Permaculture Designers Manual




Section 4.4 –

Properties of Media in Permaculture

Media, as a result of their chemistry, physical properties, or abstract characteristics, can be identified by us because they differ from each other.

We distinguish not only air, water, earth and stone but also hot, cold, salty, acid, and even some areas of knowledge as having different properties or validity.

Every such difference has a more or less well defined BOUNDARY CONDITION, surface, or interfaces to other media or systems.

Permaculture itself acts as a translator between many disciplines and brings together information from several areas.

It can be described as a framework or pattern into which many forms of knowledge are fitted in relation to each other.

Permaculture is a synthesis of different disciplines.”

Any such boundary is at lines between, at limes within, media, and (as in the case of the earth/air surface) these boundaries, surfaces, or perceptible differences present a place for things to happen, for events to locate.

Thus, boundaries present an opportunity for us to place a translatory element in a design or to deform the surface for specific flow or translation to occur.

If the media are in gaseous or liquid form, or composed of mobile particles like a crowd of people, swarm of flies, water, or dust clouds, then the media are themselves capable of flow and deformation.

In nature, many such media and boundaries can be distinguished. As one example, a pond (with part of its margin) is shown In Figure 4.6.

Although differently named (or not named at all), all these surfaces, edges and boundaries separate different media, ecological assemblies, physical states, or flow conditions.

Every boundary has a unique behavior and a translation potential. Living translators (trees, fish, mollusks, water striders) live at each and every boundary.

We can see that the establishment of complex boundary conditions is another primary strategy for generating complex life assemblies and energy translators.

Most biologists; (says Vogel, 1981) “seem to have heard of the boundary layer, but they have a fuzzy notion that it is a discrete region, rather than the discrete notion that it is a fuzzy region.”


Boundary/Edge Design Strategy

The creation of complex boundary conditions is a basic design strategy for creating spatial and temporal niches.