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Thread: The Case For Large Buildings

  1. #1
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    The Case For Large Buildings

    My plan advocates the use of large buildings so I thought I would offer a few thoughts on why I believe them to be preferable over other forms of architecture. The reasons are many and varied, both economical and ecological as well as sociological.

    First, let's consider some of the inherent inefficiencies of our current urban/suburban model. A typical city usually consists of an urban city center surrounded by suburban sprawl. Metropolises are cities that have merged and contain multiple centers surrounded by a patchwork of residential and manufacturing areas all interconnected by an enormous transportation infrastructure that often occupies 40-60% of the land area. All of this requires an enormous power and water distribution network and sewage removal systems. In addition to being ecologically unsustainable it is also economically unsustainable as well, even by the current system of economics that erected it. Much of our infrastructure is in disrepair or marginal. Many cities have filed for bankruptcy.

    Single family homes are inefficient in the sense that they have a large surface area per occupant as compared to large buildings. This means they have a higher coefficient of thermal transfer per unit of volume increasing the energy demand to heat and cool them. In addition to the material and energy inefficiencies of suburbia we should also consider the social factors. This style of living often puts residents some distance from their place of employment, necessitating a daily commute. The US Census Bureau has the average commute time at just under 25 minutes. One way commute times of 1-2 hrs. are not unheard of and are the norm in some cities. A commute time of one hour translates to about 500 hours per annum, a significant figure when we consider that most Americans, if lucky, only get about 2 weeks of vacation time during that period. This is time that could be better spent on social, educational and recreational pursuits.

    Most cities are built on what was once prime agricultural land or wildlife habitat. A system of large buildings connected by rail would free up that land to be put to better use.

    Large buildings would provide the opportunity to live and work in the same building, freeing up the time squandered on commuting. Additionally it would eliminate the need to own a car, freeing up resources to be better put to use. According to AAA Americans spend an average of $9641 for the privilege of owning and operating an automobile.
    A hemispherical dome would have the least surface area per unit of volume, yielding the highest coefficient of thermal transfer. The key to reducing energy expenditures is to reduce the demand.

    We have seen a significant increase in the number of severe weather events over the past few decades damaging many thousands of homes and businesses. This trend is expected to continue. A large hemispherical dome would have a significant aerodynamical advantage over our current style of housing. Additionally, a system of large buildings connected by rail would make better use of our land resources and reduce the pressure to build in potential flood zones.
    Considering everything needed in our current system, cars and their infrastructure, our distribution networks and the materials and energy expenditures needed for the homes, a system of large buildings would consume far less of our resources per capita. This is very important especially during the transition period. This also means that we would be able to feed, clothe and shelter more people with fewer expenditures and at a much higher standard of living than our current global average. Slums and favelas could be eliminated.

    Constantinos Doxiados, the author of "Ekistics: An Introduction to the Science of Human Settlements" had some reservations about large buildings. He felt that they would disconnect us from the outdoors. This concern could be addressed by dispersing the buildings and providing adequate social and recreational areas around each building.
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  2. #2
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    Keep it up jody. I am for large buildings over small building except in rare cases. I want to add more to the list of advantages but I can't right now (its 2:00am).

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    Having lived in large buildings, I think I can offer some useful insights.


    > eliminate the need to own a car

    One of the things cars do, other than transfer folk from A to B when required (I could imagine them being partly replaced by the likes of Segways.) is they are used for mating purposes, somewhat like a peacock, except with a practical purpose of moving your date from A to B, as well as looking nice.

    Thus I reckon if you did get rid of the car, it would have a detrimental effect on the breeding rate. (Such that you may well not be able to keep it above replacement levels!)


    Crime...

    Much harder to be safe in a such an environment, as such you would need to have a heavy hand in place to maintain law and order, or what happens is all the law abiding citizens move away, leaving an ever increasing number of not-law-abiding citizens when then accelerates the process even faster.


    I do agree with the overall analysis that a larger building would be more efficient.

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    As for the "peacock factor", the automobile is only a recently added feather in the fantail. Without the automobile humans will develop new or perhaps revive older mating strategies and perhaps find more suitable mates based on less artificial criteria, perhaps one's achievements or capabilities for instance. But so right you are about the automobile being an important selection criteria in today's society. I once lost a girl I was courting to a guy with one of those giant diesel trucks. I had a Geo Metro but it was paid for and got 53 miles to the gallon. Turned out the guy was up to his ears in debt and the truck was repossessed because he couldn't keep up with the payments and afford the fuel. Relationships founded on such shallow criteria are fragile and without the truck theirs fell apart quickly.

    As for the crime factor, if this concern is based on the behavior of occupants of low/no income tenement housing, please consider the following:

    If society places large numbers of people living in poverty together in one location without any opportunities for advancement, crime is inevitable.I am more inclined to believe that inadequate resource distribution is the dominating factor rather than the size of the buildings. There are many large buildings that are populated by people of means that are not considered high crime areas. On the other hand there are numerous examples of slums that consist primarily of single family homes that are high crime areas just as there are neighborhoods of single family homes where the residents have adequate resources and opportunities that are relatively free of crime.

    It behooves us not to place all of our dishwashers, hotel room cleaners, grounds maintenance personnel, etc in one place. In doing so we convey to them that they are unfit to mingle with doctors, scientists, engineers, etc. By interspersing them we stimulate and multiply social opportunities. When the children of lower income families mingle with the children of higher income families they may develop an interest in a field they otherwise would have no exposure to. We also destigmatize their social status. By placing those who perform menial tasks in one area we reinforce the notion that they are less deserving than everyone else. And, importantly by commingling we create the opportunity the share social pattern and values.

    We must leave behind the thinking that created this mess we are in.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by fleshtheworld View Post
    Keep it up jody. I am for large buildings over small building except in rare cases. I want to add more to the list of advantages but I can't right now (its 2:00am).
    I would love to entertain some of your ideas on large buildings. One could probably write an entire book on the subject.

  6. #6
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    Large buildings...Great for cities, communities and city dwellers....and those folks not troubled by apartment/compartment living (I personally get claustrophobic in apartments)....While they remain highly undesirable and impracticable for rural folks who are selecting smaller homes these days.....

    "The truth depends on where one stands" .....
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  7. #7
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    Why not offer both? people at different stages of their lives could choose one or the other depending on their preferences and family situation...
    When i was younger, give me that city apartment where the action is!!! now give me that big boring suburb house with garden and parking. the truth really depends on where one stands...
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    > Without the automobile humans will develop

    But you can't put the genie back in the bottle !

    If you try, what happens is the folk that want to breed move to where the automobiles are, whilst those left behind without cars, don't breed.


    > If society places large numbers of people living in poverty together in one location
    > without any opportunities for advancement, crime is inevitable.

    Actually it isn't. :-)

    I've lived in such locations, sometimes there is crime, and sometimes there isn't crime.

    After a bit of study, I noticed what the common factors was which lead to low crime, the most important being intelligence !


    > By interspersing them we stimulate and multiply social opportunities.

    I've already seen the results of that kind of experiment in my own country, it did not end well.

    All that happens is you end up making a good area bad.

    If you are more selective and only let in the brighter folk, then things don't go bad.


    This is one of the reasons why I'm so keen to see more experiments take place before we decide what are the best ways to solve problems, because theories don't always match reality.

    I've been fortunate in way, because I've lived in many places, with all classes and types of people, so I've been able to spot these patterns over time, that I would otherwise be limited to guessing what might be the best theory.


    > By placing those who perform menial tasks in one area we reinforce the
    > notion that they are less deserving than everyone else.

    That might only be a view taken by those who don't live in such areas, a view that can perhaps infect those in such an area to suddenly imagine they are less deserving because a bunch of folk from outside the area say so !

    Go back in time a little, and the attitude of people in such areas was very much that folk considered themselves just as deserving as anyone else, but just different in their abilities.

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