Environmental systems design
Environmental systems design

Among the most important features of “Cadaster” Institute is orientation at creative introduction of the results of research work in the field of sustainable development and in practices of efficient natural resource use and environment protection. It is no mere chance, as socio-cultural methodology of environmental management, developed by us, to a great extent represents a general theory of applied research and design developments on logical implementation of a holistic approach to the system “Man-Society-Nature” on the basis of the unity of contemporary scientific knowledge and humanistic value-ideological purposes.

Development values always — explicitly or not, to a greater or lesser extent — are present in motivation of environmental designing. Ontological and socio-cultural conditionality is their most important feature. It is worthwhile mentioning that the Global Concept of Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was initially introduced at the UN Summit on sustainable development “Rio+20” in 2012. SDG envisage an approach when all three aspects of sustainable development — social, economic and environmental are integrated. Environmental values are included in the systems of values[1]. Guided by environmental values, designers, from one hand, identify target priorities of planned changes and ways for reaching them on the basis of available engineering knowledge, on the other hand they limit their decisions by socio-cultural range of selection of acceptable options.

We also proceed from the assumption that the theory of sustainable development is aimed at future and envisages maintaining of favorable conditions in biosphere, increasing responsibility of people for their deeds in relation to nature — widening the scope of the use of categories of good and evil. Therefore, for rational environmental activity categorical imperative of E. Kant “Act as if you always belong to humanity in your own personality and in the personality of any other human being similar to a purpose, and never treat him only as a mean” [2] is still valid.

It determines description of future events in the category of prescriptions and setting principally new methodological problems of designing environmental activities[3] (in a wider sense) on the basis of special target oriented synthesis of natural, humanitarian and technical knowledge. At the same time, the role of environmental ethics increases, that according to H. Ionas, should gradually become “ethics aimed at the future” (Zukunftethik): at present, foresight, extent of responsibility (befor the future mankind) and the depth of ideas (all future essence of a man) and serious mastering of technics are necessary..." [4].

As it was rightly mentioned by the outstanding contemporary scientist P.G. Kuznetsov [5], two interconnected processes: (1) logic of thinking (research) — from “nature to idea”; (2) logic of designing — from “an idea to nature”, similar to creative work, are interlaced in a unified process of designing of the future state of the system “Nature-Society-Man” [6] Synthesis of those logics is necessary for designing sustainable development on the basis of the law of the development of Life[7].

Environmental systemic designing realizing ability of a Man to creativity in conditions of global environmental risks and a priori incomplete available knowledge expresses occupational shift of ethic relations within the system “Man-Society-Nature” towards finding of a better combination of autonomy of mind with self-sufficing dignity of nature. From our point of view, it is not possible without humanization of environmental activities, and the process of designing the development of anthropo-natural geosystems should include value component and take into account socio-cultural context[8].

In condition of growing risk factors of human development the importance of humanistic ideas in theory and in practice significantly increases. One of promising directions developed by “Cadaster” institute can serve as an example. It was called “Town for women and children” that identifies and formulates socio-environmental problems of urbanized areas in a new way[9]. The basis of such humanistic conceptual approach consists in creation of comfortable human-friendly urban environment with special focus on interests of less protected social groups with which future is connected — children and women with children. Relevant methods of urban and settlement spatial planning focus their attention on proving children and youth sufficient opportunities for games in order to ensure free development of personality. In the course of a game they cognize social and material world, learn to understand and change it. Owing to games they perceive their abilities. Therefore, planting of streets, organization of comfortable yards and playing grounds attain new meaning.

Such approach has deep historical roots — in early 1930-ies Marta Muchov noted in her study in Germany devoted to Hamburg that in the living space of a child the street is the closest object for his childish perception. Her work “Living Space of a Child in a Big City” [10] could be considered as innovative even today. She was the first to introduce a notion of “a space for playing and wondering of children”. She had to stop her studies in 1933 as they did not correspond any longer to masculine picture of that time, town and society of the following period of time. Today street space has changed in the majority of towns and cities and possibilities for children to play are rather limited. Space that initially belonged to children is occupied by vehicles. On the other hand, possibilities for games in specially allocated places, isolated form a street, increased. It seems that for those who is involved in road and urban planning, children as street and sidewalks users became uncommon.

A Tree — as a part of Nature and Symbol — in the case of humanistic approach to urban planning gets special value due to its green, game of light and shade. Trees bring strong emotional component to landscape that touches a soul and attains peculiarity, attractiveness and comfort to a space. Urban trees also play irreplaceable environmental functions (carbon sink, decrease of gas concentrations in the air, prevention of dust penetration into residential rooms, decrease of noise level, etc.), improve heat regime in the streets of a town and in houses (decrease of air temperature during hot season and decrease of heat radiation during cold season). Therefore, conservation and increase of their number is an important task in the course of the process of creation of humane image of a town and its sustainable development.

The idea of humanization of the processes of urban environmental development is reflected in new images and myths. Thus, globally popular performance of the great German classic-postmodernist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986)[11] was devoted to the victory of Life. Starting from the town of Kassel (Germany) from the town theater[12] he started to plant oaks installing a stone Stella near every tree[13]. He dreamt of realizing such action in all towns as far as Russia, symbolizing victory of Life over Death. Perhaps, his personal motives as a former military pilot, downed over the Soviet territory, burnt and returned to life by miracle, found reflection in that initiative. Organization of tree planting was leaded by the landscape architect, head of the department of greenery of Kassel H.J. Taurit. According to him, Bois wanted to show that while a tree is still young, it is protected by the lifeless nature, and small sprout seems weak and unprotected. But then, when a tree as a living symbol grows its role changes and the stone near the trunk seems unimportant in terms of preservation and development of Life ...

Today 7000 oak trees of Kassel — world famous work of post-modernism by Joseph Beuys. He did not draw trees, as artists of the past, he possessed new, active, live art. Planning a project, Joseph Beuys thought that it would be only the beginning — the project would be picked up in other towns and countries and planting of trees would not be interrupted. To a certain extent Beuys succeeded in it: his project, though at a smaller scale, was repeated in the USA, Ireland, Finland, Canada. Not everywhere oaks are planted. In some towns they are replaced by other species of trees. Thus, in Yaroslavl in the end of 90-ies first trees “according to Beuys” were planted in the “Park of Friendship” under the leadership of H.J. Taurit. Every tree as a symbol of sister-cities was accompanied by a stone. We are proud that we managed to keep up the initiative of H.J. Taurit on realizing the dream of J. Beuys in Russia[14]. Similar plantings — trees and stones — can be found in the public park of Sortavala (Republic of Karelia).

The above principles allow to take a new look on practices of urban planning and to propose new decisions for improving space for games of children in town. Undoubtedly, the development concept “Town for women and children” could not be immediately realized. At the same time, steps for realizing such approach oriented at sustainable development are possible, as they are relatively low cost ones and have good social and environmental effect. Practices of development and implementation of such programmes shows that such measures allow to mitigate consequences of economic crisis for less protected population groups — women and children, to make a town more attractive for life that at present moment.

At present, in the course of designing of the future it is particularly important to take into account socio-cultural context. As it was already noted by Huntington, in the XXI century “... differences, interactions and conflicts among cultures moved to the foreground”. It became so evident that practically everybody “turns to culture as the central factor explaining human, social and political behavior” (2003)[15]. Designer (in a wide sense of this word) implementing sustainable development approaches in his transforming intentions, should preliminarily assess environmental and social results of his actions, and incases when negative consequences prevail, even in uncertain cases, diverge from his technical idea. Position of one of the greatest geographers of the ХХ-s century, Gilbert White is consonant with that idea. He clearly formulated it in the following way: “...I clearly feel that I should not start a research if it does not promise results, that allow to move to objectives that move people, and till I am not ready to make all practical steps to turn result to action” [16]. In other words, designers should not develop such technical decisions introduction of which causes degradation of nature or increase of poverty of population, otherwise such technologies turns to be “unsustainable”.

Interdisciplinary integrated environmental-socio-economic approach to systemic designing of natural-anthropogenic complexes on sustainable basis, that is used, envisages not only relevant organization, but also priority application of methodological developments in the field of systemic engineering. At present it is increasingly used in the course of the designing complex, innovation systems envisaging increased attention to organization of interdisciplinary interaction, as people with different type of thinking and different professional specialization hardly understand each other. Of no less importance is the development of requirements to designed state of natural-anthropogenic complexes with the account of sustainable development approaches, as in case the requirements are inadequate, all other efforts, processes and instruments can only help to create a bad product as soon as possible: you reap what you saw. Modern GIS-technologies and methods of special integrated modelling create new possibilities for realizing such tasks and allow to significantly raise the quality of managerial decisions in turns of increasing capital of territorial sustainability.

The experience of institute “Cadaster” showed that up to 80% of mistakes that cause low quality of final product (the project of natural-anthropogenic complex, programmes of territorial development, etc.) form already at the stage of formation of terms of reference (TR). Therefore, application of sustainable development approaches that envisage accounting of economic, social and environmental consequences of engineering decisions already at the stage of identification of initial parameters of designing should be considered as the most important component of system engineering in the field of rational natural resource use environment protection; and the synthesis of approaches to sustainable development and system engineering in natural resource use — the most important scientific-applied task of state importance.

In general, TR on a project of natural-anthropogenic complex, design project of land-use and natural resource use, programme of environmental territorial development under preparation should contain clear description of the aim of designed object, the list of functions implemented by it along with a list of relevant requirements for it. Compilation of TR — the most complicated and important task: numerous data is not yet known, but the way in which the task would be formulated might ease or hamper subsequent designing.

It is dangerous to underestimate risks of information support. Thus, it is necessary to take into account the words of Li Yakokka: “... the problem is that .... you have 95% of information and in order to get missing 5% you need extra six months. During that time all facts would become outdated because the market develops much faster. The most important thing in life — to do everything on time. ... the main task is to collect all important facts and opinions that are available. But, at a certain moment of time you need to start to act strongly. First of all, this connected with the fact that even the most correct decision turns out to be wrong if it is made too late. Secondly, because in the majority of cases there might not be full confidence. You will never be able to collect 100% of information. Unfortunately, life will not wait till you assess al possible mistakes and losses. Sometimes, it is necessary to move forward on spec and correct mistakes on the move” [17].

To implement such an approach in designing is only possible if special training of engineers is ensured, that have to keep in mind that: (1) issues of technological development of the society and environment are inseparable and should be addressed jointly, as well as, (2) that the decisions are to be made in conditions of a priori incomplete information. Yet, it does not prevent from obligations on minimizing environmental risks.

Achievement of “Cadaster” Institute — experiences highly qualified staff members capable of addressing such systemic issues of increased complexity within tight schedule and in conditions of uncertainty. Wide application of computing techniques, forecasting with the use of mathematical models, connection to international metadata bases allows to significantly reduce risks of incorrect decisions and speed up the process of designing.

Namely availability of specialists with unique experience and knowledge, possibility for and practical experience in network attraction to addressing specific issues the best highly qualified Russian and foreign experts allowed to successfully apply systemic-activity approach as a synthesis of approaches to sustainable development, socio-cultural methodology of natural resource use and methods of systemic engineering in natural resource use and environment protection in the course of the development of projects on natural resource use and environment protection at regional and local levels, regional schemes of hunting arrangements, plans for the development of specially protected natural areas (SPNA), projects of sanitary-protective zones of industrial enterprises and industrial centres with the use of methodology of risk assessment, projects of zones of sanitary protection of sources of water supply, etc. Documents under development are always aimed at effective coordination within unified system of measures of legal regulation aimed at economic incentives for environmentally oriented green growth, and practical measures on improving the state of the environment and organization of monitoring.

The main directions of environmental systemic designing of “Cadaster” Institute:

The system of values means a group of associated values that form unified system and strengthen each other. They are assigned in religions or traditions of humanism.
Kant Е. The Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals // Compositions in six volumes. М.: «Idea». Т. 4. Р. I. Р. 211-310; Kant Е. Criticism of practical reason: transl. from Germ. St. Petersburg: Science, 1995. 528 p
There are numerous definitions of the term “designing”; the most common one refers to practical activity aimed at satisfying new needs of people. The word “project” is also used for the meaning of a “programme”, “action plan” (author).
Ionas. Principle of responsibility. Experience of ethics for a technological civilization / transl. from Germ., preface, notes I.I. Mahankov. М.: Airis-press, 2004. 
P.G. Kuznetsov, doctor of sciences. From 1977, he was the chief designer of the Supreme Commander in Chief (on special period).
Creative work is considered today mainly as goal oriented process of activity that create qualitatively new material and spiritual values or the result of creation of objectively new (author.).
Citation of: Bolshakov B.E., Kuznetsov O.L. P.G. Kuznetsov and a problem of a sustainable development of Mankind in system the nature-society-person. M. - Dubna, 2002.
Humanism (latin - humanitas – “humanity”, humanus – “humane”, homo – “man”) – ethical life concept, proving that human beings have the right and obligation to identify sense and form of their life. Humanity calls for creation of a more human society through ethics (including environmental ones – author), based on human and other values in the spirit of mind and free search owing to the use of human abilities. URL: http://iheu.org/humanism/what-is-humanism/
Taurit H.Yu., Fomenko M. A. “Town for women and children” – new approach to planning of a sustainable development of city settlements // Management of environmental management for a sustainable development. Yaroslavl: RPC «Cadaster», 1998. – P. 93-106.
Muchow Marta, Muchow Hans-Jurgen: Der Lebensraum des Grossstadtkindes, 2. Aufl. Bensheim 1980.
Accoring to J. Beuys, jn May 19, 1933 (i.e. in the period of time when the Nazi party start to hold mass actions on burning banned literature) he saved the book by Karl Linney “The System of Nature” in the courtyard of his school “… from that big burning heap”.
The town of Kassel – twin city of Yaroslavl.
During international art-exhibition “Document” in Kassel (1982): big heap of basalt blocks placed in front of the building of the museum was gradually removes along with planting of trees (Rosenthal M. Joseph Beuys: Actions, Vitrines, Environments. L.: Tate, 2005).
Target programme “Green Danilov – town for women and children”. Action Plan of administration of Danilov municipal district on rational natural resource use and environment protection for 1997-1998. / H.Yu. Taurit, G.А. Fomenko, М.А. Fomenko, etc. Yaroslavl: RPC «Cadaster», 1997; Suggestions for improvement of a social and ecological situation in the settlement of Prechistoye of the Yaroslavl region (The offer with application of new approaches to planning of inhabited space) / H.-Yu. Taurit, G. A. Fomenko, M. A. Fomenko, etc. Yaroslavl: RPC «Cadaster», 1999.
Huntington S. The Clash of Civilizations. M .: OOO "AST Publishing", 2003. 603 p.
White G. Geography, resources and environment. M .: Progress, 1990.
Lee Yakokka Manager career. M.: Progress, 1991.