Ekistics concerns the science of human settlements, including regional, city, community planning and dwelling design. Its major incentive was the emergence of increasingly large and complex conurbations, tending even to a worldwide city. The study involves every kind of human settlement, with particular attention to geography, ecology, human psychology, anthropology, culture, politics, and occasionally aesthetics.
As a scientific mode of study, ekistics currently relies on statistics and description, organized in five ekistic elements or principles: nature, anthropos, society, shells, and networks. It is generally a more scientific field than urban planning, and has considerable overlap with some of the less restrained fields of architectural theory.
The term 'ekistics' was coined by Constantinos Apostolos Doxiadis in 1942. The word is derived from the Greek adjective οἰκιστικός more particularly from the neuter plural οἰκιστικά. 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 (oikistēs), 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 (oikisis), 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 (oikizō), to settle and were ultimately derived from the noun οἶκος (oikos), "house", "home" or "habitat".
The shorter Oxford English Dictionary contains a reference to an ecist, oekist or oikist, defining him as: "the founder of an ancient Greek ... colony". The English equivalent of oikistikē 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).
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 subjectable to 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".
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:
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.
- 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 – 7.5 billion
- Ecumenopolis – 50 billion
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).
International Journal of Ekistics and the New Habitat: the problems and science of human settlements, 1957 to 2006 (paper editions): 2007-2018, occasional scholarly books were published on Ekistics such as "Dangerous ideas in Planning" 2015. As of 2019, the new revised online journal formed its esteemed international Editorial Advisory Board and both updated the formal name of the journal to above, and began calling for papers on special issues, such as for a special issue on Turkey, and Urbanism.
Ekistics is also an academic periodical, overlapping the fields of human geography, environmental psychology, and the sciences of the built environment, published monthly by Athens Center of Ekistics, since 1957 until 2006
Ekistics and the United Nations "Habitat"
The formation of the World Society for Ekistics (WSE) represented a global inclusive concern for how the sum of human settlements were developing world wide. This concern covered how well settlements provided for human and ecological amenity, and how their structures and systems are impacting on the planet. The study of settlements from an Ekistic theory perspective includes how they have been transitioning with the emergence of high technology smart systems (eg. Smart Cities, Smart Citizens), and their impact on climate. This global knowledge base of researchers and practitioners, have been valued by the United Nations in their global agenda on Habitat.
Invited to UN Habitat III, Quito, Ecuador, October 2016, The Oceanic Group of the WSE, with headquarters in Melbourne Australia, Swinburne University of Technology, launched the development of the new online journal project of Ekistics. The WSE Oceanic Group were also invited to give a statement on Human Settlement matters to Habitat III. The WSE has maintained strong relationships with the UN with invitations to present and contribute at Habitat I (1976), Habitat II (1996), and its current program, UN Habitat III (2016+).
- Doxiadis, Konstantinos Ekistics 1968
- Ekistics Summary
- Caves, R. W. (2004). Encyclopedia of the City. Routledge. p. 215.
- Encyclopædia Britannica
- Ekistic Units
- City of the Future
- Athens Center of Ekistics on JSTOR
- Doxiadis, Konstantinos Ekistics 1968
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