Fractal-Emergent Settlement Architecture (FESA)


Fractal Emergent Settlement Architecture (FESA) is a settlement system architecture plan developed by Nicholas A. Carlough. FESA is 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 complex ecological 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 ecological complexity 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. The cell is scaled to be able to contain 1/6th the ecosystem area necessary to support one humans environmental needs.

Ekistic Units of FESA

FESA Infographic.jpg

The Ekistic units 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 ekistic units of FESA are divided into two subgroups fundamental ekistic units and Major ekistic units. Fundamental ekistic units contain the building blocks of FESA where each scale describes different levels of functionality, where as major ekistic units are simply fractal conglomerates of the largest fundamental ekistic units. The differences in functionality between fundamental units is a function of increasingly large spaces that emerge between the fractal scaling pattern of the FESA as described below.

Anatomy of a Village Infographic

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

Fundamental ekistic units

Population Density: 1538 – 965 / km2

Major ekistic units

Population Density: 965 / km^2

Recreation and Utility zones



Named for the tablinum of the ancient Roman family home(Domus). The Tablinum is an empty space the size of one cell 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 zone thus ensuring that private space scales with the carrying capacity of the FESA system

Impluvium & Hydria


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 which is housed in a single module centered in the Impluvium space.

Atrium and Stoa


Each band (FESA-3) encircles a continuous Atrium space and Stoa which functions as a community meeting space and for distribution preparation and storage of food as well as farming and waste management.

Balaneion and Hypocaust


The largest open space in a FESA 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 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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