RDA 9. Living infrastructure

From Regenerative Knowledge Commons

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Pattern page for RDA 9. Living infrastructure pattern
If SDG 8, was the weakest by way of cherishing, protecting and regenerating living systems, SDG 9 is by contrast, the boldest advocate for their efficient and sustained destruction.

SDG Shortcomings

SDG 9 blatantly calls for "resilient infrastructure" that enables "sustainable industrialization," which translates further investment, expansion and development of its extractive and destructive machinery for impoverishing communities and dismantling living systems. It attempts to disguise itself, behind the empty rhetoric of sustainability and the empty promise that technology will save the day.


Our industrialized, modern world is replete with underutilized and outdated, structures that no longer serve a purpose, much less serve Life. These required massive amounts of material and energy expenditures to be built, maintained and eventually demolished, to make way for yet another such structure.

Living systems

All structures in the Universe are results of dynamic processes which produce varying degrees of aliveness. In order to understand, living structures--those resulting from living processes--there are various distinctions that can be made: living structures grow organically, to support living processes; living structures are not preplanned or brought into existence before its needed; and, living structures are composed of place-sourced living materials, themselves generated through living processes.

Living structure is an architectural concept developed in depth by Christopher Alexander that describes all living structure found in the Universe in a continuum with Human-built living structures.

Living infrastructure

The aim of Living Infrastructure, although well supported by RDA 8, by default takes the deepest dive into the regenerative paradigm. Translated into Human terms, our infrastructure should be living: should grow only in direct support of generation of genuine wealth and right livelihoods in communities; unfold slowly and be responsive to the potential of the present moment, allowing for community discernment; and, ought to be produced from place-sourced living materials regeneratively grown and/or harvested from local ecosystems (see RDA 2 and RDA 12). This ensures, that they can be continually growing organically, as needed and that when no longer needed. It also ensures that when living structures have served their useful life, the material can all be disassembled and re-used or composted.

Living infrastructure should exist to serve entire communities, not narrow interests, and therefore should be held in, cared for and governed by the community as part of the living commons. It should be an outgrowth of the larger ecological context of places and communities, and as such, transition gradually from most passive to most intensive Human activity at its core. Active buffers of regenerative agriculture and agroforestry as advocated by RDA 12, can serve to mediate between wild ecosystems and more intensified Human ecosystems.

Living infrastructure grows from place, is naturally beautiful, and can be artistically-crafted to further celebrate the unique essence (genius loci) of a place. Indeed, an added benefit of growing living infrastructure that is place-centric and place-sourced, is that it becomes valuable in distinguishing what is special about a place--serving as a natural attractant for visitors and travelers that may further supportive of local living economies that generate genuine wealth and right livelihoods. And, although no two places will be alike, living infrastructure in places with similar conditions can serve as patterns to guide degenerative development elsewhere.

Pattern generators

This aim could be generative of the following patterns in any Community of Place of any scale.

Note: SDG target linkages in brackets.

Ordering & Usage

Ordering Structures Usage Modes
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Resolution of Forces & Use Cases

Utilization & More


About Utilization Tab...

The Utilization tab shows which Processes--case study, story, journey, curriculum, research study, etc--this Pattern is applied in.

Interventions expressing RDA 9. Living infrastructure pattern:


About Process Tab...

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Patterns associated to RDA 9. Living infrastructure Process Pattern:


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Narrative elements created from RDA 9. Living infrastructure:


About Essence Tab...

The Essence tab allows for anyone in RKC to comment on what makes a pattern unique along three different dimensions:
   Aliveness: What energizes this being that really makes it come alive, beyond the functional of everyday existence.
   Offering: The unique value a pattern offers in order to bring a higher-order of viability and vitality to, or evolve a particular system they are working to transform (this is context specific).
   Potential: A tendency in a being that this pattern is continually striving to manifest into existence.
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