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In my world (set in the near future - no magical tech), every child after reaching the age of 1, is sent to study for 15 years in a centralised location shared by the entire world. With some playing around with numbers and assuming controlling governments having control of population, I've calculated that it'll work out to be around a billion people.

The centralised location is very spartan, and aside from having a bed, a desk and chest, everything else is shared (so public bathrooms, communal eating areas etc). There'll be the bare minimum required to sustain lives (so exercise areas etc...), as well as lecture rooms and the like.

Resources and other needed requirements aren't produced on-site - rather they're shipped there, so no need to take that into consideration. Academic and non-academic staff (no idea how to estimate this) would also need to be housed.

So the question is, how much area am I going to need to house these billion students + supplementary staff?

I've tried to produce estimates based on prison densities, but these apparently vary widely, and I've gotten values from 70M km^2 (around the size of Lithuania) to 262M km^2 (around the size of the UK). Can anyone help put me on the right direction?

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  • $\begingroup$ Are you looking for flat surface area to support this population? Buildings included/excluded? One floor/3 floors/50 floors? $\endgroup$
    – Frostfyre
    Apr 18, 2016 at 20:33
  • $\begingroup$ Since buildings tend to become more expensive as they go higher, let's keep it to 3 stories or lower. Otherwise yes, if you're trying to house a billion people (in a reasonable manner) - how large a building would you need? $\endgroup$
    – Haedrian
    Apr 18, 2016 at 20:36
  • $\begingroup$ The age of 1? Can the students even walk? $\endgroup$ Apr 18, 2016 at 21:29
  • $\begingroup$ This seems like literally stealing the baby from the cradle. Perhaps the age of three or so would make more sense. $\endgroup$ Apr 19, 2016 at 5:05
  • $\begingroup$ It's based on the concept (taken to extreme) of giving people an equal start in life, regardless of their background. So yeah, it has to be that young. $\endgroup$
    – Haedrian
    Apr 19, 2016 at 5:16

1 Answer 1

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Every answer is going to be an estimate, so here is mine.

2 Bunk beds, 3x2m rooms. That is what you need to accommodate the students. Corridor layout:

xx00xx00xx
xx00xx00xx
xx00xx00xx


xx00xx00xx
xx00xx00xx
xx00xx00xx

In average in the sleeping buildings, 4m² per person. If you have say 4 floors, that is 1m² per person.

To get some sunlight on the sleeping buildings, long and thin is a good way to go. With half a building of space between them, there is now. 1.5m² per person.

xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL
xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL
xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL
xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL
xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL
xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL
xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL xx xx xx xx SCHOOLSCHOOL

If that is half of your total building mass, the rest being class rooms etc., that is a total of 3 m² per person for an absolute minimum solution. For 1 billion people that is 3000 km².

Bare bones, anything more is luxury. For good measure, make that 10k km² for additional infrastructure (you are going to need quite a lot of it!). Fewer floors and an in general less cramped solution is then around 10k km², or about the size of Wales.

future Wales

Just to check if this is reasonable, I found that the closest school to me, which has 500 students and has quite a lot of room is 4500m². There are more than enough space for the students to sleep in the class rooms there. That is in total 9m² per person, or 18k km² for 1 billion students. (including a 2x for "other things".) About the same figure.

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  • $\begingroup$ Everything is ok, as long as your children do not need to be feed/showered/have their clothes washed.. $\endgroup$
    – SJuan76
    Apr 18, 2016 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Hohmannfan you mean bound, right? $\endgroup$
    – cst1992
    Apr 18, 2016 at 21:53
  • $\begingroup$ @SJuan76 That is part of the "other" half of all the buildings. There are no way to give an accurate area for this. I just have a lower bound here, for a presumably two orders of magnitude range $\endgroup$ Apr 18, 2016 at 22:22

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