Fractal-Emergent Settlement Architecture (FESA)


Fractal Emergent Settlement Architecture (FESA) is a settlement system architecture plan developed by Nicholas A. Carlough for based upon a single structural module (Cell) with nearly infinite scale-ability designed as a shell for the propagation of soil based closed socio-ecological life support system (SELSS). FESA expands along a fractal pattern using a standardized construction modules and layout, minimizing diversity of necessary manufacturing and maintenance infrastructure.

Mars Ecumenopolis

Mars Ecumenopolis (FESA 15) – Population 78 billion *to scale

A SELSS is essentially a garden within which a human population can sustain itself indefinitely as an integrated function of its host ecological complexity. A SELSS is not just a home for humans supported by ecological systems (Closed Ecological Life Support system CELSS), but a home for a whole Gaian system within which the day today life of its human inhabitants is fully integrated with the ecological system itself, an organism in its own right. The fractal nature of the FESA combined with SELSS ensures a uniform environment within which Gaian ecology can grow and evolve over time. By this method, a FESA can theoretically span an entire planetary surface and thrive doing so.

Structure and Function

Below is a high-level description of the various system components that emerge from the fractal expansion of the FESA settlement system, using our methodology.


The cell is the base unit with which all unit scales of the FESA system are constructed.

Untitled drawing


Astro-ekistic Units of FESA

FESA Infographic

The Astro-ekistic units (AEU) of FESA are adapted from the ekistic units as described by Constantinos Apostolou Doxiadis, the original formalizer of the scientific study of human settlement known as ekistics. The AEU of FESA are divided into two subgroups fundamental AEU and Major AEU. Fundamental AEU contain the building blocks of FESA where each scale describes different levels of functionality, where as major AEU are simply fractal conglomerates of the largest fundamental AEU. The differences in functionality emerge as the open spaces that provide for different sized transparent covered spaces between the fractal arrangements of the fundamental AEU and are described below.

Anatomy of a Village Infographic

The “Village” (FESA4) is the largest of the fundamental FESA Astro-ekistic Units, all major units (E,g. Town, Polis, Metropolis) are simply conglomerations of FESA4


Fundamental AEU

Population Density: 1538 – 965 / km2


Major AEU

Population Density: 965 / km^2


Transparent Covered Space & Utility Structures (TCS & US)

The open spaces between the fractal pattern of the FESA units are the largest continuously open spaces within the FESA system. They are covered with transparent roofing and used for various utility and recreational purposes.

Tablinum (TCS-1)


Named for the tablinum of the ancient Roman family home(Domus). The Tablinum is an empty space the size of one module available for personal use. It is located in the center of each Anthropos (FESA-1), and provides a private space available for personal artistic expression, relaxation, and seclusion as necessary. There is one Tablinum space for every Anthropos thus ensuring that private space scales with the carrying capacity of the FESA system

Impluvium & Hydria (TCS-2 & US-2)


The Impluvium is named for its primary function, the storage, and distribution of water for each house (FESA-2). The aesthetic of each Impluvium space might very, however, their function remains the same, it acts as a local meeting space that allows for the broadest possible access to water that is condensed out of the air by the Hydria structure(US-2) which is housed in a single module centered in the Impluvium space.

Atrium and Stoa (TCS-3 & US-3)


Each band (FESA-3) encircles a naturally lit Atrium space and Stoa which functions as a community meeting space and for distribution preparation and storage of food.

Balaneion and Hypocaust (TCS-4 & US-4)


The largest naturally lit space is called the Balaneion and in the center is the hypocaust they get their names from ancient Roman bathhouses and the system by which they were heated. This space is the primary recreational space for each Village (FESA-4) and is the largest standard open space within the FESA system.

The Balaneion contains such facility’s as are necessary for large public meetings, relaxation, recreation and physical fitness, within the Hypocaust(US-4) is contained steam rooms, bathing facilities and such equipment as is necessary for central power and heat distribution to the surrounding bands.

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