Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Rough Sizes of Land around Adelaide

This is something I did a few years back. Simply looked around Development Plans and at the minimum block sizes permitted for housing, as well as looked through the UBD street directory and scaled off the sizes of various blocks of land. Doing so provides a rough guide to the maximum span and length of building around the metropolitan area: agricultural buildings may span further because they have larger blocks of land. Another issue is storm water drainage requirements and the maximum likely distance from one end of the site to the street storm water mains.

Table of Land Property Sizes Around Adelaide dimensions in metres.
Description Length Width Area
Residential 25 14 350
Residential (Traditional Town) 25 20 500
Residential 32 12.5 400
Residential (Court Yard) 32 14 448
Residential (Traditional ) 1 32 20 640
Residential (Traditional ) 2 40 20 800
Dump 50 50 2500
Lincoln College 60 60 3600
TAFE 80 70 5600
Parliament House 90 80 7200
Power Station (Torrens Island) 100 100 10000
Museum 110 60 6600
Art Gallery 120 40 4800
Bicentennial Conservatory 120 60 7200
State Library 120 70 8400
Museum 120 90 10800
Central Market 130 50 6500
St Aloysius College 130 100 13000
St Andrews Hospital 130 120 15600
Memorial Hospital 140 70 9800
Council Dump 140 80 11200
Calvary Hospital 140 130 18200
Festival Theatre 160 110 17600
Childrens Hospital 180 140 25200
Caravan Park 180 180 32400
Adelaide High School 200 110 22000
Oval 200 130 26000
Outer Harbour 200 0
Brickworks Market 260 200 52000
Adelaide Hospital 270 210 56700
National Motor Museum 280 200 56000
Modbury Hospital 300 200 60000
Adelaide Entertainment Centre 300 200 60000
Christies Beach High School 300 240 72000
Adelaide Oval Grounds 300 240 72000
Aerodrome Light Aircraft (Aldinga) 300 300 90000
Willaston Cemetry 300 300 90000
Parks Community Centre 340 340 115600
STA Workshops (Regency) 360 300 108000
Hindmarsh Island (Caravan Park) 360 300 108000
Rubbish Tip (Wingfield) (1 side) 360 300 108000
Birdwood Park (Tennis & Netball) 400 280 112000
Grey Hound Racing Club 400 340 136000
Mile End 420 360 151200
Fort Largs 440 340 149600
Ingle Farm Shopping Centre 440 360 158400
Heights High School 460 140 64400
Drive-In Theatre 460 340 156400
TAFE (Regency) 500 380 190000
Golden Grove Village 500 500 250000
Port Adelaide 500 0
Hampstead centre 520 360 187200
Speedway Park 520 520 270400
Lewiston Golf Course 530 530 280900
Adelaide University 540 500 270000
Ritirement Village 560 300 168000
Australian Submarine Corp 580 420 243600
West Lakes Mall 600 300 180000
EWS Noarlunga 600 580 348000
Cavan 600 0
Enfield Cemetry 680 480 326400
Mitsubishi Motors 700 440 308000
Marion Shopping Town 720 440 316800
Institute of Medical & Vetinary Science 740 300 222000
Golden Grove High School Facility 900 600 540000
Globe Derby Park 900 600 540000
Rifle Range 1000 400 400000
Victoria Park Racecourse 1000 420 420000
Royal Adelaide Golf Course 1000 800 800000
McCracken Country Club 1000 1000 1000000
Bolivar 1030 900 927000
Adelaide International Raceway 1100 520 572000
Hillcrest Hospital 1100 800 880000
Uni-SA (Levels) 1120 620 694400
West Terrace Cemetry 1200 1100 1320000
State Sports Park 1300 1260 1638000
Hope Valley Reservoir 1400 1400 1960000
Munitions Store 1500 1440 2160000
GMH (Elizabeth) 1540 1040 1601600
Waite Agricultural Research Institute 1600 800 1280000
Willunga 1700 1200 2040000
Port Stanvac Oil Refinery 1800 1700 3060000
Flinders University 1840 780 1435200
Labour Prison & Farm 2000 1100 2200000
Bolivar 3000 1720 5160000
Adelaide City North 3500 1800 6300000
Happy Valley Reservoir 3500 2040 7140000
Adelaide Airport 3500 2400 8400000
DSTO + Edinburgh Airbase 5000 5000 25000000
Adelaide CBD 5500 3180 17490000

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[13/01/2016] : Original

Monday, January 11, 2016

Future Cities: from Multi-Storey Buildings, to ships at sea

Whilst I may typically hold the view that multi-storey buildings are little more than:

"Concrete beehives filled with human drones, who are wired to the Matrix and assimilated to the Borg", 
I'm not entirely against such buildings.  However, my preference is for keeping humans mobile, and maximising the ability to adapt by use of small transportable dwellings.

Fundamentally as the Sun burns itself out, it burns hotter, so eventually our atmosphere will be boiled away and so will the oceans: and most life will be fried or boiled into non-existence. The biosphere building projects won't just be needed for researching the potential to support human life on another planet: the Earth itself will be that other planet, for the Earth of the future will not be the planet we know now {admittedly a few billion years from now}.

The building of the Building Research Establishment (UK) shows that we can make buildings large enough to contain other buildings: so geodesic domes over entire cities is not necessary.  Whilst Canada with tunnels and footbridges connecting its buildings so that can walk between them during the cold and snow of winter, also shows that we do not need to encase the city in a geodesic dome. Large geodesic domes typically being the traditional futuristic view: they may still be needed, agriculture will need to move inside: it will not be an option. The point is that there are more practical ways of enclosing space than construction of giant domes, and things that we can do now: compared to some futuristic construction of an Ark for the limited few. As for compatibility with being mobile: the vehicles of the future won't be the same as the vehicles of today: more ship, aircraft, spaceship than car.

Anycase, I expect in a city of multi-storey buildings, that the buildings are connected both internally and externally by bridges and footpaths. I expect minimum use of elevators and stairways. That the city is something of an artificial hillside and all buildings are structurally connected. That all residential dwellings have direct connection to an outside footpath: no climbing steps and no using elevators to get to ground floor. Outside will be accessible at all levels. No dwelling will be buried in the interior and dependent on artificial lighting. All dwellings will have natural lighting, natural ventilation, and access to outside footpath. A footpath that goes somewhere, not just a balcony.

The residential building should be relatively self-sufficient, and operate similar to a fully serviced hotel. There should be school, library, hospital, restaurant, offices and retail stores, with adequate car parking for residents and visitors, all contained in the one multi-storey building. Kids can walk to school, though in terms of existing buildings they can take the elevator.  {NB: a lot of city kids already don't know what cows and sheep look like, and have no idea of where their food comes from, so trapped in a single building isn't any greater deficit than they already experience. City folk are raised in an artificial environment and typically conditioned to function in and be dependent on such artificial environment.}

Such residential building can be something of a secured fortress, controlling who is and is not permitted into the building. Though such fortress may be more of a bad thing than a good thing. However combine the idea of residential hotel, with cruise ships, aircraft carriers, hospital ships and the factory fishing ships, and get the idea that all can be self-contained and kept mobile: as long as we have oceans any way. If people are content to live in the boxes of multi-storey buildings, and be locked to the dependency of the artificial environment of a city, then life on a residential hotel ship shouldn't be too objectionable. After all if the rich and famous spend their time touring the world or out and about on luxury yachts: then why not live on a ship full time. Ships are multi-storey structures.

Consider the problem of population growth in a city. The land has already been used up, but need more dwellings. It is therefore necessary to always have some buildings in reserve. For example in some location a 10 storey building is knocked down, and a 20 storey building is put in its place. People in a 10 storey building else where are relocated to the new 20 storey building, and the process repeated with their 10 storey building. To push the buildings higher to support larger and larger populations the footprints of the buildings need to also get larger: that therefore means the buildings need, at the very minimum, to become connected. Planning Regulations need  to control circulation space, and minimum width of corridors: and should be greater than currently set for inside buildings. Buildings are no longer simply enclosed spaces providing a protected environment isolated from the extremes of environment outside: buildings are becoming the artificial environment on which we are dependent. {Consider that there is a bacteria that lives in our guts, which apparently once lived in pools of acid on the surface of the earth. The environment we currently live in is not the original environment of the Earth: it is a polluted environment, polluted by that which we require to exist. We, humans, could be considered to be little more than the protective containment unit for that bacteria. Ultimately we also will require similar containment unit, if we rely on our cities we will become plants, if we make use of our vehicles we will retain the advantages of being animals.}

This dependency on the artificial environment of our buildings extends to an ever increasing demand for shade structures and covered walkways. Where kids once ran around in school playground and public playgrounds there are increasing demands to provide shade structures to protect from the sun and the possibility of skin cancer: as if everyone of prior generations died of skin cancer. {The Sun is not yet any where near as hot as it can burn.}

Buildings and other structures form the built environment, which forms an artificial environment which is meant to best suit our needs. My contention is that there should be more connectivity between the buildings which form the hub of a city. That this hub should then support a mobile population. The mobile population will either be in ocean going vessels, aircraft or land vehicles. That there should be many such hubs, networked across each continent, that these hubs should be no more than 400km apart in developed regions and no more than 10,000km across undeveloped regions. That the primary requirement for developing the continents is to get a network of such central hubs spanning each continent north and south, and east and west, and circumnavigating the coastlines.

As I see it, the problems of the world are not concerned with whether or not we have the resources to support the current world population but whether or not we have the political will, and the logistics to distribute the resources appropriately. Clearly population is not just shifting from rural communities into the big cities, making them bigger, population is crossing national boundaries to reach the preferred cities. Our world is not so much a world of nations but a world of controlling city-states, and outside the cities are the fringes and outland's. Unfortunately the mining and farming occur in the outland's and we are in danger of loosing people interested in mining and farming. People seem to be seeking office work and the lifestyle, especially the night life of the big cities: but all paper shuffling and entertainment is not good for our survival: someone has to produce the food.

Market gardens and greenhouses that were once close to the city centre have largely disappeared to remote places, and the land has been covered in housing. Good farming soil is buried under houses: not exactly a sensible way to go. However around the world there is this movement to bring small scale farming and industrial farming into the city. From backyard aquaculture to roof tops gardens, to entire multi-storey buildings operating as farm based on hydroponics and aquaculture.

Whilst my earliest ideas concerned fully integrated industrial city-states, where the pollutants  of one industry are piped directly as inputs to another, and the cities are 100km in diameter and set out on a 100km grid connected by high speed rail. My current ideas favour mobility, ships and floating cities. Ocean going vessels already have reasonably integrated systems, and are relatively self-sufficient. Rather than build massive vertical structures anchored to the earth and a whole heap of nonsense about them being hurricane and earthquake proof, I believe better to build massive horizontal floating structures.

One benefit of a floating structure, is that a new structure can be built whilst the existing is in use: no need to clear land and live else where whilst new building constructed.

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[11/01/2016] : Original

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Housing and Living Space

My basic premise is that multi-storey buildings are not necessary, more over that humans have legs and are meant to be mobile. Further more that multi-storey buildings are not a solution to urban sprawl they are the cause. Urban sprawl is a consequence of focusing all attention on one single centre, no matter how distant that location is. Multi-storey office blocks and retail stores require large hinterlands or catchment areas. If insist on putting roots down, rather than staying mobile, then smaller walk about villages separated by park lands or nature reserve would be better. As for  needing too much land: I disagree.

Assuming that the maximum sustainable human population of this planet is 10 billion people, and assuming that a city 100km in diameter can be home to 10 million people and no more, then 1000 cities are required to house the world population. Assuming that 2/3rd of the city area goes to infrastructure: then person would get a block of land 16m x 16m, and a 12m x 12m building could be put on that block of land. Further assuming 3m x 3m rooms, then such building would have 16 rooms. The basic room requirements are:
  1. Kitchen
  2. Bathroom & WC (they can be separate but wouldn't need more than a single 3m x 3m space)
  3. Laundry
  4. Dining
  5. Lounge
  6. Bedroom
  7. Garage
There is thus potential for additional 9 bedrooms, and therefore for significantly larger population in the space. The new metric handbook [Tutt and Adler] indicates  that some building regulations place a minimum of 25 sq.m for one person flat. Such can be achieved from a 5m x 5m building, given that 2.5m is potentially too small for a room especially once wall thickness taken into consideration, also given that building preference is multiples of 300mm, a 6m x 6m over all building would be preferable. Given such space it can be divided into 4 equal areas, and provide 1) kitchen, 2) combined laundry and bathroom, 3) combined lounge and dining 4) bedroom. Car parking or garage space would need to be additional. Thus land requirements can be reduced below 16m x 16m and with walk about villages forming the 100km diameter city: the city centre can be limited to cultural facilities, with business centred in the villages not centred in the city.

Consider the following sketches [dimensions are in millimetres]:

1 Acre as square area

Division of Acre into the Quarter Acre Block

Division of Acre into Sixth Acre Blocks

Typical Housing Block with 4 Bedroom House

Typical block with small Housing Units, no parking and walk about.
Extra Space added

More space Added

Typical Housing Block with 8 dwellings plus parking

Five Dwellings and Improved Access

6 Dwellings, improved parking and access

5 Dwelling with some parking for visitors

Dwellings replaced by 8 Caravans

7 Caravans with some visitor Parking

What the planning regulations are more likely to allow

The proposals above ignore the planning regulations, which impose minimum land areas for detached dwellings and for shared land. When planning regulations are imposed, only likely to be able to subdivide the typical housing block to provide for two dwellings.

My basic view is that housing in the vicinity of schools, hospitals and similar facilities should be high density, and rent only. People should move in and move out. For example, the elderly and sick need closest proximity to hospitals. Whilst students and young families need closest proximity to schools. By moving people in and out of these areas, it avoids the need to abandon such facilities and to develop new facilities. 

If the buildings providing such facilities are 4 storeys, then adjacent high density housing should also be 4 storeys and diminish in height to single storey in less than 1 km from the centre of such facility {average walking speed is 5km/h, therefore 1 km is about 12 minutes away}.

Planning should also support houses being moved in and out from a block of land, and provide for the blocks of land to have service modules which provide the utility services normally connected to a house. That is the use of caravans and motor homes should be integrated into the community. Population in an area shrinks and grows, and so do employment opportunities, people should not be enslaved or otherwise held prisoner to a specific block of land.

It should have been apparent during the early 1980's, that there is need to increase the mobility of the people, not mess around with mortgage rates. People in South Australia (SA) were going interstate to find work, but had mortgages on houses in SA they still needed to pay off, and they couldn't sell the house because no one wanted to move into a state with no employment. The way large employers are closing down, history is going to repeat itself.

We do not need multi-storey accommodation in Adelaide to prevent urban sprawl, rather we need to remove the need to go into Adelaide. Constructing a massive hospital in Adelaide is only benefit to politicians not to the people. The community was advertising just how far away medical services are, they needed and wanted local hospitals in the mining and farming towns.

We really need to develop the interior of the continent away from the coast line. The population needs to be mobile but have the comforts and conveniences of fixed dwellings. Development does not require construction of buildings, but construction of infrastructure that supports the functions of those buildings.

The above sketches illustrate that existing housing blocks can provide for more dwellings. Rather than construct a 4 bedroom home, 2 to 4 dwellings would be more flexible. The design problem is how to make the 4 dwellings function as 1 dwelling whilst kids are young, then function as 4 dwellings when the kids are older? How to have primary and secondary dwellings on the one block? This is going beyond the granny flat, as there are planning restrictions on the function of such building: there has to be dependency between the granny flat and the main dwelling: they cannot be two independent self-sufficient dwellings. That typically means there are restrictions on putting two dwellings with kitchen, bathrooms and laundry on the one block of land: one has to be dependent on the other for such facilities.

Subdivision of the land into separate properties is a different matter. My concern here is not having parents invest in large houses, providing large bedroom studies to support their kids in further education, then there being a future problem of finding their own affordable house. Whilst the parents otherwise need to downsize their house for retirement. Clearly the large family house only serves a temporary need: but its presence obstructs the provision of more affordable and suitable housing for both the young and old alike.

So somehow a single property, building or land, needs to be split into multiple private zones. The above sketches show individual dwellings, but a large dwelling could be divided internally. The latter concept being pushed a few years back and known as zoning. One of the zoning concepts is the idea of renting part of a large house out to others to pay for retirement. Another idea is that the kids buy the house from the parents, both still live in the house, but ownership shifts hands. One version of the latter idea is that the parents own the house, and they therefore provide the mortgage to the kids: a mortgage that the banks may not otherwise provide. Another version is that the kids have better jobs and more income, so they pay off the mortgage and take ownership of the property, and thus enable their parents to stay in the family home on retirement.

There are a multitude of possibilities: the main requirement is to get away from the idea that the Australian dream home is a quarter acre block. Its a stupid idea, its not as if people spend that much time in such houses any way. There is increase in people eating out, so large kitchens and dining rooms not really required. They spend more time at work, or on the road. So for the most part really only need a storage facility and somewhere to sleep.

Land ownership is also more problem than benefit. If the state/government wants to put a highway through your property then they typically can do so. There may be a dragged out court case, and compensation owing, but ultimately the highway is likely to go through: especially if that is what the public at large wants. If a nation is defined by geographical boundaries, then the land should remain in the ownership of the state. People should not be granted ownership of land, but rather granted license to occupy and use.

If at all possible the cost of land and buildings should be separated. Though I would go further and say that land should only be rented. If land rent goes up, then possibly a good idea to move or rent less land. Such would possibly encourage mobile homes, and keeping homes to sizes which can be transported without special permits. Better yet the increase in the widths of roads to accommodate wider loads without special permits. Broadloom carpet for example is about 3.6m wide, so rooms which are whole multiples of such dimension would have the less waste in the use of such material. Further more 3m to 3.6m width is a better width for a room than the approximately 2.4m width of a shipping container. So allowing a maximum of 300mm for wall thickness, would result in a minimum building width of 4.2m, then allowing 300mm clearance either side would result in a minimum road lane width of 4.8m or 9.6m for a road.

On the other hand transporting buildings is largely transporting empty space, so better to have something that can collapse for transport and expand for usage. A shipping container can be slit down the middle creating 1.2m wide segments. Single extension panels can then be placed either on the outside or the inside. On the outside the panels could be 1200mm wide whilst on the inside they could be limited to say 900mm. Therefore the building could be increased in width by an extra 1.8m to 2.4m: giving a building that is from 4.2 m to 4.8m in width.

Further more buildings don't need to be made from rigid materials, they could be made from light weight textiles. A large percentage of a building is just covered space, it needs some weather proofing, but it does need to be constructed to keep other people out for the purpose of securing contents. Even so walls can be made secure, and fabric roof placed over, if the walls are high enough then access via the roof would not be convenient for thieves to take advantage. But once again planning regulations have to permit fabric structures.

It should not be necessary for the whole of a building to be designed to resist earthquakes or hurricanes or any other extreme environmental event. To start with, the buildings designed to the codes will not resist: the designs can and most likely will be exceeded, and the buildings destroyed by earthquakes or hurricanes. It is better to design a building that collapses in a relatively safe manner: single storey buildings have better scope for fail-safe behaviour than multi-storey buildings. Multi-storey buildings are death traps, no matter what codes they are designed to. Light weight, soft textiles are less likely to cause severe injury on collapse than heavy rigid materials.

We need planning regulations that enable and empower the individual, but which prevent the creation of over crowed slums. If blocks of land are properly serviced, have boundary fences, and minimum clearances of the building envelope from the property boundaries then creation of slum areas is reduced.

A lot of the new large house developments are on the way to becoming slums, what with their near continuous roofscapes, and lack of circulation around the buildings. Building rules set minimum distances from property boundaries based on fire resistance levels. The South Australian development act, adds extra requirement of building either being on the boundary or 600mm away. The problem is that the 600mm seems to relate to the wall not the building envelope. So dumb building designers set wall 600mm from the fence, have 600mm eaves overhangs to the roof, and the 100mm to 150mm wide gutter over hanging the property boundary, encroaching on the neighbours property.

The purpose of the 600mm boundary clearance is access for removal of litter and vermin. Narrow gaps between buildings will trap litter, and attract vermin, and if the gap is too narrow access to clean up is prohibited. It should also be noted that the minimum width of an industrial platform is 600mm, and increasingly ladders are prohibited for use when working at heights. So to be able to clear gutters, paint eaves boards, need space to install portable scaffolding platforms. So the 600mm boundary clearance should be from the building envelope. The 600mm eaves concerns windows, and summer and winter sun: less than 60mm doesn't provide adequate shading. Therefore minimum wall clearance from boundary is 1200mm. So 900mm to meet minimum distance from fire source, not acceptable on its own for deciding boundary clearance.

Building on the boundary should not be acceptable. Fist two adjacent buildings built on separate properties have a gap between them, an inaccessible gap: a gap which breaches the intents behind the 600mm minimum boundary clearance. That gap maybe less  than a 1mm, but it is still a gap, now what can 1mm width of rain water 6m high do to the walls? Besides the dirt and grime, and water that can damage the building materials, there is a lack of circulation around the building for both people and air. Take note the English terraced house have ginnels and paths behind. These ginnels being deliberate tunnels passing through the row of terraced houses, with the second storey passing over the tunnel. Construction of such ginnels is not something that is likely to be built by private individuals building their houses to the property boundaries. Terraced houses were and are designed and built as a block of houses. So building houses to property boundaries should not be allowed.

Private detached dwellings should have a minimum of 600mm path circulating around the entire building. If do not have such circulation then the buildings should be attached. If attached then there is no open gap between the two dwellings, the roof will span such gap. It is also important that attached houses are constructed such that individual houses can be demolished without damage to the other houses. With well designed terraced houses individual houses can be demolished.

To be clear, neither multi-storey buildings or two storey buildings should be required. A walk about village can be designed and constructed using single storey dwellings only. Increased insulation requirements for energy efficiency also typically means improved insulation against noise. Smaller houses have less surface area and volume, and require less heating and cooling if insulated.

A dwelling suitable for one person is typically also equally suitable for two people. Average household occupancy in Australia is 2.8 persons. A large percentage of 3 bedroom houses are occupied by one person, only 5% of households are considered to have too few bedrooms when judged against some Canadian quality of life index. There is a shortage of suitable housing for school leavers, students, and retiree's. Basically properties for single's and couples, despite a recent article which suggests a shortage of 3 bedroom apartments. Any further construction of dwellings is going to push occupancy to 2 persons per dwelling. Real estate agents therefore need to get better at managing available living space with the needs of the population. Families need moving into homes near schools, single people need smaller homes closer to something else: work, entertainment.

I contend we have all the family homes we need, some may need extending, but no others need constructing. Further construction should focus on single storey sole occupancy dwellings: such dwellings are likely to have a bedroom and office: possibly described as two bedroom house. Such dwelling would be equally suitable for 2 people: a couple.

However the most important requirement here in South Australia is shifting focus away from Adelaide as a business district: cultural and administration district I have no problem with, such activities do not require regular transport to and from the city centre. Regular business commuters to and from a city is a waste of fuel. Mining, farming and manufacturing tend not to be in state capital city centres they are remote in suburbs. These areas need developing into more diverse business centres. City centres are typically office and retail, and there is no need for people to be travelling large distances for office work or retail. So cities are largely obsolete, it is only their cultural facilities that are of real importance. Further if a country is to be considered developed then the physical geography of the country should be developed not just isolated spots. Australia's interior is largely a barren undeveloped wasteland: if you get lost there don't expect anyone to find you, and don't expect to live long enough to be found.

Given a typical car can travel at least 400km on a single tank of fuel, I suggest there is need to at least construct a network of small outposts on a 400km grid: so that no matter where a person is in Australia that person is no more than 400km from some concept of civilisation. Each outpost to have at least one medical doctor and a small hospital, along with a fuel depot. All part of getting the population mobile and exploring the region. The big problem for Australia is getting water to these outposts. Which raises another issue, pipelines are not necessarily the best way of getting resources to an area: a pipeline has to be filled and that waste the particular resource. So for example transporting water by truck is potentially better than water by pipeline. Water by truck is not as convenient as water by pipe, but it wastes less water in the transport system: all the water can be used.

Australia is not the only place that needs to consider future land development: the world has problems with supply of housing, schools and hospitals. Rather than bulldoze slums, it would be better to impose some simple planning criteria, to improve circulation of air and people, and otherwise improve sanitation. Large houses are not really required. Large houses need to be cleaned and maintained, most people cannot afford servants, and they don't have the time to look after such houses. People are thus pursuing lifestyles of the rich and famous but can only partially support such lifestyle: its crazy.

Related Posts

[09/01/2016] : Original

Wednesday, January 06, 2016


{This is a from an earlier attempt at a journal back in 2003 (Voume 1; No:3), and was made available in pdf format on my personal web space now discontinued.. It has been available on scribd since 2011: MorfJV01003origin}

As a first estimate we will consider a simplified Pareto analysis. A Pareto model, suggests that we have two dependent variables, and that the majority of one is the cause of the minority in the other. Thus giving rise to names such as the: 80-20 rule or the 60-40 rule. A simple example of a Pareto model is that 80% of defects can be traced to 20% of all causes. Or that 80% of profits are derived from 20% of the products sold.

To apply this to engineering we make the assertion that:

80% of problems can be solved by applying 20% of our knowledge base.

Given that the typical 4 year Bachelor of engineering degree consists of at least 5 streams, one of which is general art and science subjects. We can conclude that each stream requires 9.6 calendar months, and if we conclude that only 1/4 of the general art and science stream is required for any of the other four streams, then we require an extra 2.4 calendar months for a self-contained study programme. That is a total of  12 calendar months for the entire study programme (eg. ¼ of the 4 year programme). Such a course can therefore be awarded an academic certificate, with the graduates becoming engineering technicians.

Level Years of Education % of Problems can Solve
Engineering Technicians 1 year (Cert)
Engineering Officers 2 year (Assoc. Dip.)
Engineering Technologists 3 year (B.Tech)
Engineers 4 year (B.Eng)
Éngineers 5 year (M.Eng)

In the above table I have made the assumption that each additional year of education permits the individual to solve 80% more of what is remaining. That is the Technician has a deficiency of 20%, the Officer can solve 80% of this 20%, resulting in an additional 16% of problems being capable of being solved. Resulting in the technologist being able to solve 80% of the remaining 4%, and so on.  Given this capability we would expect the work force to have the following distribution.

Level Years of Education % of Work Force
Engineering Technicians 1 year (Cert)
Engineering Officers 2 year (Assoc. Dip.)
Engineering Technologists 3 year (B.Tech)
Engineers 4 year (B.Eng)
Éngineers 5 year (M.Eng)

So the next question to consider is: Can we extend this concept backwards to account for no formal tertiary education, including no formal trade certificates? That is what capability does 2 years of additional schooling after 10 compulsory years of schooling count for? What value is the 10 years of schooling? What value is the first 5 years of schooling? And what value is the first 5 years of education in the hands of parents worth? Is our education system of any value?

Clearly by extending the concept backwards, the capabilities of individuals is going to be demonstrated to be increasingly deficient. So another question to ask is: Is the 80% capability at the 1 year Certificate level valid? Maybe 80% should be set for the 10 years of compulsory education? At this point however, I will stick with the certificate level. {Though I will indicate that I believe that grade 11 and grade 12 should be scrapped, and Trade and Tertiary education should start immediately after grade 10. Hence all the above mentioned levels will be completed with 2 years less education.}

To be able to extend the concept backwards we need a mathematical equation rather than a methodology. Attempting to extrapolate this concept backwards numerically results in the following curve. Which is not very useful, it suggests we all know nothing at the age of 17.

What we therefore want is an equation that has a value of zero for the proportion of knowledge at age zero, and increases from there forward. But which however, has an asymptote at 1, that is we never achieve 100% knowledge, we approach it, but never reach it. Further learning in the early years to be more slowly than in later years, once we have learnt to read, learning should become rapid, up until at point at which further increase in depth of knowledge becomes limited and vastly more difficult to achieve. The resultant formula as the following form:

Proportion of knowledge = 1-A.exp(-t.k)

Where ‘t’ is the time, and ‘A’ and ‘k’ are constants. To achieve results similar to our 80/20 rule the values of the constants are:

A = 1
k = c . tn
n = 4
c = 1.53789E-06

For those familiar with learning curves, maybe you could replace  the above with a more formal learning curve.

This results in the following table:

Age Level Years of Education % of Problems can Solve
15 School Leaver Compulsory Only
16 Engineering Technicians 1 year (Cert)
17 Engineering Officers 2 year (Assoc. Dip.)
18 Engineering Technologists 3 year (B.Tech)
19 Engineers 4 year (B.Eng)
20 Éngineers 5 year (M.Eng)

Thus revisiting our distribution of the workforce we now have:

Level Years of Education % of Work Force
School Leaver Compulsory Only
Engineering Technicians 1 year (Cert)
Engineering Officers 2 year (Assoc. Dip.)
Engineering Technologists 3 year (B.Tech)
Engineers 4 year (B.Eng)
Éngineers 5 year (M.Eng)

It should be noted that by my definitions, doctors, lawyers, politicians, architects, accountants, managers, are also technicians with increasing abilities. Everybody fits into the classifications. After all a surgeon is little different that a car mechanic, they just possess knowledge of a different system and have different tool kits. And more importantly neither is very good at diagnosing and fixing problems, leaving us with the adage that prevention is better than cure.

It should be noted that our new model now requires a greater proportion of the higher grades, compared with our original model. Hence whilst my original objective was to illustrate that the higher levels of education were a significant waste of global and community resources from an employment viewpoint, if you were to check national and state statistics, I have probably done the opposite. {Education as a matter of personal interest and curiosity is not being considered here. What we are considering here is the education required to sustain our technological systems, including society itself.}

To illustrate I will use some rather old statistics for South Australia extracted from the 1992 pocket yearbook for South Australia, and based on the 1986 census. I will leave it to readers to compare against up to date statistics.

Qualification % of Population (?) Grouping (%)
Not Stated

No Qualification

Other Certificate
Trade certificate

Bachelor Degree
Graduate Diploma
Higher Degree

Given that statistics at the time also indicate that 38.5% of population not in labour force, and that 5.7% of population were unemployed. Then it should be clear that if we adopt the model we have developed here, some incentive is required to push everybody higher up the educational hierarchy to remove unemployment.

However, it should be noted that the state statistics are not actually looking at education, they are looking at formal certification and recognition of learning. All attempts to improve our education system are actually focused on employment of teachers, they have little if anything to do with learning, education or qualification.

The disincentive towards higher levels of education are not actually disincentives to learning, rather most people have little desire to waste their time being told what they already know, and also in many circumstances, understand far better than the persons teaching. It is not education that is required but proper assessment and recognition of skills and knowledge held by individuals. That is we really need a national even international, independent examination board. Further more we need vastly improved quality assurance systems throughout all technological systems that form society. We need improved regulations and control systems.

The industrial revolution was built on the back of people learning to read and write, and then reaping the benefits of such abilities. The plans for one steam engine are published, and before you know it, steam engines are being built and experimented with throughout the country. Unfortunately whilst patents place inventions on public record they also stifle supply. Well, the extortionate demands of the owners of the patents stifle supply. In any case technology was not progressing as a consequence of special technical schools, it was developing as a consequence of individual interests, either for financial gain or just intellectual curiosity.

Engineering is stifled by universities and examinations. Engineering is about applying scientific knowledge to the development of new technologies. It is not about memorising facts and re-iterating them in examinations. It is of little value to society that one engineer can analyse a structure from first principles and do all the calculations in their head without need of computer, calculator, slide rule or log tables. Such intellectual capability is of no significance. In fact having the intellectual capacity to merely look at a building concept and know that it is not going to work, or even that it will work, is also of no value. For the community requires proof that the concept will work, before committing resources to its construction. Such proof is dependent upon communication and the level of the common intellect. The higher the common intellect, the simpler the proof’s need to be: that is you can leap ten steps in one bound and then go one step at a time. If the common intellect is low, then proof has to be presented one step at a time.

So we now have more books published than ever before, we also have the internet filled with electronic publications. Further more we also have access to computers and software that can perform all kinds of complex calculations, more importantly we can program these computers ourselves.

Thus whilst one person is wasting their time studying in a university and attempting to pass exams, another scholar can be reading a text book and programming a computer. The former graduates with a worthless scrap of paper (B.Eng) and proceeds to look for employment, the other graduates with a fully operational computer program that is sold to an increasing market place.

To close this issue: Engineering is about the application of science to develop technology. Either you have an interest in creating new technologies or you don’t. If you don’t have such interest then all an higher education will do is make you an higher level technician, it won’t make you an engineer. My model above is based on real engineers, not an educated elite. If the upper levels are merely an educated elite with no imagination, no ingenuity then educating them to that level of knowledge is of no value. It is the non-conformists, that we need to encourage to the higher levels. Truth is not reached by agreeing with examiners: that the earth is flat and at the centre of universe. It is reached by a failure to understand and comprehend the models presented, and a desire and interest in seeking a better understanding of reality: not a better understanding of the models.

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