I'm writing a story in Generic Dystopian Regime™. One character lives in a housing block. This housing block is shaped like an upside-down (i.e. the flat part is facing upwards) hemisphere; while it is technically above ground level, it's entirely buried in a mound of earth intended to protect it against a nearby tactical nuclear strike.

It was intended to be a panopticon-style method of monitoring each individual housing unit from a guardhouse on the ceiling. This guardhouse features a ball turret-shaped gun emplacement intended to suppress revolts. As such, each housing unit is the same distance away from the gun turret (hence the hemispherical shape).

It would have been a whole sphere, but the gun turret wouldn't have been able to aim at the entire inside of the sphere regardless of where it was placed.

The inside of this hemisphere features concentric rings of walkways; the ones near the top have a greater diameter, whereas the ones near the bottom have a narrower one. Each one is circular, spanning the entire circumference of the sphere at whichever height they're built at.

Imagine a hollow ball of concrete with housing units built into the inside of it - then cut it in half. Each level of housing units is a circular terrace that gets progressively larger the closer it is towards the ceiling. You can also imagine it as a circular amphitheater - just with a roof.

What advantages and disadvantages would the structure of this building pose? For instance:

  • What would the acoustics be like?

  • Would this help or hinder ventilation?

  • Would a hemispherical shape be a more efficient use of construction materials? I personally think it would, since a ball has the best volume (i.e. usable living room)-to-surface area (material required) ratio, and we can't use a whole one, since the gun turret would be unable to cover every walkway. However, I'd also appreciate different perspectives on this.

  • Would a hemispherical shape be easier or harder to construct? Take into consideration that it's buried in compacted earth; each layer of it can be built like a cake, rather than building the entire hemisphere and then burying it, which I doubt would be as easy.

Ask me questions if you need clarification on something.

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    $\begingroup$ (1) The acoustics question cannot be answered without lots and lots of additional data, starting with dimensional data, and explaining what aspects of acoustics are of interest. (2) The ventilation question cannot be answered without knowing what arrangements were made for ventilation, and of course the size of the structure. (3) More efficient than what? (But in general there is a very good reasons why hemispherical buildings are not built with their base upwards.) (4) How hard it would be to construct depends largely on its size and the intended loads. (But expect the answer to be "very".) $\endgroup$
    – AlexP
    Oct 14, 2021 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ I'm confused about the shape of your installation - is it a solid hemisphere with apartments around the outside and a gun turret in the (solid?) middle? Or is it a hemispherical amphitheater with apartments on the inside and a turret positioned in midair? $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Oct 14, 2021 at 22:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Cadence Hemispherical ampitheater. Turret is hanging from the ceiling. I'll modify my comment to be more specific. $\endgroup$
    Oct 14, 2021 at 22:16
  • $\begingroup$ /It would have been a whole sphere, but the gun turret wouldn't have been able to aim at the entire inside of the sphere regardless of where it was placed./ Why is this? I can draw a straight line from any point on a circle to every other point on that circle? And in this one case I do not credit my special straight line drawing skills. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Oct 14, 2021 at 22:25
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    $\begingroup$ Is the "anti-nuclear" trait for the structure as mentioned in the title of any significance? I'm not seeing anything in the question addressing it and it should be impact quite a lot on at least the "ventilation". If it is significant, what nuke-countermeasures are present? (is the structure underground with a roof or opened to the skies). $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2021 at 23:11

1 Answer 1


A sphere is best. With much interior clarity.

More space inside. A gun inside the sphere has a straight line shot to anyplace inside the sphere. Also maximally awesome.

"But nay!" you protest. "Nay! The walkways! The walkways block the line of sight from the gun! I must settle for half: a puny hemisphere because of the walkways!"

You will make those walkways of clear plastic. You will see right through them and if necessary shoot right through them. They will not shatter but they offer minimal resistance to the projectile. Also the residences of the inhabitants: clear plastic, with clear plastic interior walls and clear plastic plumbing. You can see all of their doings, yes, even unto their doingest doings. And the people wear clear plastic gowns except the guards who wear clear plastic jumpsuits, because it is that kind of dystopian fiction.

  • $\begingroup$ I hate to think what a fire would mean with that much plastic - me thinks that even some hot bullets embedding themselves in plastic may be enough to outgas a flammable mixture in closed spaces. Besides, a plastic that "offers minimal resistance to the projectile" is going to scratch easily - perhaps is the duty of the citizens to walk bare-footed? $\endgroup$ Oct 14, 2021 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ Everyone is forced to work out three hours a day and use communal showers with people their age. Along with clear clothing We will keep the population too horny to revolt! $\endgroup$
    – user64888
    Oct 15, 2021 at 0:00
  • $\begingroup$ @CharlieHershberger Today on Brave New Worldbuilding.SE... $\endgroup$
    – Cadence
    Oct 15, 2021 at 0:12
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    $\begingroup$ @CharlieHershberger you will be surprised how little the generalized nudity contributes to the hornyness of the population - I can tell you never sunbathed on a nudist beach. The oppressive environ will have a lot more influence on it. $\endgroup$ Oct 15, 2021 at 2:29

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