adjacent natural resources. The west side of the city will be reserved for the mining and logging industry as it stands next to a mountain that is rich with minerals and forests. The north and south side will be used for the agricultural sector such as food processing. They are adjacent to flatland which is used for growing and collecting food. Lastly, the east side which faces the lake is used for fresh water fishing and fish farming.
CITY TRANSPORTATION NETWORK
The transportation network system of the city is generated using the design framework. Since cities are designed to be transit-oriented, the street and population density increases in proximity to a subway stop. These stops are located to not be farther than a 15-minute walk from any point in the city. The organization of the network is such that each passenger only needs one transfer to reach the main central terminal. This initial network is complimented with a robust rapid bus system and automated cars. The train stations also act as nodes for the transportation of goods and services such as the Modular Mobile Health Units across the city and the region.
BUILDING TYPE A
This is the most common typology within the city and each operate under the neighborhood zone. Building Type A’s contain a bus stop, retail, primary healthcare center, pre-school, and housing.
The housing units are designed to provide its residents with an environment that is conducive to a healthy lifestyle. The varying levels of privacy provides citizens with a range of social interactions giving them choice. This gradient is further extended towards each unit where there is a clear division between public and private spaces. The public spaces have a double height elevating the sense of crowding. The emphasis on the living room, dining room, and kitchen showcases the family unit as the basic unit of Ecological Democracy.
As per the framework, each housing unit within the building has its own garden space that acts as the agriculture within zone 2. Residents can use this green space to plant their own fruits, herbs, and spices. It is geared towards the health of the occupants by not only filtering the air and providing them visual access to nature, but also exercises their autonomy by allowing them to freely appropriate the space.
To that end, each unit also has access to an auxiliary space in where they are also free to appropriate. The auxiliary space can be turned into anything that the occupants deem desirable including a dance studio, art studio, wood shop, and more. These are openly shared to the neighbors which builds more social capital. This space creates a third place, different from the home and work. The built familiarity of neighbors create an overall sense of safety and mitigates psychosocial stress associated with isolation.
The slanted façade of the building provides ample sunlight access to all units. It also acts as a component of the closed-loop rainwater harvesting system.
BUILDING TYPE B
Building Type B contains a bus stop, retail, offices, and small factories. It has an open floorplan that can be adapted to any kind of business. Its scale allows the leaser to adapt it to their specific needs. It also opens up the space for more cross business interactions. All business and cooperatives are incentives to have an office as it promotes face to face interactions which are much more productive.
As with all buildings in Ecological Democracy, it is part of a sustainable food system, walkable environment, and active transportation infrastructure which increases workers' health on and off the job. It's passive systems including cooling through ventilation and daylighting control generates a healthy and productive working environment.
The buildings proximity to each home provide workers with choices such as walking back home to have lunch with family. This type of access and environment generate a working environment not based on hours in the office but focus more on tasks. This fluidity of working hours create a more efficient use of time.
BUILDING TYPE C
Building Type C houses most of the social activity within each district and acts as its central hub. The programs within includes a subway stop, bus stop, retail, Secondary School, Secondary Healthcare Center, Auditorium, Sports Facilities, and Offices.
Since Ecological Democracy decreases the spread of illness, the Secondary Healthcare Center mostly focuses on inpatient care. It is designed using two main triage sequences: emergency and main. The center has a two-axis corridor that divides the intensive care unit and the outpatient surgical services. Intensive care has multiple entrances using the MHU docking bay. MHU’s act as the ambulatory system and connects the Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Healthcare system. It transfers patients depending on their needs.
Emergency patients are either transferred or admitted. Those that are transferred from a Primary Healthcare Center enter the building through the MHU docking bay. Others go through the main lobby in where everyone receives an immediate triage check-up in which determines their destination. Immediate triage is important for decreasing cross-contamination and hospital in-borne diseases.
The Secondary School on the other hand is designed to accommodate students ranging from 5 to 18 years of age. It has rooms designed for separate disciplines and pedagogies but also space in where they merge. Since it is a shared space, the school is also open to everyone. This allows the schools facilities such as the auditorium, dance studio, and laboratories to be used by anyone within Ecological Democracy.
In between the school and the offices above are sports facilities shared by everyone in the district. This includes a gym, swimming pool, tennis court, basketball court, and an indoor football field.
These differing programs are layered within a single building to flow with one another providing opportunities for cross innovations. This is made possible by the sharing of space.
VIGNETTE ONE: GINNY
Ginny and her husband is brought to wake by a gentle cool breeze and the sounds of trees rustling. They both check the hologram for the weather outside and takes note that it is hot and humid. Ginny then takes a quick shower that is timed to her needs. As she steps out of the shower, appropriate clothes for the weather are laid out in front of her by the automated cabinetry system. No time is wasted. She then proceeds to make sure the rest of the family is awake and ready. Ginny and her husband check everyone's health and vitals via their health monitoring device.
Everyone gathers at the kitchen in where they make breakfast together. Some say most of the real stuff of life takes place around the kitchen table. They make a simple meal together that including eggs from the hatchery down the street, bread from the bakery downstairs, and vegetables and fruits from the garden upfront and the greenhouse up top. After breakfast, Ginny helps prepare her two children for school. She tells her older son to watch out for his sister as she is still learning how to bike. She watches them leave for school as she prepares to depart herself. She is reminded by her alarm system that she and her husband have to attend the weekly meeting at the city hall.
Once a week, before heading to work, all adults are required to attend the district zone meeting. During this time, decisions for the district zone are made in where everyone votes electronically. Today they are deciding if they should spend resources on the construction of a new office building. Ginny and her husband receive all the information they need to make the decision on their tablet. She decides to approve the project because it matches all the construction criteria and is aligned with the initially proposed masterplan. After the meeting, there is ample time in where Ginny gets to meet her friends and neighbors with a cup of locally brewed tea. She then heads straight to work.
From the city hall, Ginny takes the train to the plant that manufactures toilets in where she works as both an accountant and as the coop director. As part of the board, she helps make sure that the plant optimizes the resources that it utilizes. Although the work is consuming, she can still breath and exhale with a smile.
In the middle of the afternoon, Ginny commutes back home to prepare dinner with her family. On the way, she picks up ingredients from the wet market. When she arrives, a scampering of little feet leapt and her children greet her with a warm hug.
VIGNETTE TWO: MARCO
In the middle of October, Marco is awakened by a series of small electric pulses from his smart band signaling his time to wake. As he raises his head, he calls his mother using the same band to greet her a happy birthday. After they converse, he prepares for his day by taking a quick shower and then clothing himself. Afterwards, he goes and helps cooks breakfast for his fellow students at the dormitories using the shared kitchen downstairs. Him and his classmates eat breakfast, was their dishes and utensils, then walk to class together.
Marco is beginning his last year as a transfer university student, and hails from an entirely different city. He currently lives in a city sponsored dormitory that provides for all his needs. For his college education, Marco chose to pursue marine biology as his first choice, which unfortunately is not offered in his own city. Slots for out-of-city students are limited as the interest for marine biology was high during the time of his application. The metrics of success for student acceptances are based on efficiency, which means their merit, skills, and potential. Marco remembers being ecstatic when he received his acceptance letter after days of waiting.
Today, his class begins with a short lecture on the Basking shark. As soon as the lecture concludes, his entire class and the professor hails a bus which brings them to the outskirts of town. They then get changed to their wet suit and prepare their equipment to go diving. When they get on the boat, Marco takes a moment to appreciate just how nice and clean the water is. He had taken a history class in where he saw the sad state it was in prior to Ecological Democracy.
While on the boat, they monitor the different schools of fishes that were once almost extinct but are now in recovery. When they finally arrived on their diving destination, they take a deep plunge. During their dive, his class finds a rich ecological system, full of fishes and corrals. They also find the remnant of an old submarine that has now been used as a home by many different fishes.
After their trip, Marco heads back to his dorm in where dinner has been prepared by his dorm mates. During dinner, they have a great meaningful conversation on the things that they have learned today.
VIGNETTE THREE: JOHN
On a hot summer's day, John was happily playing football with his fellow teammates on a field not so far away from his house. As he was finally breaking a sweat, he trips with his hand outstretched, which leads to a broken arm. He faints from the excruciating pain as his bone protrudes out of his skin.
His teammates immediately call for an ambulance which are also known as Mobile Healthcare Units (MHU). It arrives within 10 minutes. John was then carried on to the ambulance with the help of his teammates and the nurse that arrived with the MHU named Chris. Once on board, Chris scans John's wound and sends his vitals to the healthcare network. The feedback is immediate and the MHU begins to drive itself to the nearest Secondary Healthcare Center with an available ICU and surgeon. During the trip, Chris begins to stabilize John.
As soon as they arrive to the Secondary Healthcare Center, the MHU docks itself which opens up right next to the ICU. With the help of the other attending nurses, John unloads Chris unto the hallway that leads straight to the ICU. When they finally arrived to the ICU, they prep Chris for surgery. The present surgeon uses the Da Vinci Surgical System to realign John's broken bone and implanted wires and screws which will maintain proper alignment during healing. As soon as they are finished, John is then sent to an individual Patient Care Unit on the third floor.
When John wakes up, he finds himself in a bright room with a grand view of the landscape outside. With a slight struggle, he turns around to see his wife and children sleeping right beside him. His time at the hospital is swift and pleasant.
VIGNETTE FOUR: JANE
Jane had forgotten to set her alarm up and wakes up with a small panic. She is going to be late for her first day in school if she does not hurry. Jane takes a very quick shower, gets dressed, and has a really quick breakfast that her mother prepared before she left for her job. On her way out of the house, Jane picks some fruit that her mom and her have planted a few weeks ago. She then gets on a bike and pedals away.
Fortunately, she arrives at school just in time and heads straight to the auditorium. Since it is the first day of school, teachers spend the morning enthusiastically presenting their classes to the students. Classes are not grouped by age and provide a diverse range of experiences. At the end of everyone's presentation, the students then get to pick their own classes, which are distributed equitably through an efficient algorithm that matches the students choice with their merit, skills, and potential.
As soon as Jane and her other schoolmates had finished with her choices, they receive a notification of their schedule for the rest of the semester. Jane notices that her she didn't receive her top choice of Advanced Robotics, but still got all the other classes she signed up for. Amidst her slight disappointment, she is still ecstatic for her other classes.
During lunch, Jane finally gets to meet up with her friends downstairs at the canteen. She picks up her freshly prepared lunch from the counter and sits by all her friends. During the first day of school, lunch is prepared by all the faculty as a way to greet the children. However, during the year, groups of students are assigned to help prepare lunch for the entire school. As soon as they had finished their lunch, Jane and her friends wash their own dishes at the dishwashing area of the canteen. They then proceed to thank their teachers for a wonderful meal.
Afterwards, the students are free to roam around the campus and meet their friends and teachers. There are no classes held on the first day. Jane then goes to see her dance teacher Yek. They talked about their summers and what they have been up to since school ended last year. Jane then went on to see a few other teachers.
When Jane finally decided to head home, she simply walks back to her house. She notices that her mom isn't home yet and wonders if she will be late from work. Jane then starts to prepare for dinner. Her mom arrives just right after to help her finish cooking the food. They then have dinner together as the sun sets in the background.
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