The following 3 dimensional Permaculture site simulation was done with Casey, on a north hemisphere context.
Here is the site context to start with;
Year one (below) consists in the settlement of an habitat, creating swales to address erosion and facilitate reforestation. Zone zero has been chosen taking into account alternative keypoints, the capacity to irrigate a large portion of the land by gravity and to receive sun light even in winter;
Year 2 is focusing the Permaculture design on vegetable production. We realize that the green house need to be but in between the wind break in charge of violent rain protection and the house to get enough sun and be close to keyhole gardens. The first simulation is as following;
Analyzing the 3D Permaculture model we realize that the green house need to be integrated to the house for rain protection. We analyze as well the water overflow cinematic to make sure we do not create a risk situation since water can be very destructive.
Discussing further on future steps we realize we forgot to protect the zone 1 from constant and drying dominant winds and create a wind break.
The year 2 design alternative is as following;
Year 3 we take conscience that reforestation, specifically on productive trees (orchard and pioneer fruit trees) become a priority. Having the plan to build a guest house we decide to integrate this resource (nutrients coming from the guest house) to nurture an orchard, and position the integrated subsystem on the right of the model. We plant trees in between the swales as well being conscious that this new forested zone will represent a flow of nutrients (mulching and humus) to zone 1 by gravity.
The simulation for year 3 is as following;
Then Casey realize an issue; the lack of winter sun in the orchard area, therefore she decides to move the guest house and the orchard to the left as shown in the following simulation; The following scenario shows as well that a wind break needs to be added to protect the orchard from dominant wind and that this wind break should have been planted at least in year 2 if not year 1.
At this step is seems sterile to define a plan for the following years since year 3 already integrate too many new features and only during year 2 a decision will be taken on how to prioritize the development of shown functions as : an event stage, a shelter for the cow and integration of a cow, a parking lot as an infrastructure for hosting the events and associated landscape architecture to absorb the visit of important population at once (dry toilets, recycling of humanure, etc.)
Every step allows to make an effortless reverse engineering to envision what was missing in the previous step. This way no decision are made that could impact negatively the project evolution.
Compared to a drawing a 3D simulation platform add a 3rd dimension of space (helping to project the dynamic of gravity) and a lot of flexibility to travel in time and make simulations.
This simulation was made in 2 days only with a simplified set of contextual rules. A deeper context definition (pluviometry and rain frequency, climate change evolution, air flows and temperature, etc…) and longer simulation analysis would have given more scenarios and more appropriate results. The same way a zoom on zone 1 could have been made in order to optimize the incoming (nutrients) and outgoing flows (material for composting and genetic code for plantation) of this sub ecosystem considering that the veggie garden was a priority and could be considered a critical feature to focus on.
A check list for property survey prior to venue is available here in case a student aims to make a design of an existing landscape.
See more about the importance of simulation in the systemic approach here : the genesis of the 12 Permaculture principles in a systemic perspective