One-Building Cities

The construction of one-building cities, housing one-hundred-thousand people or more, would result in cost savings that would cut the cost of living in half for those fortunate enough to live in them. (Fair taxation and access to basic necessities at the lowest possible cost would double one's effective income, and living in a one-building city would double it again.) I am not talking about ugly, over-crowded public housing units for the poor, but spacious, beautiful, and above all, efficient masterpieces of architectural engineering.

Imagine a black pyramid half a mile high. The outer walls are lined with residential and office spaces. The living spaces could have large, outdoor patios big enough for a hot tub, dining table, lounge chairs and hanging gardens. These living spaces would be as large as an average home, without stairs, and no yard to keep up. The walls, ceilings and floors would be soundproof and each unit can be configured to taste regarding interior wall placement, with lots of storage space between adjacent units, which further reduces sound transfer. High speed data networks would provide access to virtually unlimited digital entertainment and information, including interactive on-line educational programs (reducing the cost of education). This communication system would also enable individual participation in government affairs. "Smart dumb-waiters" could deliver groceries and other products directly to your residence, while everything inside the building can be reached in just a few minutes via traveling walkways, escalators, etc.

The pyramid would appear black because the walls would be covered with solar panels to assist in power generation to individual housing units, so there would be no system-wide power blackouts. Wind, wave, hydrogen and other renewable energy sources could also be used to supply electricity with no dependence on fossil fuels and their associated pollution.

Surrounding the building the nearby areas would contain parks and recreation areas, both community and private gardens, and farmland would lie beyond. There would be no highways, since no one needs a car, and a railroad tunnel would run under the building to a transportation hub and other one-building cities some distance away. Along the outside of the building at ground level, as well as inside, would be shops and restaurants. Office space and light manufacturing would make up much of the interior, which is also open and spacious, with indoor gardens, natural light, and a stadium large enough to seat a quarter of the population of the city at one time.

Constructing one-building cities is not simply an exercise in community design. The main reason for them to exist is to improve efficiency, reduce suburban sprawl, eliminate pollution and enhance the quality of life.

The cost of mass producing a private residence as part of such a structure is far lower than that of a free-standing building. Plumbing, electrical and data transmission lines are much shorter, streets do not have to be dug up and resurfaced to make repairs, and the main structure can be built with automated machinery designed specifically to "mass produce" that project. Using carbon nano-tubes as the primary construction material would enable the building to last a thousand years. Because most of the interior space is not exposed to the outside, heating and air conditioning costs would be dramatically reduced. And most importantly, cars would be eliminated.

Consider the reality of our civilization being so dependent upon automobiles. Besides the billions of dollars spent every year on roads that scar the environment, everyone who drives a car has to deal with drunk drivers on the road, speed traps, traffic tickets, dangerous weather conditions, auto insurance, automobile repair costs, fuel costs, etc. Hundreds of hours each year are wasted while sitting in traffic. Forty-thousand deaths and five-million auto related injuries occur in the U.S. each year. Many of those injured suffer brain or spinal cord injuries which result in tragic, permanent disabilities. Automobiles result in tens of billions per year in insurance claims, cause seventy percent of water pollution, and about half of our air pollution. If we were to start all over from scratch, is this the way you would design the world to be?

Constructing one-building cities and eliminating automobiles would save enough in construction, maintenance, energy, transportation, insurance and medical costs to double the standard of living for the residents. With everything you could want just minutes away, it could also be a great place to live.

But government would have to build these cities. If private enterprise owned the buildings prices would rise as high as the market could bear, which would mean rent would be as high as possible while people could still survive. We'd be slaves to the rich again, which is why unregulated capitalism is incompatible with a free and fair society.

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