All posts by fanis.grammenos

Fanis is the founder and director of Urban Pattern Associates, a planning consultancy and research firm credited with the conception of the Fused Grid model. Fanis has a strong track record of focusing on user needs and the application of practical, innovative ideas to serve these needs. His focus grew stronger through his involvement in land development for several years. He conceived and co-authored a best-selling guide for passive solar design and a home owner’s manual. His research interests cover city and community planning, municipal planning regulations, land development policies, affordable housing, environmental planning and energy-conserving building techniques. He is a regular columnist for the Canadian Homebuilder magazine, a contributor to books and to planning journals, periodicals and web sites. He is a visiting lecturer at McGill University; has presented widely at national and international conferences; and has consulted with several Canadian municipal governments. He lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife and children.

Fused Grid Worlds – Mutual discovery


 Looking around I realized that there exist other inhabited Fused Grid worlds

Hello Simtropolis!

 Players of SimCity 4 discovered the Fused Grid and are using it to build efficient cities that, apparently, work well, when the points are counted.

 Take a look at their work, full of good ideas of how to use the Fused Grid model to build good cities. Even within the confines of a game with limited library of buildings and elements to populate the space, the screenshots, particularly this one, still give a fairly realistic picture of how a neighbourhood and a district would work….. until the first subdivison is build in Alberta and the first city is built in China.


Pattern Language Threads and Fabric design


Among Christopher Alexander’s patterns, some deal with the conflict between car and pedestrian movement. Pattern 49, proclaims looped streets as the most suitable type at the neighbourhood scale followed by connected cul-de-sacs. Pattern 50 asserts that the T-Junctions are the safest type. Pattern 51 sets forth the idea of pedestrian-only streets and pattern 52 recommends a distinct network for pedestrians “where possible”.


Alexander’s invaluable collection of patterns did not propose a diagram of how these would come together in a layout of a neighbourhood or district, as did Le Corbusier (Ville Radieuse), Ebenezard Howard (Garden Cities), Clarence Perry (Neighbourhood Unit), Doxiadis (Ekistics), Frank Lloyd  Wright (Broadacre City).  This lack of a model increases freedom for their application but, unfortunately, also limits their application to sporadic and separate rather than regular and unified. The need that makes these individual patterns so valuable, to codify solutions that work, would also make their assembly into modules of combined patterns valuable. The connected cul-de-sac pattern below incorporates all the above Pattern Language solutions in one repeatable 40 acre module, almost like a computer programmer’s “plug –in”. (for variations on this model  see the Quadrants page, Districts page or the Gallery)


New words for new layouts

Recently, I found a new, useful term that was introduced in the discussion about street networks: filtered permeability. Its author Steve Melia  explains: “It is the concept… that networks for walking and cycling should be more permeable than the road network for motor vehicles”


This new term helps place many known street patterns into a spectrum, from unfiltered to filtered permeability, by degree of exclusion. For example a steep, stepped, narrow street in an island village is only permeable to pedestrians and it excludes ALL other means of transport. Narrow streets in Old Fez city are permeable to pedestrians and animals  but impermeable to carts or cars. Some city streets, though in principle permeable to pedestrians have turned impermeable because of the dominance of cars. By contrast, a Highway is fully permeable to all motorized vehicles but not to bicycles or pedestrians (by decree).

For planning new neighbourhoods, this means we can consciously design a degree of permeability for each of the streets in a layout. See how this is accomplished here.

City Council gives the go ahead to a Fused Grid subdivision

40 acre (16 ha) portion of The New DevelopmentThe Fused Grid model for planning new neighbourhoods will soon be part of Calgary’s map. City Council approved unanimously the Saddleton (64 ha) development plan on April 14, 2008 with one Alderman saying “..he was pleased to see the Fused Grid concept come to fruition.” Since 2003, CMHC has researched, developed and promoted the Fused Grid option for laying out subdivisions for its many benefits for homebuyers, municipalities, developers and the environment.

This approval will please all those who were have worked hard to promote it and will add confidence to those who are considering its application. It is no longer simply a theoretical construct it is a neighbourhood plan heading for construction.