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Ekistic units

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Ekistic units

The term Ekistics (coined by Konstantinos Apostolos Doxiadis in 1942) applies to the science of human settlements.[1][2] It includes regional, city, community planning and dwelling design. It involves the study of all kinds of human settlements, with a view to geography and ecology — the physical environment — and human psychology and anthropology, and cultural, political, and occasionally aesthetics. As a scientific mode of study is currently found to rely on statistics and description, organized in five ekistic elements: nature, anthropos, society, shells, and networks. It is generally a more academic field than "urban planning", and has considerable overlap with some of the less restrained fields of architectural theory.

In application, conclusions are drawn aimed at achieving harmony between the inhabitants of a settlement and their physical and socio-cultural environments.[3]


In terms of outdoor recreation, the term ekistic relationship is used to describe one's relationship with the natural world and how they view the resources with in it.

The notion of ekistics implies that understanding the interaction between and within human groups—infrastructure, agriculture, shelter, function (job) -- in conjunction with their environment directly affects their well-being (individual and collective). The subject begins to elucidate the ways in which collective settlements form and how they inter-relate. By doing so, humans begin to understand how they 'fit' into a species, i.e. homo sapiens, and how homo sapiens 'should' be living in order to manifest our potential—at least as far as this species is concerned (as the text stands now). Ekistics in some cases argues that in order for human settlements to expand efficiently and economically we must reorganize the way in which the villages, towns, cities, metropoli are formed.

As Doxiadis put it “Ekistics is a science, even if in our times it is usually considered a technology and an art, without the foundations of a science. This is a mistake for which we pay very heavily.” Having recorded very successfully the destructions of the ekistic wealth in Greece during WWII, Doxiadis became convinced that human settlements are susceptible of systematic investigation. Doxiadis being aware of the unifying power of systems thinking and particularly of the biological and evolutionary reference models as used by many famous biologists-philosophers of his generation, especially Sir Julian Huxley (1887–1975), Theodosius Dobzhansky (1900–75), Dennis Gabor (1900–79), René Dubos (1901–82), George G. Simpson (1902–84), and Conrad Waddington (1905–75), used the biological model to describe the "Ekistic behavior" of Anthropos (the five principles) and the evolutionary model to explain the morphogenesis of human settlements (the eleven forces, the hierarchical structure of human settlements, dynapolis, ecumenopolis). Finally, he formulated a general theory which considers human settlements as living organisms capable of evolution, an evolution that might be guided by Man using "Ekistic knowledge".


Ekistics is derived from the Greek adjective οἰκιστικός more particularly from the neuter plural οἰκιστικά (as physics is derived from φυσικά, Aristotle). The ancient Greek adjective οἰκιστικός meant: "concerning the foundation of a house, a habitation, a city or colony; contributing to the settling." It was derived from οἰκιστής, an ancient Greek noun meaning "the person who installs settlers in place". This may be regarded as deriving indirectly from another ancient Greek noun, οἴκισις, meaning "building", "housing", "habitation", and especially "establishment of a colony, a settlement , or a town" (already in Plato), or "filling with new settlers", settling", "being settled". All these words grew from the verb οἰκίζω, to settle and were ultimately derived from the noun οἶκος, "house", "home" or "habitat.

The shorter Oxford English Dictionary contains a reference to an oecist, oekist or oikist, defining him as: "the founder of an ancient Greek ... colony". The English equivalent of oikistikh is ekistics (a noun). In addition, the adjectives ekistic and ekistical, the adverb ekistically, and the noun ekistician are now also in current use. The French equivalent is ékistique, the German oekistik, the Italian echistica (all feminine).

Ekistic units

Doxiadis believed that the conclusion from biological and social experience was clear: to avoid chaos we must organize our system of life from Anthropos (individual) to Ecumenopolis (global city) in hierarchical levels, represented by human settlements. So he articulated a general hierarchical scale with fifteen levels of Ekistic Units:[1][4]

Names of Units and Population Scale (final version, from C.A.Doxiadis' last book, ACTION for Human Settlements, p. 186, Athens Center of Ekistics, 1976): Note: The population figures below are for Doxiadis' ideal future ekistic units for the year 2100 at which time he estimated (in 1968) that Earth would achieve zero population growth at a population of 50,000,000,000 with human civilization being powered by fusion energy.[1][5]

  • Anthropos – 1
  • room – 2
  • house – 5
  • housegroup (hamlet) – 40
  • small neighborhood (village) – 250
  • neighborhood – 1,500
  • small polis (town) – 10,000
  • polis (city) – 75,000
  • small metropolis – 500,000
  • metropolis – 4 million
  • small megalopolis – 25 million
  • megalopolis – 150 million
  • small eperopolis – 750 million
  • eperopolis – 7,500 million
  • Ecumenopolis – 50,000 million

In comparison the United Nations population estimate, for the year 2100, at a constant growth rate, Uganda would form a small eperopolis, with a population of about 1 billion people, in an area of about 250,000 km² (4600 people/km², comparable to greater Tokyo today).

Details of the study of human settlement

One of the primary tenets of Ekistics is the development of human settlements based on hexagonal infrastructures. Rectilinear urban planning is shown to fail miserably in the ability to efficiently handle the various zones (residential, commercial, and industrial) in ways that support people that are collectively and demonstrably well and fit (integrated and balanced spirit, mind, and body). That the horrendus traffic in such places as Washington, DC and Los Angeles exist as a result of this type of 'methodology', or more aptly phrased a lack of foresight and control in urban design, is testament to the inability of rectilinear planning to adequately provide the means to effectively handle the growth of metropolitan settlements. Noded and hierarchical hexagons (think of a structured bi-directional tree, or map, in computer science, a more geometric neural network, or the refinement (not the Baroque adornment) of the Academie des beaux-arts d'architecture evolved into a hexagonal infrastructure), or weighted hexagons and connected based on their proximity (think of a circulatory system), relative importance to the central function of the settlement, e.g. a commercial center or an industrial sector, or 'neural center' (if you will), and flow of human bodies or material resources, not only provides for free-flowing circulation, but enables the expansion and promotion of hexagonal sectors to higher weights of arrangement as the settlements increases in population and/or importance. It is important to remember though that the ekistical planning and development of human settlements based on such a scientific approach need not be considered a conversion into a collective machine. Rather, Ekistics provides the means by which individual settlements based on their ethnic background and geographic location to incorporate their heritage while arranging it in a manner that supports their collective intent. Literally, much of the wasted time and resources can be significantly reduced so that the duty of the individual can be smoothly performed in order to allow ample time for the creative quality-of-life (story-telling, the arts - martial, applied, and fine -, cultivation of one's relationship with nature, relaxation time, and conversation, etc.), to emerge by means of the interpersonal relationships within and between settlement(s). Essentially, the structure of Ekistics enables humans to synergize their cultural heritage with technological evolution.


Ekistics is a book by Konstantinos Doxiadis, published 1968. (often titled "Introduction to Ekistics" ISBN 0-09-080300-0)

Ekistics is also an academic periodical, overlaping the fields of human geography, environmental psychology, and the sciences of the built environment, published monthly from Greece since the mid-1960s, in English.

See also


Further reading

  • Doxiadis, Konstantinos Ekistics 1968

External links

  • World Society for Ekistics
  • Ekistics Summary
  • Ekistics, Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 11 Nov 2006
  • Ekistic Units
  • City of the Future

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