Ruban settlements can be conceived as 'infrastructurally autonomous cells existing within a web of nature, farms, transport, communication and informational interconnectivity.' Each of these cells should not have a radius larger than 500 metres - taken to be the optimal walking distance - with its density and use-mix determined by its location, environment and economic requirements. (The minimum density for a cell, however, is based on the size needed to support the local school population, which is the priority.) Energy-wise each cell is encouraged to be as autonomous as possible, by generating its own power, collecting and processing its own water supply and treating its own organic and inorganic waste. Socially every cell is provided with its own schools, health facilities, shops, workplaces, and basic services, all of which fall within walking distance. In this way Rubanisation ensures that every person or family is able to enjoy a high quality of life, with a choice of lifestyle, livelihood and location. Not everybody wants to live in the city, or necessarily in the countryside. At every stage of life, there should be viable choice; a no-choice situation is a crime against humanity.
These autonomous cells are then scattered in the landscape, accommodating geographical and environmental specificities. The boundaries of the cells are more or less circular to allow for the spaces between them to be farms, and this spacing would vary according to settlement densities and open land requirements. In every case, however, provisions are made for green spaces, farms, water bodies, etc. between the cells even when they are closely packed in dense urbanised settings, to allow fresh farm produce to be locally available. While specific modifications and adaptations will be made according to density requirements, 'the cellular nature of the settlement pattern remains the primary system of spatial organisation ensuring both efficiency and liveability,' and 'the old contestation between green and brown sites in urban planning dictated by economic imperatives is thus finally eliminated by this geometry.' Human settlements would then be interspersed between an interconnected green web of farms and natural areas throughout the world.
Rubanisation does not seek to eliminate the need for cities. Rather, it merely presents people with a viable alternative to the city as it presently is. Existing cities should be retained for five overarching functions:
- the highest level of medical research and treatment
- the highest level of academic research and teaching
- the highest level of finance and administration
- the highest level of entertainment and the arts
- the highest level of manufacturing
Modifications to existing cities can and will occur over time as the concept of distributed Rubanised settlements develops. Through the selective insertion of green spaces and water bodies into the existing dense urban fabric, over time, the green web will be established throughout.
Work, live, learn, play, farm
The impact of Rubanisation goes beyond poverty eradication, by bringing greater balance to working, living, learning, playing and farming within walkable distances. 'Children walk to school. Parents work nearby. Children know what their parents do. Parents are involved in their children's learning situations. Communities interact to imagine new ways to make life better and more secure. Everyone enjoys good clean organic food, know the farmers by name, know how the food is grown and adjust their diet according to seasonable crops.' The good life will be restored through real creative community action, fulfilling work, and stronger family ties.