Living Design Process in Practice – Some Examples

Hey all. Continuing on this theme of what Living Design Process looks and feels like in practice, here I share a video of a recent presentation I made to the Building Beauty group. The theme was sharing some of my experiments in applying the living process approach of Christopher Alexander. Including the design and creation of gardens on the rooftops of a large residential suburban development.


  1. Oh incredible! Thank you so much for this. It’s a fascinating design process and I am excited to spend more time exploring it.
    I was interested in your ‘function over form’ comment about permaculture. I have always included ergonomics and aesthetics as important patterns. A space that is enticing to people will not be loved, and a space not loved will not inspire people to invest their time or energy into that space. We find things beautiful for a reason. That level of resonance with a place, a sense of ‘rightness’ about the spaces and the scale, and the ease with which we navigate pathways, stairs and slopes are all part of good design. I have never seen the living design process before and I am excited by its potential to integrate the human animals back into the environment.
    I recently had a conversation with a First Nations friend, explaining how horrified I was when I heard that white settlers designated them ‘animals’ so that they could steal their land. ‘Why are you horrified by that?’ she asked, ‘Better to be horrified by that fact that they didn’t think they were animals. Of course we are animals. We are part of the natural world. Everything that is wrong with humans can be traced back to forgetting that.’
    I had an email exchange with Clive Blazey from Diggers when he declared permaculture ugly in his magazine. ‘It’s the polystyrene boxes and old tyres. Ugliness is offensive to the soul.’ I invited him to come and see our place the next time he was in Sydney. He did, and we spent an enjoyable day together talking about beauty, design, and how Clive has naturally aligned himself with permaculture without ever learning about it. We can see this in the human family across the planet; those that through study or intuition independently develop a life completely aligned with the ethics and principles without ever knowing them.
    I continue to believe that permaculture provides us with a pattern for the best way to be human. It seems that the living design process could well be the best way to translate that pattern to place.
    Down the rabbit hole I go!

    I would be interested in knowing your thoughts on how you would describe the relationship between permaculture and the living design process. Are they a two circled ven diagram? Is one an evolutionary step up from the other?

    Sincerely grateful to you once again.

    1. Thanks Meg – right on and you end with an excellent question I am going to have to ponder on and get back to you about :-).

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