I've spoken to a number of people about this topic, but I've never seen any definitive answers. So I'm going to try and find some of my own. For a student or architecture, permaculture, and ecology, it's important to understand just how much of an impact it's possible to sustain on this planet. Currently, I'm looking at the issue from an anthropocentric view point, though if anyone else can suggest another wider way of looking at it, go right ahead.
There are two main questions, I guess:
- How many people can the planet support?
- How many people can a City of a given size support?
- How much hinterland does it need?
- What is the relationship between increased density and food/goods transport, and the sustainability of the system?
These questions both hinge on another, more basic one: What resources does a human need to survive well?
Resources being food, water, air, clothing, shelter etc.
Human being of any gender/weight/metabolism (average).
"Survive well" being completely healthy, minimal stress, and having a decent amount of free time (and what a "decent" amount of free time is).
So that's my question set. My base requirements for data will soon follow. I don't think I need a hypothesis.
NOW would be a good time to point out any problems with these questions.
Note that I don not intend to apply these findings to any real life situation. That would be stupid. Real life situations deal with real people, not averages.