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In a setting I'm working on, a raised megacity the size of Switzerland (roughly 300,000 square kilometres) serves as the last refuge of humanity on a planet entirely covered by a global ocean. An unbroken ring of reinforced seawalls protects some eight million humans from skyscraper-tall waves, country-sized hurricanes, and the mind-warping effects of the ocean itself.

Despite this barricade, the inhabitants find their sanctuary frequently bombarded by storms of varying severity, to the point where gale-force winds and torrential rain are just accepted as a part of everyday life. How would the architecture of the city change to accommodate these environmental hazards?

Keep in mind that technology on the Wheel is very limited. The structure itself is held by its inhabitants to be the product of divine intervention, so that can be handwaved for now. Though their scientific advancement was in theory frozen at roughly the equivalent of Europe in 1920, the scarcity of resources means that in practice, most civilians only make regular use of technology that would be available a century before. Metal is valuable to the point where a steel sewing needle or a wrought-iron kettle would be considered a cherished heirloom. Machined objects are only made at the very heart of the city, in the heavily-fortified industrial core.

What would be the most cost-efficient materials and architectural techniques for the city to adopt, given these environmental and technical limitations?

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  • $\begingroup$ Did you really mean "8 million humans" there? I guessing it should be "billion"... $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2021 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ No, I meant eight million; eight billion humans could not survive in an area the size of Switzerland at early industrial tech levels and despite my calling it a "megacity" most of the land is dedicated to food production $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2021 at 1:10

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Buildings are short (relatively), squat, and interconnected. It is possible to get from anywhere to anywhere else without going outside. Tunnels are essential.

Nothing on the outside is set up so water can pool in it, or wind tear it off. Walls are as featureless as possible. Windows are, alas, probably going to be necessary (other light sources are too expensive) but there will be storm shutters built into the windows to seal them off. If there is a side that is generally the lee-ward side, that will have the windows concentrated there.

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You don't need nanotech to keep out the weather.

norman walkway

https://www.britain-magazine.com/features/inspiration/exclusive-photos-of-arundel-castle/attachment/norman-walkway-arundel-castle/

Stone will do fine. It is cheap and durable. I suspect that even if these folks are in the 1920s and using 1820s technology, they could be living in the robust city of stone put up by their ancestors a millenium before.

All that stone needed to come from somewhere. This city will also have tunnels, where stone used to be.

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    $\begingroup$ Maybe if you make that stone a little bit more elastic and forgiving in sandblasting conditions. I'd also advise against tunnels for frequent cases of hurricanes $\endgroup$ Oct 19, 2021 at 3:05
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    $\begingroup$ @AdrianColomitchi - probably not that much windblown sand in an ocean world. Tunnels could be very handy to prevent flooding. $\endgroup$
    – Willk
    Oct 19, 2021 at 13:13
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    $\begingroup$ @AdrianColomitchi I agree that underground tunnels would be advised against. However, above ground "tunnels" being fully covered walkways that are two stories above the high water mark would be quite useful. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Oct 19, 2021 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ @DavidR So raised walkways but sealed? $\endgroup$ Oct 20, 2021 at 4:21
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    $\begingroup$ @ParanoidNonhuman for example, see the skyways in Minneapolis which are sealed because of winter weather. Similar underground walkways exist in downtown Dallas TX for avoiding the heat. $\endgroup$
    – David R
    Oct 20, 2021 at 14:23

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