The paper discusses a number of 'four-function' de sign paradigms, drawing attention to their isomorphic properties and holistic qualities which suggest general validity for application to the design process. The study proceeds with the assessment of the 'envi ronment' of an archetypal housing design and describes the subsequently developed paradigm. No extravagant claims are made for the operational quality of the model. But the lack of any generally accep ted paradigm leaves room for some optimism that such a mo del might ultimately be adopted. The conclusion drawn is that further practical appli cations will be necessary before applicability, at the urban scale, might become the norm.