Photo: Anthony Quintano
The New Urbanism movement has created a whole new way of looking at land development. Predicated on a more sustainable relationship between buildings and human activity, it shares our concern for a more ecologically and socially conscious approach to urbanization, and for a closer relationship between nature, technology, and the urban fabric. As part of our work in this field, we have been requested to contribute spiritual and geomantic recommendations in a variety of land development projects, including residential subdivisions, mixed use neighborhoods, resort developments, and intentional communities.
We first assess the quality of the land and its topography in order to determine the relative potential of the site. Geological and geopathic stresses (earth energies that are detrimental to life) are also diagnosed, as these can pose significant risks to both health and fortune. Recommendations are then made for ideal land use patterns which respect both town planning concerns as well as cosmic and spiritual forces. Ideal location of functions and optimal building orientations are also proposed. Finally, suggestions are made to maximize opportunity and to minimize drawbacks due to poor land massing, improper water patterns, or insufficient earth energy. In addition, guidelines are provided for optimal design of street patterns, service facilities, civic institutions, individual buildings, gardens and landscaping.
Our contributions to urbanism have included analyzes of the land patterns in the towns of Aspen (CO), Waccabuc (NY), Rockford (IL), Mill Valley (CA), Highland Lake (NC), Tecate (Mexico), Puerto Vallarta (Mexico), Ocotal (Costa Rica) and Bahia Grande (Panama).
We are currently engaged in land development projects in San Bernardino (CA), Fayetteville (WV), Edgewater (NJ), Boulder (CO), St. Lucia (West Indies), and Trinidad & Tobago. In all of these cases our work has been motivated by a desire to create environments that are sustainable, economically sound, and fully capable of creating wholesome communities.
SITE PLANNING AND THE COSMOS
In traditional feng shui practice, every outdoor space, no matter how small, is considered to be a representation of the larger Cosmos. Each element of a site or landscape is therefore symbolic of larger forces in the region: houses can be metaphorical of mountains, roads can represent rivers, and parking lots lakes. Land development is therefore seen as a way to connect to larger cosmic forces through the correct placement of buildings, roads, water ways, vegetation, and public services. Whereas the interior of a structure is conceived in terms of the movement of energies and the disposition of objects in architectural space, outdoor environments are more directly correlated to the larger forces of nature and to the elementary components of the physical world. Land planning from the feng shui perspective is the orchestration of vast cosmic forces on behalf of the community, its civic identity, and the wealth, health, and success of future generations. In my work in this field, I therefore strive to create practical environments that reflect civic as well as natural and cosmic considerations.
To achieve this goal, I make use of many tools and methods. These include traditional feng shui site selection criteria, earth energy assessments, building orientations, functional allocations of uses and zoning, and architectural studies of optimal form, scale, and footprint for all types of structures. In addition to residences, commercial structures, and public buildings, I also work with gardens, paths, streams and rivers, water features, rock outcroppings, temples, monuments, and large-scale sculpture. Furthermore, all of these considerations are also correlated against more subtle factors such as geopathic stresses (detrimental earth energies), global geomagnetic forces, underground water, and mineral deposits. The ultimate goal is to create regional and local environments that are supportive of its inhabitants, their families, and their aspirations.
Creating wholesome communities requires that we be conscious of our role at many different levels. These range from the location and orientation of whole towns or developments, to the position of individual buildings or civic amenities within that fabric. Feng shui provides clear directives on how to evaluate the impact of larger geographical regions and topographical formations (land form, rivers, road systems, prevailing weather patterns, electric and telecommunications grids) on human life. These larger issues are then correlated with the position and orientation of public structures within the urban fabric, and their relationship to residences, commercial structures, agriculture, and industry. Finally, the design of individual structures or units is correlated against the larger issues of site planning to insure that small-scale concerns do not overwhelm the larger context and vice versa. It is this holographic approach that sets feng shui and geomancy apart from most contemporary efforts in land development.
Feng shui approaches to land development include not only hard architectural concerns and traditional site planning, but also metaphysical considerations. These include assessments of the propriety of development on specific sites, the manner in which this development is to proceed, and the timing of such undertaking. Feng shui provides excellent tools for determining optimal dates and times for contract signing, ground breaking, and grand openings. Dowsing techniques can be used to locate underground mineral deposits that may pose radiation or radon risks. Dowsing can also be used to locate potable water and to forecast its availability and yields into the future. Other tools help us to evaluate a whole range of trends and risks, including future development patterns, or the potential for fires, illnesses, or financial difficulties at any point in the future history of the development.
In addition, special techniques allow us to remediate certain types of problems currently ignored by planners and developers, but which can nevertheless have dramatic impacts on public acceptance, reputation, and ultimately, the bottom line of a development project. These include the presence of burial grounds, old war zones, crime, and in some rare cases, hauntings or other paranormal phenomena. Building rituals, in particular, offer protection from these more esoteric concerns, and are also effective in promoting overall success, health, and user satisfaction.
SUSTAINABILITY AND GREEN BUILDING
The evaluation of a site for urbanization or for commercial development requires that we be conscious of the immediate impact that this type of activity may have on the biosphere and on our own potential for health. Land development now represents the most important reason for the loss of bio diversity. Built environments, furthermore, account for 48% of all energy consumption (and therefore proportionally to greenhouse gases) and for almost 30 % of all municipal wastes. It is therefore important that all efforts be made to ensure that land development occur in as healthy and conscious a manner as possible. I therefore wholly endorse the use of green and sustainable materials, design approaches, and building practices.
More importantly, land development also needs to be conscious of the models of human growth and development that guide these efforts. Sprawl, and the building codes that enforce its spread in most communities in the USA have also to be taken into consideration, as they perpetuate building and development efforts that are highly destructive to nature and the social fabric. In this respect, I wholeheartedly endorse the New Urbanism concepts espoused by the Congress on New Urbanism, and the green building guidelines set forth by the Green Building Council, LEEDS.
Please consult the Resources section for information on Non-Toxic environments and Electro-Magnetic Radiation.