This is my basic design for a futuristic shell structure to accommodate the system of connected activity spaces described in the previous article. It forms a physical dwelling-cum-workplace designed to rest on any small reasonably flat area on the habitable surface of the planet. [Larger Version]
Looking at a night-time map of the Earth, I see that all the illuminated areas hug very restricted parts of the habitable land of the planet. Certainly one main reason for this is that modern living demands that people cannot practically live beyond the reach of the utility grids that supply water, sewage, electricity, gas and telecommunications. I proposed to myself the idea that if I could design an accommodation unit that could supply all basic human utility needs independently of the grids, then this would open up vast areas of habitable land that are currently uninhabited. I called it a Universal Terrestrial Dwelling [UTD].
My UTD has internal independent means of acquiring its own air, water, electricity, heat and perhaps gas. It has its own drill and purification unit for acquiring water. Alternatively, it can catch rain water or extract it from the humidity of the air like a house leak or a bromelia plant does. Ideally it would have a translucent outer surface below which is a coating of solar cells to produce electricity and heat.
However, as a simpler alternative, the four 3·3138163-metre square rooms could each be fitted with transparent roof panels. This would provide 9 square metres of clear sklight. If the central square metre is used for natural room lighting, this leaves 8 square metres around the periphery, under which could be mounted 8 square metres worth of air-cooled solar cell packages.
A 1 m² solar panel kept face-on to the sun generates roughly 2kWh of electrical energy per day. If it is essentially facing vertically upwards [as in the case of the UTD] it will produce only about 2cos(45) kWh per day. So the 8 panels in each of the 4 square rooms will produce 8 * 4 * 2 * cos(45) = 45·255 kWh per day. This is equivalent to an ambient constant power of 1886 watts, which is almost 5 times the 400 watts of ambient constant power consumed by my detatched suburban house in the United Kingdom.
The UTD also has openable ducts to small turbines for generating electricity by wind or breeze. It also has internal means of processing and recycling its own sewage and connecting to a universal global wireless communications network. It impinges upon the earth to only the minimum necessary and sufficient extent, with footings amounting to less than half a square metre. It is light and transportable; perhaps even vehicular.
It is made of a light durable material with high thermal impedance, something like Kevlar or the carbon fibre now used in aircraft construction. This is ideally formed from natural ingredients: something like carbon dioxide foamed papier mâché made with a non-inflammable goo and reinforced with nets of strong organic fibres like the material of which spider threads are made. The shell of the dwelling, together with its internal walls and floors is formed in a giant mould or template.
The shape of the UTD is streamlined in order to withstand the increasingly violent weather the world in now facing. I have experimented with many physical designs. The one I find most practical at the moment comprises a top section and a bottom section, each in the form of a square ellipsoid, with the vertical scale of the lower section being a quarter that of the upper section. Ray-traced illustrations of this design are cycled on the right. The UTD is suspended 2½ metres above the ground on 4 narrow box supports.
The supports are retractable to facilitate easier transportation of the UTD.
In an endeavour to minimise the UTD's impingement on the planet's surface, I experimented with the idea of using only 3 supports. This would make the UTD easier to level on an unprepared site. However, it would also leave the UTD less stable in high winds and the supports would probably need anchoring to the ground with penetrating augers. The 3-support idea was therefore discarded.
The internal space of the UTD is divided by walls arranged according to the pattern of octagons and squares shown on the left. The dimensions of the UTD are determined on the basis that the hexagons measure 8 metres across flats. That is: each hexagon can surround an 8 metre diameter circle such that the circle will touch the mid-point of each of the hexagon's sides. The sides of the hexagons — and hence also of the squares — are thus each 3.3138163 metres wide. The ellipsoidal shell is scaled horizontally to accommodate this wall plan.
The total accommodation of the UTD therefore comprises 5 hexagons, 4 squares and 4 munted triangles at each mid-side. My currently preferred usage for each space is annotated on the diagram above on the left. This is because mine is a one-bedroom research version of the UTD. In a residential version, the Laboratory could, for instance, become a second bedroom.
The vertical profile of the inner walls is cut to fit the vertical profile of the squared ellipsoidal shell [as shown on right]. The red square post type object is 8 metres high and is to illustrate the minimum ceiling clearance within the UTD. The walls are all 30 cm thick and are made of the same material as the outer shell. Some of them contain doors.
The floor of the UTD is at the height of greatest horizontal area of the squared ellipsoidal shell. This is at the "seam" between the upper and lower halves of the shell. The vertical scaling of the lower half-ellipsoid is a quarter that of the upper half-ellipsoid. But since they are both semi-ellipsoids with the same horizontal dimensions, they join to form a smooth continuous curved surface, i.e. without a cusp.
My Universal Terrestrial Dwelling can stand alone in any adequately sized plot of reasonably flat land. The plan view on the right shows the dwelling set within a two-hectare square of land in order to illustrate its size and scale relative to a standard landshare. Two parallel access driveways or footpaths join the UTD to the boundary of the plot. A perpendicular section of path forms the 'top' of the π shape to provide access to the inner part of the plot. The yellow area represents the proportion of the Earth that is currently cultivated to provide food. The blue area represents the corresponding area of fresh water.
Above is an aerial view, from an elevation of 20°, of the whole gleba with the UTD, lake and crop areas in the middle.
In a landshare-based society, there's a practical advantage — if not a necessity — to be able to move to different landshare locations throughout one's lifetime. For this reason, I propose that, in this alternative world, a home should be essentially vehicular, thus being able to relocate easily. It doesn't need to move frequently. Nor does it need to travel at great speed. Ideally, it should, for the duration of a move, become some form of airborne vehicle that can move easily and safely under its own power & guidance, with the ability to avoid collisions with fixed obstacles and other airborne objects. At least, it should be light enough to be transportable by helicopter using built-in lifting eyes.
Each of the spaces [9 octagons, 4 squares and 4 munted triangles] within the UTD accommodates a specific activity or function as discussed in my previous essay on Activity-Based Design.
All these activity spaces, each labelled with its designated function, are shown on the right. The green arrows are normal doors. The red arrows are emergency doors. The colouring of each space indicates its privacy classification. The Lift & Stairs plus the Reception & Viewing patio [shown in purple on the diagram] are classified as public space. This doesn't mean that the public at large are free to enter. It is simply space where I accept strangers and public officials who have reason to visit. There is a sofa, table and chairs for interview.
The Lounge on the left of the UTD plus the Kitchen-Diner, Herbs Patio and the Toilet & Utility Room on the right of the UTD [shown in green in the diagram] are designated as private space. This is primarily family space where relatives and others are invited at the family's discretion. It is space where I would also invite members of my coterie [friends and colleagues] who participate in my activities and share my special interests. Visiting public officials, should they need a toilet, can go through the Kitchen Diner and Herbs Patio without really violating family privacy too much. The Laboratory & Workshop, Secondary Lift & Stairs, Flight Deck and the Machine & Bio-recycling Room [shown in brown in the diagram] are classified as coterie space. This is space where I engage in economic, research and special interest activities. The bedroom, Drying Patio and the Laundry & Bathroom [shown in pink in the diagram] are classed as intimate space.
Following is my proposed design and content of each of the 13 rooms of the UTD. This is my personal preference. Notwithstanding, the design and choice of content for the 13 spaces is flexible. Others may prefer different designs and content. My particular choices of design and content reflect the intent that my UTD is essentially a research facility for developing my Universal Terrestrial Dwelling concept.
The dwelling is intended to have a minimum possible impact on the planet. For this reason, it impinges on the planet's surface in only 4 small areas, each of 4 by 0.3 metres = 1·2 square metres. That adds up to a total of only 4.8 square metres. The floor of the dwelling is 3·75 metres above the surface of the planet.
Please refer to the dimensions illustration, which it may be best to open in another tab of your browser. The centre level of the floor is 3·75 metres above the ground. The floor is 0·3 metres thick. The level of the upper surface of the floor is therefore 3·75 + 0·15 = 3·9 metres above ground level. Consequently, the staircase has to provide an ascent of 3·9 metres from ground level to the floor surface of the UTD.
The staircase is built inside the square room at the lower part of the plan view of the UTD. There are 3 stretches of stairs, each with 6 risers of 0·2 metres, providing a total ascent of 3·6 metres. That leaves the 0·3 metre thickness of the ground floor of the staircase enclosure, which is the threshold step from the outside ground level to the lower landing level. The outside entrance door is in the wall of the staircase enclosure at the top of the adjacent diagram. The door of the upper landing is at the lower end of the diagram.
There are emergency escape doors on the upper landing at the top of the diagram [from the Machine & Bio-recycling Room] and mid way along the Upper Landing [from the Kitchen/Diner]. The Lift & Stairs enclosure retracts upwards, the bottom of which then forms part of the underside of the UTD's hull. This renders the UTD secure from unwanted access from the outside when necessary.
The secondary Lift & Stairs unit [upper square on the UTD plan] is the same, except that it is rotated clockwise through one right-angle. The door at the right end of the Upper Landing is to enter the Laboratory & Workshop. A door mid way along the Upper Landing is to enter the Machine & Bio-recycling Room. An emergency door at the left end of the Upper Landing facilitates escape from the Bedroom.
The lift is a slow guarded open platform type for lifting furniture, appliances, equipment and possibly a person in a wheelchair. It is equipped with passive air compression retarders for safe descent.
The first space encountered on exiting the entrance stairway is the Reception & Viewing Patio. This is one of the four spaces in the form of a munted triangle, as shown below. It is classed as a "public" area. This means that it is where unfamiliar visitors such as officials and commercialists may enter for the purpose of interview or discussion. It is also a place where the UTD's residents may sit, relax and observe the outside wilderness through the large wrap-round window.
For this purpose, the Reception & Viewing Patio is furnished with a large comfortable sofa [or settee] comprising two 2-metre sections forming an angle of 135°. A low wooden table of a similar shape is provided for resting brief cases or documents, writing, using a laptop or serving light refreshments. The table may be a little higher than a normal coffee table but lower than a dining table or desk. The table has two of its corners sliced off at 45° to permit easy passage around it. On the wall immediately adjacent to the entrance from the stairs, hooks may be provided for hanging outdoor coats and jackets.
The Reception & Viewing Patio has exit doors to the Lounge on one side and the Kitchen/Diner on the other side as shown. It thus acts as a buffer space between the entrance stairs and the "private" spaces of the UTD.
The term Flight Deck refers to my home-office or study from where I write, administrate and control all my projects, including the Universal Terrestrial Dwelling. The term hails from when I worked on flight simulators where the flight deck of the particular aircraft type was the place from where everything was controlled. The Flight Deck of the UTD is accommodated in the munted triangle at the top of the plan diagram. The layout of its basic content is shown below.
This research & development version of the UTD is designed to accommodate two occupants. For this reason, the Flight Deck contains duplicated facilities — referred to as left and right — in the style of an aircraft flight deck. It has two desks, each equipped with a built-in computer system. A keyboard, mouse and monitors [not shown] rest upon the desk. Each computer system is accommodated in two flat-format 23-inch [584mm] square by 2U [1½" or 76mm] deep carbon-plastic boxes, containing the motherboard, disks, router, modem, power supply and backup batteries. The boxes protrude 0·25 metres above the desktop, which provides easy-access sockets for peripherals, indicator lamps and controls. Each desk has a swivel chair [shown in purple].
Its wrap-round window bathes the Flight Deck in natural daylight and facilitates a wide-angle view of the outside wilderness during the day. At night, the material of the window becomes reflective from the inside and opaque from the outside.
The Herbs Patio is housed in the munted triangle on the right of the plan view of the UTD. This area is considered to be part of the UTD's "private" space. Its single feature is a 9·0 by 0·6 metre table height planting box. This provides 5·4 square metres of planting space, which is easy to reach across without having to stretch unduly. Small gardening tools and other accessories necessary to work the planting box are kept in the adjacent Utilities room. The planting box has a built-in watering facility which can carry out automated watering schedules.
The Herbs Patio also provides a buffer space between the Kitchen/Diner and the toilet, which may possibly be used by unfamiliar visitors. The Herbs Patio is also the way of access between the private part of the UTD and the rooms that are classed as "coterie" space; namely, the Laboratory/Workshop, Flight Deck and the secondary Lift & Stairs.
As with all four of the munted triangle spaces, the entire ceiling and outer wall of the Herbs Patio is one giant wrap-round window, making it, in effect, a greenhouse. The window wraps all the way under the entire Herbs Patio. Ideally, the glass [or whatever other transparent material] of which this window is made should be of a type that passes ultraviolet light in order to maximise the growth of what is planted in the planting box.
The only normal access to the Toilet & Utility Room is from the Herbs Patio described above. The Toilet & Utility Room does, however, have an emergency exit door to the Machine & Bio-recycling Room and from hence to either of the two Lift & Stairs units.
The Toilet & Utility Room contains a toilet and wash basin plus storage for light gardening tools & consumables and general domestic cleaning equipment, tools and consumables.
The Drying Patio is housed in the munted triangle on the left of the plan view of the UTD. This area is considered to be part of the UTD's "intimate" space, along with the Bedroom and Bathroom/Laundry. Its single feature is a facility for hanging clothes to dry. It comprises 5 11mm diameter aluminium or plastic rails, averaging 9 metres in length and spaced 10cm apart. This thus provides 45 metres of rigid "washing line" for hanging clothes to dry. For two people, this is sufficient line length for frequently used clothes to be hung until used, thus avoiding the chore of putting them away afterwards in drawers or wardrobes. The wrap-round window exposes the drying clothes to the warmth of the sun and also ultra violet light, which disinfects them while drying.
The Drying Patio is equipped with 2 front-loading washing machines. These are installed in the Laundry & Bathroom with their front access being through the wall into the Drying Patio. Two machines are provided so that if and when one of the machines breaks down or requires maintenance or refurbishing, full washing capability will always be available.
Receptacles for dirty clothes and baskets for dry clothes, plus an ironing board and storage for washing powders and conditioners are also located in the Drying Patio.
The only access route to the "intimate" space of the UTD is from the "private" space of the Lounge. The Drying Patio is thus an "intimate" buffer zone providing access to the Laundry & Bathroom and the Bedroom.
As with the Toilet & Utility Room, the only normal access to the Bathroom/Laundry is from the Drying Patio described above. The Bathroom/Laundry does, however, have an emergency exit door to the Machine & Bio-recycling Room and from hence to either of the two Lift & Stairs units.
The Bathroom/Laundry contains duplicated facilities. At the left of the adjacent diagram are the enclosures for the two washing machines, which face through the wall into the Drying Patio.
Second from the left in the diagram are the two wash basins. These are followed by the two toilet bowls. Finally, at the right of the diagram are two box shower units. Bathroom consumables are stored in cupboards under the wash basins and shallow shelves set into the walls.
The bedroom is spacious with private access from the other parts of the dwelling [green arrow] being via the Drying Patio. Direct private access to the Bathroom & Laundry is also by way of the Drying Patio. Surrounding the central bed are 4 segments of built-in units comprising two wardrobes and two dressing tables. Beyond the foot of the bed are two other segments comprising low plinths for items to enhance the ambience of the bedroom. Natural light for the bedroom is from a central skylight directly over the bed, which offers a clear view of the night sky. An emergency exit door [red arrow] give direct access to the secondary Lift & Stairs.
The cycle of processes, which the bedroom is intended to host, is illustrated on the left. These processes do not, of course, always follow the complete sequence. Indeed, a process may occur more than once in the cycle. For example, one would perhaps want to wash before and after coitus. Between dressing and undressing are all the activities of the day that take place outside the bedroom. This bedroom is designed to provide, in an optimum environment, all the facilities necessary for these 5 closely coupled processes of daily life.
The base of the bed is made as a grid of 2 cm wide by 5 cm deep pine slats with 2 cm spacing between slats. The entire grid is a 2 metre square, with a 30 cm square cut out from each corner to give the bed the shape of a Maltese cross. The grid is surrounded by a pine flange 15 cm wide. The flange is finished in under-padded dyed leather. The flange is angled at 60° to act as a retainer for bedding and pillows. The pine grid is supported on top of a pine plinth, which could contain large drawers for storing spare bedding.
Upon the pine grid is placed a very thick 2 metre by 2 metre feather mattress, again with 30 cm squares cut from the corners. It is quilted to form separate feather filled compartments so that the feathers do not gather into large humps. The mattress is encased in a thick patterned velvet over-casing that can be changed and washed. The over-bedding is a 170 cm by 170 cm covered duvet, with a 30 cm square cut from one corner. The duvet is of a weight appropriate to the season and is used with 4 matching covered pillows.
Instead of a headboard and bedside tables, the bed has a bed-height table of glass or wood 140 cm by 40 cm at its head for things that must be reachable from the bed, such as a carafe of drinking water and glasses, and an electrically warmed chalice of massage oil.
For sleeping, both the occupants lie with their heads on Pillows 1 & 2 next to the glass table. The duvet covers the occupants symmetrically, overlapping Pillows 3 & 4. For coitus in the Tantric-T position, the man lies across the bed with his head on Pillow 3, while the woman moves to the centre of the bed with her head between Pillows 1 & 2. She may choose to pull one of the pillows to be directly under her head, but having her head low between the pillows should afford her a better stance. The advantage of copulating in this sideways position is that neither participant puts weight or unproductive physical pressure upon the other. Pillows 3 & 4 can be placed on the other side of the bed, and the duvet turned over, to provide a mirror configuration if this is preferred.
A plan of the UTD's lounge is shown on the left. In the centre is a 4-metre diameter round carpet up on which is placed a 2-metre diameter low table. At the edge of the carpet, tangential to it, is a 2-metre wide television screen. Easy chairs are arranged around the table for viewing the screen. Shelves, containing books and other media, with a reading desk in the middle, occupies a 135° peripheral arc on each side. There is a low plinth behind the screen, up on which both active and passive solid art-forms are stood for display. Behind the chairs is a semicircular glass wall to protect the chairs from the doorway.
People today spend a lot of time viewing video programs. It is one of the main activities in most households. Our landshare dwelling must therefore include a room specifically designed for, and dedicated to, watching visual content. The UTD is also a workplace. A workplace in a high technology age needs a room where people can sit to view an audio visual demonstration or hold a group discussion.
The ideal environment and equipment for recreational video viewing are essentially the same as for audio visual demonstrations for work purposes. Since the two activities take place at different times of the day, the same place can be used for both. The best way to view something together as a small group is to sit in a semicircle. The screen is flat, so those in the middle of the group will get a more direct view of the screen than those at the ends. We need to make it fairer.
Consider a dipole radio antenna. It radiates power in a way that delivers equal signal strength to all points on a circle that touches the middle of the dipole. A dipole is by no means a perfect analogy for viewing a screen, but it is better than nothing. For each person to receive equal illumination from the screen, they must sit around a circle that touches the centre of the screen. An individual's view would however be too oblique if he sat anywhere on the half of the circle closest to the screen. Everybody must therefore sit on the semicircle furthest from the screen, as illustrated on the right.
Each chair is a comfortable well upholstered easy chair in leather or soft fabric. The centre point of each seat rests on the semicircle. The chairs swivel easily to enable people to sit with equal comfort while facing either the screen for viewing or the centre of the group for discussing.
Centred within the 4-metre diameter carpeted circle is a round table 2 metres diameter. At the far edge of the round carpet is the screen. This is essentially a very large tablet computer with internal mass storage for audio, video and documentary content. It is controlled via a standard keyboard and mouse on the table, which are linked to the screen via Bluetooth-type radio. The screen receives content via the dwelling's local area network.
The best size for a high definition screen for viewing by a group of up to 8 people is between 1½ and 2 metres wide with an aspect ratio of 16:9. The screen is mounted on 100 millimetre metal box rails, which span from floor to ceiling. The height of the screen is adjusted so that the middle of the screen is 1040 millimetres above the floor, the ideal viewing height from an easy chair.
The sound system comprises 4 speakers plus a sub woofer. A right and left speaker is mounted in the ceiling above each side of the screen. Two more speakers are mounted one in each end of the peripheral library arc behind the chairs. The sub-woofer is mounted in the floor underneath the table.
The library and the media viewing facilities are both in the lounge area. It is therefore possible, at times, that sound from the viewing equipment could seriously disturb people who are reading. At such times, anybody using the video facilities can turn off the universal sound system and use headphones. These should be cordless, using Bluetooth-type technology to receive the media sound via short-range radio broadcast.
In order to maintain a tranquil interior to the UTD, the UTD is equipped with external microphones connected to an active sound compensator, which is able to cancel out excessive noise coming from the UTD's immediate outside environment.
Dimmable shielded coloured strip LEDs are mounted in recessed grooves around the edge of the screen enclosure to provide background lighting for viewing.
On the left is the physical plan of the Kitchen-Diner module. The focus of the Kitchen-Diner is the 2 metre diameter round table placed and fixed at the centre of the room. It is shown with 8 chairs. However, there is plenty of space for as many as 12 chairs around this table. The centre of the table is rotatable to facilitate easy access to condiments and serving dishes, which stand on small electric hobs. Directly above the table is the room's 3 by 3 metre skylight with rounded corners. This is ringed by small spotlights for evening. The table and chairs stand on a 6 metre diameter deep-pile carpet.
The adjacent diagram models the flow of the processes of preparing a meal, eating it and washing up afterwards. The meal's ingredients are taken from the food store (1). The cooking utensils are taken from the pan store (2). The ingredients are washed and prepared (3). Peelings and other waste are discarded (4). The prepared ingredients are put in pans, which are placed on the stove (5). The table is set with plates, cutlery and other tableware (6). The meal is served and eaten (7). After the meal, the dirty dishes, cutlery and serving pans are cleared from the table (8). Waste is cleared from the plates and pans (9) after which they are washed (10) and put in their respective storage units (11) and (12). These processes are accommodated in the physical context of the illustration above.
The main active appliances used in these processes are a cooker and a dish washer. A freezer and refrigerator are also available for food storage. The cooker comprises a 2-ring ceramic hob and a separate conventional oven. It may also include a 'microwave' or HF oven. An electric mixer or blender may be useful but is not really necessary. I also like to have a toaster. Ideally, two sinks are required. A normal sink is needed for washing large cooking utensils. A smaller sink is useful for washing ingredients when preparing a meal.
A plan of the UTD's Laboratory/Workshop is shown on the right. The curved wall unit, stretching the long way round between the two doors, comprises 3 workbenches with overhead and underneath storage for books, stationery, tools and equipment. The curved wall unit, stretching the short way between the two doors, is a floor to ceiling book case. In the centre of the work space is a console containing 5 work stations used for computing, communications and navigation. Plenty of free space is provided around the walls containing doors for wheelable equipment such as an oscilloscope or tools trolley.
The shallow format electronics racks [shown in blue] contain active RF units and antenna tuning, extending and retracting mechanisms. The cabinets each side of the door to the Machine & bio-recycling room contain the data collection devices for the Bio-recycling processes.
Entrance access is provided from the Herbs Patio [bottom right] and the secondary Lift & Stairs [left]. The door at the top left is the only access to the Flight Deck. The door at the bottom left provides access to the Machine & Bio-recycling room.
The work space's 8-segment central console is shown on the left. The larger rotating view [click image] better shows the details of its 5 equipped segments. These are: a normal computer work station, file server, a printing and scanning station, communications station and a navigation station. Each equipped segment has a pair of standard 23-inch rack rails at the rear, between which up to 3 standard flat-format 23-inch equipment cabinets may be mounted. Three of the 8 segments are unequipped to facilitate access.
On the right is a plan view of the console. It is oriented to be consistent with the plan view of the whole work space octagon shown above. The outer radius of the console is 2½ metres. The desk sectors are 75 cm deep. This leaves the inner circle of the console with a radius of 1·75 metres to give adequate space for chairs and personal access. Each station has access to the UTD's local-area network and all except the Server-Router segment may be switched off when not in use. The Server segment hosts various file servers. It is therefore kept running all the time. It also acts as the dwelling's universal router that gives the UTD's other computers access to the outside world.
The view on the left shows the normal Computer Workstation. A monitor screen is mounted on the central rack-rails of each station. The height of each screen can be adjusted independently to suit each human user. Each station's computer is housed in a standard flat-format 23-inch cabinet set above the screen. The cabinet shown below desk level houses a battery back-up power supply and cooling system for the screen and computer. The keyboard and mouse are placed on the table in front of the screen. Maintenance of computer, monitor and power supply is facilitated by removable panels from the back of the console.
A loudspeaker is fixed to each rack-rail just above the screen to provide local sound. Additionally, each computer workstation has a headset (headphones with a boom microphone) for private listening and voice communication. This normally hangs on a hook fixed to the side of the vertical divider panel at the left of the workstation's desk area. Headset cables are normally connected to the left earpiece, and are of the extensible coiled type to avoid snagging and tangling.
The Server-Router station has the same form as the normal Computer Workstation. The difference is only in the internal content of the computer box at the top. Although it can also be used as a general purpose PC work station, the server+router station's main roles are as follows: 1) running on-line servers such as web, FTP, eMule, gnutella and G2, 2) running a local area network (LAN) router serving the other two workstations and the printer scanner station and 3) running an infrastructure router which acts as a 3-way junction in our Landshare World's global network. For this reason it is generally kept running continuously.
On the right of the Server-Router station is the Printer-Scanner station. I can never decide whether I prefer a separate printer and scanner or a device which incorporates both. Both options have their different merits. In the illustrations, it is a combined unit shown as a green box in the middle of the segment's desk space in place of the keyboard. Its printing and scanning services are made available to the work stations via the local area network. Stationery and consumables for the printer and scanner are stored within the confines of the segment. The two upper equipment boxes here contain additional network linkage and communications functions for the Server Station.
There is plenty of room around the circular corridor outside the console to access the rear of each flat-format computer cabinet for maintaining and upgrading the equipment. All power and signal cables are channelled neatly within a cable gully along the outer circumference of the desk surface. From there, they run up the insides of the hollow rack rails to the equipment cabinets. Cooling fans from all equipment cases have a clear exhaust path into the large peripheral corridor around the console.
The dwelling's means of navigating and of communicating with the world are accommodated within the Navigation [Nav] and Communications [Com] stations. In these segments, the upper two equipment boxes, instead of containing a screen and computer, contain navigation or communications equipment.
In Landshare World, there is a communications infrastructure, which fulfils the role currently fulfilled by the Internet. It is not, however, safe or expedient for landshare dwellers to be dependent upon the services or subjected to the ulterior motives of corporate or State interests. The Landshare Internet is therefore based on a distributed millimetric radio network in which each dwelling is an active node.
For this purpose, 3 radio-frequency (RF) modems are housed in the upper cabinet of the Com segment. Each of these highly sophisticated and configurable modems is connected by a LAN cable to a router socket on the Server-Router computer. The co-axial input and output of each modem are connected to each of 3 millimetric radio transceivers in the same cabinet. These in turn are connected to dish aerials mounted within the roof of the Laboratory/Workshop octagon.
Each of the three millimetric transceivers forms one end of a point-to-point communications link between this Landshare dwelling and one of three neighbouring Landshare dwellings. Thus is formed a worldwide wireless network of low vulnerability. Its much larger number of nodes makes it somewhat slower than the present-day Internet. Notwithstanding, its lack of speed is well overcome by adopting a different paradigm for distributing information.
The high bandwidth communication, provided by this Landshare "Internet", is not always necessary. But direct ultra-reliable low bandwidth communication, which the Landshare "Internet" cannot provide, sometimes is — especially in emergencies. For this reason, the communications segment also contains low, medium, high frequency and VHF transceivers, which exploit the facilities nature provides for infrastructure-independent communication.
For this purpose, the communications segment also contains communications equipment covering the long wave (low frequency), medium wave (medium frequency), short wave (high frequency) and VHF. Included in the cabinets are front-ends and converters reaching up to 2 gigahertz. To be able to transmit and receive radio signals effectively, these equipments must be coupled to the universe via appropriate forms of electromagnetic transducers. Depending on the part of the radio spectrum concerned, these transducers can be variously aerial wires, rod antennas, magnetic loops, dipole-fed multi-element arrays and waveguide-fed dishes, plus other exotic concoctions. Rod antennas of various sizes are built into the space above the ceiling of the work space octagon. These extend upwards through the roof above and can be retracted by motors, which also close the roof opening during storms. Magnetic loops of a broad range of sizes are built into the fabric of the dwelling. Dish and array antennas are also accommodated in the space above the ceiling of the work space octagon.
The Earth's Ionosphere offers a more direct and infrastructure-free means of communication. It can, however, be a fickle friend. Long-range communication paths open and close arbitrarily at different frequencies. Finding the optimum working frequency between two locations — at different times of the day, year and solar cycle — requires much knowledge, skill and patience.
For this reason, HF communication has a permanent element of on-going research. Hence research is also a function of the communications segment. To maintain a reliable channel, it is generally necessary to use multiple-diversity links. That is, having equipment working on more than one frequency at a time, so that, when one or more channels fade out, at least one other is still open. Research also continues into different ways of using the short wave spectrum, such as sharing the space via a chip-coded spread spectrum regime to offer both reliability and privacy. And underpinning all is an on-going programme of research into the electric and magnetic aspects of the Earth's atmosphere, and indeed, of the universe beyond.
Landshare society is semi-nomadic. For this reason, the dwelling is vehicular — or, at least, transportable. It is able to move — or be moved — from one location to another. For this it needs a means of navigation and flight control.
A diversity of active conventional means of navigation are installed in the so far unused tower units in the vertical side cabinets of the central console. These include a compass, sextant, inertial platforms, radio aids and GPS. They also include research devices for new experimental means of navigation such as neural network based landscape recognition, geo-sonic resonance, pulsar signature recognition and automatic optical star fixing. The aim of these new experimental methods is to make dwelling navigation as independent as possible of artificial infrastructure. Some of these tower units also contain devices for invoking and controlling the dwelling's motive power.
Herein is what makes the UTD independent of utility grids like piped water, ducted sewage, gas & electricity supply and telecommunications grids.
The mechanisms for acquiring, purifying & re-cycling air & water, the recycling of waste and the production of gas and electricity are all housed within the central octagon of the UTD. It may also accommodate the motors and control systems for relocating the UTD to a different landshare site when necessary. The dimensions of this space are shown on the left but details of its contents are not given here.
Water is acquired by drilling artesian bores, extracting water from air and capturing rain water. Freshly acquired water is subjected to heavy metals testing and purification. Water is purified by firstly passing it through charcoal or ceramic micro-filters. Then it is oxygenated and irradiated by ultra-violet rays, preferably from sun light. It is then ready for human consumption and washing. Sewage is re-processed into flushing water. Where location and climate allow, re-cycling is done by biological means external to the UTD. In a tropical climate, it is done preferably by banana trees. In a temperate climate where banana trees can't survive, this process must be done via a reed bed. In difficult locations, the re-cycling must be done artificially in active tanks within the body of the UTD.
There are several options for generating electricity, including solar cell panels in the translucent surface of the roof of the UTD, wind turbines powered by breeze entering ducts on the underside of the UTD, bio-diesel and other heat engines such as the Sterling. An option for a gas supply is bottled propane but this is not preferred. A natural option such as biomass is more the intent.
The UTD is essentially a research project. Consequently, it is the firm intention that all parameters of all systems should be monitored, documented and contributed to a central knowledge base as a resource for future design. For this reason, one of the workstations of the Laboratory/Workshop's central console is to monitor, record and analyse all possible parameters pertaining to the production and recycling processes taking place within the Machine & Bio-recycling Room.
Custom designed user-maintainable deep-cycle cells for electricity storage, plus chargers and inverters for providing the variety of supply buses used throughout the dwelling, are distributed around the available space between the UTD's rooms and its outer skin. These are accessible from outside the UTD via removable covers in the underside of the outer skin. The cells contain a reserve sufficient to meet the UTD's full electricity demand at night and during periods of little sunshine or wind.
Within the dedicated laboratory space, around the periphery of the Laboratory-Workshop, the residents monitor and control the general operation of their dwelling and gleba. Herein also they do special projects that are of particular interest to them. Such projects are of two types:
those that are essential and common to all landshare-based dwellings and
those that are of specific interest to the particular occupiers of this dwelling.
The first type includes monitoring and control units for all the essential systems and services within the dwelling such as electrical power and lighting, heating and cooling, air circulation and filtering, vacuum services, water and waste, sound and communications, and surveillance.
The first type also includes apparatus for monitoring a multiplicity of parameters fed from sensors throughout the gleba. Among these are devices for monitoring and analysing natural resources, climate and crop health both in the field and in storage. Software is used for analysing raw data. For example, a neural network program is used to analyse the spectrum of reflected light from a crop to determine its condition and readiness for harvesting. Software is also used for analysing soil & climate to determine the best crop mixes and rotations for the particular gleba.
Particular instances of the second type of project depend on the personal interests of the residents. I would like to work on the development of a fractal architecture for a global communications network that would link all landshare-based dwellings seamlessly, rendering them immune from State and corporate invasion of personal peace and privacy.
This gleba-based dwelling is designed to be self-sufficient in maintenance and repair. Its occupiers therefore need to be equipped to keep the shell and all its systems in good repair and working order without any help from outside services. Some of the peripheral work space contains a work station with a particular speciality. Examples of different possible specialities are:
This workshop is thus equipped to maintain and repair (and possibly construct) all types of items and devices used within the farmlet. These would include:
This peripheral work space includes new forms of machine tools made of triangulated tubing of light metal alloys or strong composite materials, with mild or tool quality steel being used only for tools and hardened work surfaces. This work space should perhaps be the first space in the UTD shell to be equipped. Its facilities could then be fully utilised in the construction of the other spaces and infrastructures of the UTD.
The usage shown above for the 5 octagons and 4 squares of the UTD shell is by no means the only way the UTD's internal space could be used. For example, what are shown as the Drying Patio & Herbs Patio could be used as bedrooms and the Reception & Viewing patio could become the Herbs Patio. Thus the Bedroom could be a second Laboratory & Workshop. The Machine & Bio-recycling room could be made the central access. The Automotive and Closed-loop Bio-recycling equipment could then be dispersed under the floors and in the dead space at the four corners of the UTD, exposable for maintenance via removable panels from the outside.
The machines, appliances and active units of the UTD are, as far as is possible, distributed in a way so as to even out the weight distribution within the UTD as a whole. Notwithstanding, acceptable weight distribution for transporting the UTD from one landshare to another may require certain items to be temporary relocated and secured in designated positions within the Machine & Bio-recycling Room.
All 3-dimensional views of the farmlet and UTD in this article were generated using POVray 3.7 from POVray scripts written by me. All other illustrations were created using GIMP. Over many years I have played around with many other designs for the farmlet dwelling. Notwithstanding, the one I have described herein is, to my mind, the most practical and endearing.