Microapartments for Students

Charlie Munger’s deservedly mocked plan for a university dorm with windowless bedrooms got me thinking about small studios for students. The size of the proposed Munger Hall – 156,000 m^2 for 4,500 students – is pretty reasonable for a large building housing students, provided the students get their own rooms with windows. But this raises interesting questions about building depths and apartment plans.

This post is best read as a companion for my posts about building depth and a high-density euroblock design. In the post on building depths, I argued that the higher ratio of apartment area to window frontage ought to be understood as an adaptation to larger apartments for wealthier people than those who lived in the cities of 100 years ago. This post can be seen as a practical demonstration, illustrating the limits of deep buildings in the use case of microapartments for students.

The parameters of student housing

Student housing has specific needs:

  • Students have little disposable income, so space per capita is likely to be limited. Microapartments of 20-30 m^2 are reasonable, and in some cases they can even be smaller.
  • University is a deracinating, equalizing institution, so a high level of uniformity of design is desirable, making modernist forms more palatable than for middle-class families. Nor is there much worry about intrusion and criminality, since the students form a community. In this sense, university is akin to the military.
  • Unlike the military, university as an institution promotes individualism, and has no need for communal barracks. Social spaces are desirable, but the priority should be on individual living space.
  • Students are young and sexually active, and in recognition of that, high levels of privacy are desirable. Not only should students get individual rooms (which is also useful for minimizing respiratory infections), but also they should have their own bathrooms, showers, and kitchen facilities.

Those requirements interact well with the high-density euroblock (or courtyard building) form I’ve pushed before. Munger speaks of fixing the mistakes made by modernist housing, name-checking Le Corbusier – but the social problems of modernist towers were specific to deracinated working-class families, and not students. When people criticize modernist design of universities, it’s not about the modernist style of student housing but about hostile architecture for class and administrative buildings designed to quell student riots.

The euroblock

The euroblock is a form of housing common in Central and Northern Europe, in which residential buildings enclose an internal courtyard. Bigger cities, like Berlin, traditionally had many interior courtyards to a block, overlooked by interior wings with a view of the courtyard but not the street; smaller and richer cities tend to have bigger courtyards and no wings, and much of Berlin has demolished the wings in the postwar era as well. Here’s a wingless example from Stockholm:

The width of the building in this case is exactly twice the ratio of apartment size to window frontage, ignoring internal corridors. This building has a width of 14.6 meters, which is pretty typical for the wingless forms; winged ones are shallower, since the corners of the wings are windowless, in all cases producing a ratio of about 7.5 m. Some higher-end buildings, including some newer North American condos using the courtyard design, go up to a width of 20 m, for a ratio of 10 m.

Populating the euroblock with student housing

The proposed Munger Hall at UCSB is to sit on a site of about 120*120 meters, so let’s start with that. Munger Hall is to be solid with no interior courtyard because the dorm rooms are windowless; to have the same floor area, we need to go taller, but that’s no obstacle for our purposes. Let’s consider both a 20 meters deep design and a winged 15 meters deep one.

The light gray at the outer corners represents social spaces with corner windows; the windowless inner corners are four elevator lobbies, the high capacity necessary due to the high density of the design and the synchronized class times. If units are 2.5*10 in theory, and closer to 2.4*9 in practice, then we get a unit per 2.5 m of window frontage, which is 288 per floor (interior sides are 80 m long, exterior ones 100 m); a total of 81% of floor area is student apartments, which is low by high-rise standards, but we’re deliberately giving the outer corners to social spaces, and with the corners added back in it’s a healthy 86%.

Note that the courtyard in the middle is massive. Any larger and half of it would be a regulation football pitch. So let’s add wings, and also add function spaces in the interior corners created by the wings, possibly sacrificing some adjacent units for windows for the function spaces.

Still at one apartment per 2.5 m of window frontage, we now have 352 units per floor, but also our efficiency has dramatically fallen – only 73%, and if we add the four exterior corners back it’s still only 77%. This is only desirable if massive function spaces are important – and those can then cannibalize the near-corner apartments for window space. This is very much an upper limit to the building depth – it averages a ratio of 11.25 m.

Let’s now look at a 15 m deep design with even more wings:

Everything is scaled down for the shallower building, but that’s okay – 7.5*7.5 still makes for a staircase with some elevators, and the four interior areas can have as big elevator banks as needed. Let’s say that, ignoring corridors, apartments are 3 1/3 m by 7.5, and in practice more like 3.2*6.7. We have three apartments per 10 m of window frontage, so a total of 340 per floor. We can even squeeze more apartments this way, by offsetting the courtyard-facing apartments by one, so that there are not six to a 20 m courtyard frontage but seven, with the outer two only having half the window space, giving 376 units, at 78% efficiency. As we will see below, window width is not the constraining factor – historically, masonry buildings had small windows. Nonetheless, the courtyards are small enough that a building of about 15 floors would have a high ratio of height to courtyard size, without much direct sunlight.

Apartment plans

To be very clear, this is austere student housing. People who are not students would only live in such conditions in situations of very high housing prices, such as what I experienced in Stockholm. Here is what I might mock up of 2.5 by 9 or 3 1/3 by 6 2/3:

The elongated floor plan turns the studio’s left side into a kind of corridor, and the longer the unit, the more space is wasted on said corridor. The version on the right can fit a mini-fridge doubling as a bedside table next to the bed; the version on the left can too but a foot-side table is less convenient (this is how my grad school dorm room was set up due to lack of alternatives). Both apartments can set up a stove and kitchen sink; the natural location is below the table (to the right from the perspective of someone sitting in the chair). But the version on the left can only do so by eating into free space to move around in, where the version on the right doesn’t.

This is a matter of length-width ratios and the long corridor forcing the door to be on the short side. This is why high-end apartments can maintain the depth on the left without a problem – a middle-class one-person apartment is 40-50 m^2, so around double the micro-unit depicted above. A building designed around such studios would have the floor plate of the wingless 20 m euroblock but with half as many apartments, and then there’s ample room for everything with enough left to move around. Such a larger unit can even be set up as a one-bedroom, with the bedroom taking half the window frontage.

Note also that this problem of elongated microapartments doesn’t affect bedrooms in family dwellings. A family dwelling can be set up with rooms fronting 2.5 m of window space but with doors on the long side coming in via a central living room, which means there’s no need for a long corridor for access to the bathroom and the bed.

59 comments

  1. Basil Marte

    “Unlike the military, university as an institution promotes individualism, and has no need for communal barracks.”
    According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barracks#United_States
    “In the 21st century, these service members are generally housed in individual rooms conforming to the DoD’s “1+1 standard””
    i.e. the actual military is at least trying to use the same form as many college dorms.

    • Korakys

      As far as I am aware communal barracks are only used in the (more intense) recruit phase of training, which usually lasts about 3 to 5 months. Thereafter it might be pair rooms (depending on what is available) but is more often individual rooms.

  2. Anton Babadjanov

    I think the middle option strikes the best balance between density and light access. I just posted a comment on another article but actually wanted to post here. A while ago I did in-depth research on how natural light affects human psychology AND physiology. And it’s far more important than one might think. E.g. schoolchildren in classrooms lit with natural light have higher test scores and hospital patients in sunlit rooms recover faster and require less pain medication. This is all peer-reviewed research, not anecdotes.

    I published my analysis here (also tied to tower spacing regulation, which was being discussed in Seattle at the time):
    https://www.theurbanist.org/2016/05/20/natural-light-in-buildings-nimby-rhetoric-or-livability-staple/

    I post this so that natural light isn’t considered a “nice to have”. It’s not. It’s an absolute must have that is no less important than, say, fire safety, for example. It’s not always intuitive to people since the negative effects of living in a space with poor light are typically delayed – e.g. deficiencies in hormone production won’t affect one immediately but only after running out of reserves. So for an individual this may become apparent months after moving to such a space, and many people don’t properly attribute it to the move by that point.

    I do get that we need to build more housing and this is an inconvenient hurdle, but it can’t be ignored. We must ensure that even the cheapest housing provides a healthy environment to live in and that light isn’t a luxury (since health is not a luxury).

    • Borners

      Yeah graduate students have enough depression triggers in their lives, without light-deprivation. Are there good studies comparing different building/street layout types.

      The Japanese have had a lot of these problems. With explicit Nisshouken “sunlight rights” have emerged, starting from a seminal Supreme Court decision in the 1970’s. Like the rest of the Japanese zoning system these relatively simple and explicit. For example my small suburban ground-floor Chiba apartment had two sides of room-width wide windows to compensate for an adjacent building blocking early morning sun.

      But more interesting is that the 1990’s Urban Renaissance reforms which permitted a lot more high-rises also made light-units tradable, keeping adjacent plots low rise in order to make a building next door tall. The most famous case being the high-rises next to Tokyo station where JR East redeveloped the station area by trading sunlight angles above the station with other developers. It is yet another reason why a lot of suburban Tokyo stations generally have one or two high rise manshon buildings looming over the station. (Yay Neoliberalism!).

    • Alon Levy

      So, bear in mind that even the multi-winged design with the smallest courtyards still has bigger courtyards than is typical in Berlin. But then the target height is higher, so you’re right that 20 m may not be enough.

      Re direct light, do you know if orientation matters? In other words, at a building with a lot of natural light and a real view of its surroundings, will equator-facing windows produce better outcomes than pole-facing ones? Or is it just a distinction between natural light and New York-style light wells (which is what I had for two years in grad school, which sucked)?

      • adirondacker12800

        In New Law tenements it’s an airshaft. The Victorians were obsessed with ventilation. You want sunlight use the rooms at the ends of the building. It can be very creative.

  3. Henry Miller

    The biggest worry for the school is students rebel and refuse to move in, thus forcing them to spend money to tear this down and build something else. The school could send a powerful message by saying ‘no’ to a large amount of money, and the only students who will fall for this are falling in the cracks of too rich to get poor scholarships, too poor to get a silver spoon for the family, and frugal enough to not mortgage their future on large loans.

    (Grades and student health are important, but schools can ignore that if they want, it might hurt students, but schools and students ignore those all the time)

    • Luke

      Munger’s giving a large amount of money, but it’s still less than 20% of the seemingly inflated-American-construction-cost-scale $1.5 billion project. Why on Earth UCSB is entertaining this person’s comically dystopian “architectural” dream is beyond me.

        • Yoqv

          Why is everyone is calling it Munger’s building? I am sure he is not the architect.

          • Alon Levy

            Because the design is his; he’s giving UCSB 13% of the cost on condition his design be followed to the letter.

      • Mark N.

        The UM building is a residence hall for graduate students and contains small groups of individual rooms, each of them with their own baths. Each group of these suites has its own large, windowed living area so basically anyone living there steps out of their room into a naturally lit space. The whole building houses just 630 students.

        The UCSB project bears little resemblance to that. There each group of eight rooms is just a piece of a massive block that includes seven more such groups, which together all share a living area on a windowed portion of the exterior wall. Someone living in one of the innermost groups would step out of their room into the group’s windowless common area and from their into the hallway connecting the entire block — and still be over 200 feet away from the nearest window! And 4500 students are expected to live this way!

    • Diego

      Same. Even 20 m2 would seem luxurious to me as a student. In Brussels it was common to rent a 15 m2 room, and renting your own 15 m2 *apartment* (with your own kitchen space) would be fancy. The latter option was only possible on-campus though, this isn’t Paris.

  4. Phake Nick

    Bathroom and shower maybe helpful, but Kitchen? There are certainly people who prefer to cook themselves but I don’t think there would be too much who would have cooling as hobbit sacrificing time of learning, socializing, entertaining with each others, and that most would probably use restaurants of some sort.

    Also, we have some apartments like this in Hong Kong, for single working individuals. 300k USD for a ~130 square feet (12 m^2) apartment.
    [img]https://i.imgur.com/4myVmFj.png[/img]

  5. Sassy

    You can make the apartments a lot smaller:

    1. You don’t need such wide beds. The rooms are intended for one person to live in. Yes college students have sex, but college students also have sex in twin beds.

    2. Undergrads, especially Freshmen, who are disproportionately likely to live in dorms compared to older students, suck at cleaning (at least in the US). Dorms therefore should have communal bathrooms with professional cleaning staff.

    3. The cleaning thing means that kitchens should also be communal and professionally cleaned. In addition, a lot of students don’t cook, or cook socially, which means private kitchens are a waste.

    Basically all you need is a closet with a desk, bed, and window. And good communal spaces.

    • Matthew Hutton

      Putting in a 2 ring induction hob, plus microwave with grill plus a sink doesn’t take up a lot of space to be fair.

      • adirondacker12800

        The stereotype in old movies is that the landlady screeches at the boarders because they are using a hotplate or the house mother is screeching at the sorority sisters because they are using a hotplate. Give then someplace kitchen-ish they can plug the electrical devices into the dedicated circuit that is over the stainless steel fireproof counter. Because they are going to do it on the desk if they don’t have a dedicated space.

  6. Alex Cat3

    As a college student, I have no problem sharing a stoveless room with someone else. I would think that having all single rooms would pretty dramatically increase housing costs (though of course those are a small part of US college tuition)

    • Alon Levy

      The space per student of what I’m drawing is the same as Munger Hall, it just offers way better privacy. And the Munger Hall construction cost is 2.5-3 times the norm for California residential construction anyway…

      • Sassy

        I believe the point of Munger Hall is to provide lots of communal space, which is why there is a lot of space per student, if much less private space per student. The idea is to encourage students to socialize, without completely denying them of private space. This is the opposite of some dorm designs that provide little wide area communal space, but completely deny student privacy by forcing them to share a bedroom with 1-3 other students.

        Students simultaneously have a lot of room to socialize with friends of their choosing, and have enough space to themselves to really focus on studying, or have sex without tying a sock to the door.

        I think that is actually a really good goal for student housing, even if the implementation has big issues.

        • Phake Nick

          Problem is, in University dormitory, you don’t get to choose who will be your roommate and who you want to interact with. So communal space being provided in the form of living/dining space of traditional apartment, wouldn’t work well in dormitory setting.

          • Sassy

            That’s why the communal space is shared between more people. The dining/kitchen space shared with 8 means that just having a friend or two over isn’t too invasive to the other people in the cluster. The living space being shared across the floor means that who you hang out with in that communal space is basically up to you.

            It’s not perfect, however, I think it’s an improvement over classic double/triple/quad dorm rooms.

          • Phake Nick

            Better make it a shared hall at each floor or a communal library/garden.
            8 people is too small a size of random group to guarantee everyone can find their satisfying place in the common area and too easy to form smaller groups that would exclude others.
            The common space need to be large enough or be positioned in a way that, people can interact with other they choose to, not others who are being put together through lucky draw.

  7. Paul

    A windowless dorm room sounds awful, even if you only sleep there. I like sleeping with the windows open (weather permitting), and sunlight is an important subconscious cue that it’s time to get up.

    Your layout ideas look good, but the units could be a little smaller. In grad school, I lived in a 12 m^2 studio that was adequate. Picture the floorplan on the left with a kitchenette opposite the bathroom as you walk in, and a twin bed on the long wall opposite the desk. There was also a little cafe table with two (folding) chairs. Fine for a single person, but the one downside is it’s hard to have people over.

    The other student housing configuration that was common when I was in school was 4-bedroom apartments with single rooms and shared bathrooms/kitchen/living room. Works fine as long as you get along with your roommates (a big if), and easier to have friends over since the common areas are spacious.

    • Mark N.

      I agree. As a grad student, I also lived for two years in student housing in a 12 m² single with a twin bed. I had my own wash basin, but shared a kitchen, toilets/showers, and a living area with the eight other students on my floor. It was a perfectly fine set up.

      For beginning undergrads, I also see no reason why multiple-bed arrangements should be eliminated from consideration. It was the standard when I was in college (and is still pretty common AFAIK).

      • Alon Levy

        For beginning undergrads, I also see no reason why multiple-bed arrangements should be eliminated from consideration.

        Privacy, basic living standards, public health, quality of sleep… just because you had to walk to school 10 miles in 5 feet of snow uphill both ways doesn’t mean everyone should.

        • Mark N.

          Given the much greater sensitivity to gender and sexuality issues nowadays, it probably really does make more sense to go with singles. I still think each room could be a good deal smaller, however.

  8. Reedman Bassoon

    The reason for this dorm design is that Santa Barbara is a very exclusive area. Every proposed new dorm has been shot down by the local NIMBYs. The cost of land and construction is reflective of being close to people like Oprah, Ellen Degeneres, and Harry/Megan. The 11 stories height is also reflective of the locale. UCSB needs to shoehorn as much housing into this modest space as possible. The rooms will supposedly have portholes (like on a Disney cruise ship?) .

    • Alon Levy

      1. It’s a state uni, the locals don’t get a veto – and UCLA just built a student dorm that’s not compliant with city zoning.
      2. So much space is wasted on not-rooms that the building has 35 gross m^2/student, i.e. about comparable to actual housing density in Tokyo (37 gross), Seoul (32 net), and Paris (31 net), all of which give people access to their own windows.
      3. The design deliberately gives the windows to not-bedrooms.
      4. There are two nonresidential floors, so it’s not even optimized on limiting height.
      5. The construction costs aren’t just high by European standards – they’re higher than those of recent luxury supertalls in Manhattan, and about 3 times higher than the norm for new non-supertall residential construction in New York and California. You need to go to especially fancy buildings like the Apple HQ or total shitshows like 1 WTC or Hudson Yards to get higher per-m^2 costs.

      • Reedman Bassoon

        In California, the local folks, and other entities, have a LOT of power over what the university can and cannot do.

        –… the dorm building will allow the university to meet its goal of building housing for 5,000 students by 2025, a promise made in the 2010 Long Range Development Plan contract with the city of Goleta and Santa Barbara County.

        The Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors was in litigation with the university last month due to allegations of the university violating the LDRP contract, but did not report any action after its closed-session talk in early October.

        The city of Goleta announced on Friday that it plans to sue the university over the shortage of student housing.

        —–
        The building has to be approved by the California Coastal Commission — a group that famously has essentially unlimited power when it comes to the oceanfront.
        ——
        The building is not allowed to use natural gas for heat or food preparation, because it is a verboten energy source in California now.
        —–

        Have you tried to put an addition on your house in California? I have. Sacramento will shut down your plans if you have too many windows, because more windows, on the average, cause higher energy costs. If you have windows, you are required to have expensive “daylight harvesting” controls to forcibly turn off the lights if the sun is shining. And don’t get me started about the required “occupancy sensors” that turn off the lights if they don’t “see” someone in the room ….
        [P.S. Sacramento regulations for stairway lighting are almost criminally bad, in order to get energy use to a minimum …]

        ————
        Yes, there is space for not-rooms. Yes, the students will have things like:
        a fitness center, a demonstration kitchen, a café, a market, other retail space, a full-service restaurant,
        a recreation room, a reading room, conference rooms, music practice space, a lecture hall ….
        The first floor will include student services, classrooms, utility rooms ….
        ——
        Have you been to Berkeley? Legally, People’s Park is owned by the university. The university wanted to build student housing. But then the excrement hit the ventilator:
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People%27s_Park_(Berkeley)

        • Matthew Hutton

          Is this a joke? I mean LED bulbs use almost no energy – even 1500 lumen ones only use 15W. And computer controls might not use much energy but it’s not zero.

        • Matthew Hutton

          Using heat pumps/induction for cooking in a new build in California in 2021 seems pretty sensible though, so it’s a mixed bag.

          • Matthew Hutton

            Eh. I’d rather live somewhere with too strict building control than not enough. Houses in the UK built since the 1930s wouldn’t have had their pipes freeze like the ones in Texas did after a couple of days of cold weather plus a lack of electricity.

    • Mark N.

      The 11 stories height is also reflective of the locale.

      This is in not anywhere close to the truth. The highest buildings on the UCSB campus only go to about eight stories. The university’s landmark, Storke Tower, is the highest structure, and even it would just be 16 feet taller than this monstrosity. The campus also lies several miles outside of the city center, with only low-rise businesses and residential buildings in its direct vicinity.

  9. Herbert

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with shared kitchen facilities and as a matter of fact most student dorms in Germany provide individual bedrooms with shared kitchens… Bathrooms are shared in some cases, individual in others, but individual kitchens are the exception, not the rule.

    • Sascha Claus

      One should mention that less than 10% of German students live in dorms, according to the Studentenwerk. 32% live in their own flat, 50% in shared flats or with their parents and 18% in “single rooms with shared corridors”.
      I assume that 9.45% dorms are hiding within the last 18%, as the numbers would be more than 100% otherwise. The remainder of the 18% might be dorms not run by the Studentenwerke.

  10. Eric2

    As far as I can tell, this post does not once mention the height of the building. You can build a building on this plan where everyone gets a window, and if the building is 1 story tall everyone will get lots of light, but if the building is 20 stories tall the inner lower-story apartments will always be dark even if they have a window.

  11. Sascha Claus

    Curious why the natural location of the kitchenette would be at the window? I’d put it close to the bathroom, so that both can tap into the same water and sewer piping without having pipes along the whole room. (There exists a widespread collection of examples for this practice.)

    • Alon Levy

      To brace the bed against the corner created by the bathroom. There are other configurations, sure; for what it’s worth, the apartments I’ve lived in don’t generally put the kitchen next to the bathroom(s), but maybe they have unusually high construction costs, I can’t tell from the position of paying market rate in supply-constrained cities.

      • adirondacker12800

        You don’t want me to pull out dozens and dozens of videos of apartments where the kitchen sink is against the bathroom wall. So they can use the same plumbing. Which is cheaper.

      • adirondacker12800

        How many people do you know who sit in the sink to bask in the sun? If being near the window is important you put the stuff where people spend the most time, when the sun is out, near the window. Like the desk and the couch.

        • Matthew Hutton

          Yeah I mean this is a micro apartment for students not a kitchen in a multi-room apartment for adults.

  12. Kamoro

    You can have corner units with windows by having the walls of the courtyard recede at the corners, for example like they’ve done here https://www.google.com/maps/@34.0615142,-118.2454146,97m/data=!3m1!1e3 or here https://www.google.com/maps/@39.7569162,-104.999003,101m/data=!3m1!1e3. That space can then be subtracted from the courtyard’s area, because those cutouts also provide additional paths for light to enter the courtyard.

    The campus also neighbors an airport, so building that tall may or may not get approved by the FAA.

    • Misha

      For the LA example – you can and it’s maybe good for ventilation and some light into bedrooms in larger units. But would you want to have the only windows of a unit facing a blank wall 1.5 m away?
      The Denver one is better and more typical. It’s better but still does not provide ideal conditions. The geometry also makes it hard to make work with the very space-constrained units typical to student housing.

      • Kamoro

        Awkward as the Denver example may be for small units, it beats the hell out of letting that space go unused. It can still be emulated with rectangular units, by varying the dimensions so that units in the corner are shallower and wider.

        The LA plan is much less awkward for uniform units, and while it gives some people crappy views, the more crucial purpose of windows (besides fire rescue, though that’s irrelevant past the 3rd floor) is the natural light and its associated circadian rhythm and mental health benefits.

        • Misha

          I agree there are ways to improve the corner situation. But to the extent that we can have fewer interior corners by going higher (because there is better building separation), that should be the priority.

  13. Misha

    The third configuration with 9 courtyards is too dark if you go above 7 storeys or so, and the floor plan too inefficient. Using the windowless internal corners makes sense for service areas, but not communal areas. The communal areas are also too dispersed to make sense.
    I would take that configuration then break it into two courtyard buildings by eliminating all the horizontal wings (4 in the middle, 2 in each of the two building). Then you get only a little area that’s only good for servicing, and can go much higher because the courtyards are well lit, and as a bonus you have a street-like area in the middle. If you want more communal area, you can have larger floor plates a the ground and provide light by using skylights.

  14. Krist

    Single rooms with common bathrooms and kitchens (and living room) is pretty much how it was the universities I studied at (in Europe). The idea of two persons in one room in university housing always struck me as a particularly odd US habit. Two people share one room only if they are romantically involved…
    The idea Munger has, of creating units of a certain number of single rooms that share common spaces is thus in itself not bad.
    But not having a window is a non starter.

    • onodera

      A two-bed and a three-bed room sharing a bathroom plus a communal kitchen/laundry room at the end of the corridor, that’s what my European university’s dorm looked like.

    • Eric2

      The good: 1) It’s open, yay! 2) It’s elevated, saves construction costs, especially given the likely water issues underground.

      The bad: 1) Platforms appear to be only 100m long, that is pretty low given the likely eventual level of crowding, though I guess extending them should be relatively cheap above ground. 2) The future network plans are a mess. Why do lines dead-end in the city center rather than running through across the metro area? Why are there so many circumferential lines that take weird loopy routes? Why are lines sparse in some areas, but dense in other areas that appear not to be major travel destinations?

      • Sascha Claus

        Maybe the lines dead-end because there are more lines coming from one direction than the other? Or there is nothing if importance?
        Maybe the lines are loopy because Hanoi doesn’t have a strong downtown?
        *opens up Google Maps*
        The gold line dead-ends at the lake, the green line dead ends at the citadel/temple—both diffcult to cross if youre running elevated along a major arterial. Existence and lack of arterials or expressways suitable for El’s seemed to be the main consideration for routing. You can trace many of the coloured lines on the future map by the big roads. Except the velvet (the reddish-brownish northeast-south one) and silver lines, which follows an existing railway row. Mostly (if not completely) single track and surface running, partially in the middle of a road and sometimes through narrow alleys. ^_^

        • Eric2

          Yes, most of the lines follow arterials or expressways. But a number of arterials/expressways exist in central areas which were not used, even though they could have easily filled gaps in the network.

          The green line dead-ends in an unremarkable area about 1km from the citadel/temple – if it were continued it wouldn’t get much closer. It would however pass by a small military base, but I imagine secrecy issues (if any) could be addressed by a cheap wall next to the tracks. In that case, the green and gold lines would still end at the lake (and continuing over/under the lake does not seem worthwhile). But many cities have this issue, and the solution is for the two lines to form an X and each continue along the shore in opposite directions. In that case, the complete loop of the blue line would thankfully cease to exist, and the green line take over the northern blue axis.

          The reverse branching of the purple line is another big flaw. Half the frequency to the central segment is wasted.

          There are a number of other big flaws that are hard to illustrate without a diagram.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.