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I'm taking about a gigantic building that serves all the needs of small city, about a thousand inhabitants. People must be able to work, sleep, eat, play, and go to school all with out leaving the building.

Is such a thing possible with our current tech level?

Upon thorough inspection, I have decided that the city would probably also need a shopping center or market of some kind so the residents don't have to leave the city just to get groceries.

If possible, I would like to have a stadium or something similar so that the residents can enjoy sports without having to leave the city or being confined to watching it on TV. Also, if possible, some kind of worship center where more religious residents can meet together. Again, unlike the others, this is not necessary for city to exist but it would make it resident life easier.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Serban Tanasa Sep 2 '16 at 14:54
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Yes.

Modern aircraft carriers have crews of around 5,000. It's even easier if you're supporting one fifth that many people and don't have to worry about making your building float or move at 35mph.

The real challenges are social/psychological. People tend to get stir crazy when kept in inside for long periods of time. Close quarters also makes it harder to get away from people you don't get along with.

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    $\begingroup$ +1 for pointing out actual "city" this big. Best proof something is possible is to show it was really done :) $\endgroup$ – Mołot Aug 31 '16 at 17:00
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    $\begingroup$ There are also 1200 person "camps" for people working in the oil industry in northern Alaska. While the workers involved with oil extraction work outside, support staff like cooks, housekeeping, janitors, and medical professionals can easily work a 2 week rotation without leaving the complex. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 31 '16 at 17:45
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    $\begingroup$ @ Bryan McClure "How to limit the psychological effects of living confined in a micro-city?" sounds like an excellent question to ask the community. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 31 '16 at 18:00
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    $\begingroup$ +1, and I'll add that many cruise ships satisfy these rules also, as well as having the shopping center, arena (basketball sized, not football, whatever your definition of football might be), theaters, and more. $\endgroup$ – cobaltduck Aug 31 '16 at 18:30
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    $\begingroup$ Probably easier to put a football field on an aircraft carrier $\endgroup$ – Deolater Aug 31 '16 at 21:18
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Wittier, Alaska: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whittier,_Alaska

Nearly 100% of the town's ~200 people live in "Begich Towers", which contains residences, a school, stores, gym/fitness, etc.

Although this is not as many people as e.g. an aircraft carrier, it is still an interesting example because it's a more diverse group of people (all ages, including children, instead of just navy personnel) that more naturally matches the population of a real city.

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  • $\begingroup$ Great example. However many residents work outside of Begich Towers. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Aug 31 '16 at 19:22
  • $\begingroup$ @Mooing Duck I wasn't disputing residency. Having been there, it's common knowledge that everyone in Whittier live in one building. I was commenting on the other requirement of the OP that people work in the one building which in the case of Whittier isn't so. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Sep 1 '16 at 2:06
  • $\begingroup$ @sphennings: My mistake, I totally misread your first comment $\endgroup$ – Mooing Duck Sep 1 '16 at 18:07
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Apart from the Montreal example, there was also this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kowloon_Walled_City It was a nearly self contained town with living, working and service quarters. And what is most particular, it sprung up by itself, with no planning. You can read a bit about it and see some images / stories from the place around the web.

It is possible to build something like that with the current tech, just not practical (staggered greenhouses, water purification, internal powerplants etc.

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  • $\begingroup$ But this city was closed because of health concerns, right? It would be nice to have an example where it's done right. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Torres Sánchez Sep 1 '16 at 0:25
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    $\begingroup$ @ArturoTorresSánchez Health concerns were more of excuse than actual reason. Walled City came to existence only because there was a no-mans-land. Once authorities figured out who's land it is, the City was over. Death and taxes, and the City evaded taxes for too long. $\endgroup$ – Agent_L Sep 1 '16 at 9:45
  • $\begingroup$ @Agent_L, OK, that makes sense. I would still love to see a successful example of this, though. $\endgroup$ – Arturo Torres Sánchez Sep 1 '16 at 15:44
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A very simple answer:
Take any city you like. Build roofs over all open places.
Job done.

Assuming you don't mind the occasional strut or pillar, and as long as you make sure to allow for ventilation, then this would have been possible right after the invention of glass.
People tend to suffer if they cannot see the changes of daylight over longer periods of time, plus lighting can be costly, so glass (or other transparent material) in abundance is a must. Everything else could even be done in timber structures.

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Take Mall of America, or King of Prussia mall. Add a large, collegiate sized gymnasium. MofA has hotels in it, I'm not sure of the capacity, but could easily be 1000.

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  • $\begingroup$ I was going to bring up malls as well. I vaguely remember watching a show about the largest malls in the world. The largest mall in Canada has apartments inside if I remember correctly. So it's possible to live, work, eat, sleep, shop, etc, everything you need without ever leaving. $\endgroup$ – industry7 Sep 1 '16 at 19:49
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Yes, easily possible. I am no expert but I am fairly sure that a block of flats with say 100 floors could easily be built. If each floor was as wide as an ordinary house then you could have 16 people per floor (slightly cramped but possible, especially with bunk beds). The accommodation floors would also contain bathrooms. That would be 70 accommodation floors. 1 canteen floor for every 10 accommodation floors would mean 7 canteen floors. If we assume a quarter of inhabitants are children that is 250 kids so maybe 5 school floors. Add maybe 3 entertainment floors with soft play, video games, cinema and so on for play. Most work can be done remotely via laptops so no floors needed for that. Have 5 floors for manufacturing things like clothing and other goods. This leaves around 10 floors for gather uses (meetings if the community, medical care etc)

Recap 70 living floors, 7 dining floors, 10 general floors, 3 entertainment floors, 5 manufacturer floors and 5 school floors.

I looked online and as far as I can tell it would require at least another 1kmsq to grow enough food so maybe a huge underground basement with UV and advanced hydroponics might be required.

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  • $\begingroup$ not that cramped. A 16x24m block has space for 4x4=16square meter rooms for 16 persons, everybody living in his own room with actual windows. Add two meters in every directing for walls, plumbing, etc. But I somewhat doubt that you can grow food for a thousand people on less than half a hectar (3800sqm). Not even with the most sophisticated intensive aquaponics. (boo for veganism!) $\endgroup$ – Karl Aug 31 '16 at 17:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Karl Hmm, How many food floors would you recommend? $\endgroup$ – Bellerophon Aug 31 '16 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ That's a simple calculation. yearly energy demand of 1000 people / (annual yield of conventional farming / sqm), and then you divide by perhaps a factor four because you can harvest four times a year, and another factor 2.5 because intensive farming is far more effective. 10MJ/d*1000*365d / (12MJ/kg (wheat) * 0.9 kg/sqm) / (4*2.5) = 30000 sqm. You're off by a factor ten. Sorry. ;-) $\endgroup$ – Karl Aug 31 '16 at 19:38
  • $\begingroup$ Simpler calculation without wikipedia: 1kg food per day and person, 1kg food per square meter = 365 000 sqm. ;-) Less than a square kilometer, and i think we can do much better than one kg per sqm per year. Though I'd want a roastbeef every other month or so, so let's go with your number. $\endgroup$ – Karl Aug 31 '16 at 19:47
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This has been discussed and speculated about a lot, particularly 20 to 40 years ago before the human population explosion had started to decline and people were trying to come up with ways to handle unconstrained population growth.

The term for what you are describing is arcology.

No-one in the real world has actually built an arcology yet but there have been a number of experiments and concepts with them. Several (For example Crystal Island in Russia) were started but then abandoned or put on hold.

An excellent novel that looks at the social implications of arcologies is "Oath of Fealty" by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle. It's set in the near future so is more relevant to our current tech level than most sci-fi arcologies.

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Istanbul's Grand Bazaar easily qualifies. Basically it's the original shopping mall. However it doesn't have a stadium.

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