Conjecture on the Production Capability of Various Industries

So based on old statistics for South Australia back in the early 1990’s, and with some heavy rounding for convenience of remembering have the following:

  1. Population approximately 1.5 million
  2. Household occupancy 3 persons
  3. Vehicles per household 2
  4. Mitsubishi vehicle assembly plant 80,000 per year and GMH 100,000 when operating at full capacity.
  5. House construction varying between 5000 and 15000 per year (so adopt 10000 as average)

This generates:

  1. Number of dwellings : 500 thousand
  2. Number of vehicles : 1 million

Now assuming population growth is zero, and continued house construction pushes occupancy to 2 persons per household. Then have 1 person in each household not yet coupled, giving 500 thousand persons from which get 250 thousand couples. If each new couple to have one house and 2 vehicles, then need 250 thousand houses and 500 thousand vehicles.

The car industry with capacity for 180,000 vehicles per year, can provide the 250 thousand couples with private space and 1 vehicle in 1.4 years. They can get 2 vehicles in 2.8 years. Whilst housing industry would take 25 years to provide the couples with one house.

A house is significantly less complex than a vehicle, therefore assume that one production facility for modular mobile housing could produce 100 thousand dwellings per year. The module should comply with the dimensions of a shipping container: approximately 2.4 m x 2.4 m cross-section and from 3 m to 12 m in length. The requirement to comply with the dimensions of a shipping container is so that do not require any special license to transport the building, and do not cause others inconvenience when does come to transporting the building. The buildings should be movable with ease.

The recommended minimum dimensions for a bed sit are 25 sq.m, which can be obtained from a building with plan dimensions of 5 m x 5 m. That is approximately achieved by 2 side by shipping containers 6 m in length. One container would provide bathroom, laundry and kitchen. The other container provides bedroom, dining and living space. On that basis one of the modules provides facilities which can be shared. Thus a one person dwelling requires 2 modules whilst a dwelling for two persons would require a minimum of 3 modules.

Therefore 500 thousand individuals require 1 million building modules, but 250 thousand couples only require 750 thousand modules. Therefore 1 production facility could supply all modules for individuals in 10 years, or for couples in 7.5 years.

Assuming an industrial city-state is 100 km in diameter and has a maximum population of 10 million, and after a disaster level event it should resupply all dwellings in less than 10 years, then it would need 10 production facilities with a capacity of 100 thousand each. Taking the technology used in caravans into consideration then 1 shipping container sized module is more than adequate for one person.

Given an estimated maximum sustainable world population of 10 billion, this may not be the upper limit, but it is larger than current and the world struggles with the current, so 10 billion is a good planning figure at this point in time. So with 10 billion people, would require 1000 industrial city states, and 10 modular housing facilities for each city-state, and therefore 10,000 production facilities worldwide. {Apparently there are currently around 17 million containers in the world.}

Note not concerned with shipping container architecture in this discussion. There is little real benefit in using a shipping container as raw material, and whilst there are a lot of abandoned shipping containers not all are suitable for reuse in buildings: and there is finite supply of such containers. The importance of a shipping container, is not the container itself but the infrastructure built around containerisation, and the infrastructure that containers are dimensioned to accommodate.

The Australian transportable housing industry for example doesn’t seem to pay too much attention to buildings being modular and transportable: and as a consequence they need licenses to block roads to get buildings transported. If stick to the dimensions of a shipping container then the building can be transported with minimum hassle. The dimensions of a shipping container should also be kept to on site: no part of the assembly should produce a permanent piece of building which is larger than a shipping container. That is no nailing, no welding, and no insitu concrete. All site connections should be based on bolting or mechanical locking mechanisms. All extra components should fold-up or dismantle and fit inside a standard shipping container.

Preferably modules should be such that the internal space is immediately useable. That is can transport the building like a caravan to a new site and get using it immediately. A significantly greater percentage of dwellings and buildings in general should be designed more like vehicles, and should not be permanently anchored to the earth’s surface. when a building is anchored to the land, then the land is wasted. People need to be mobile, and they are not hermit crabs, so they shouldn’t have to make do with what ever buildings they find at a new location.

The construction of multistory buildings is not necessary, and anything over two storeys should be restricted to the central hub of a town. The central hub of a town should not extend to more than 5 km in diameter. A town should not be more than 10 km in diameter, and the city-state no more than 100 km diameter. The external ring of a town should support flexible mobile development. The external ring should be no more than 5 km wide, and no less than 1 km wide.

Assume that an industrial city-state 100 km in diameter is divided into towns 10 km in diameter. Each town is divided into villages 1 km in diameter, and each  village divided into estates 100 m in diameter. Given circular cells with hexagonal packing, then 91 cells 10 km in diameter would form an hexagon around the size of the 100 km diameter cell. However about 3 cells over lap the circular boundary at each of the 6 apexes, therefore only have 73 cells completely enclosed by the circle. The inclusion of 73 cells holds for each of the divisions. Each 10 km town, given a city-state population of 10 million, would have a population of approximately 136,987 persons. With each village having, 1877 persons, and each estate having 25 persons. Assuming that only 1/3rd of the area of each estate is used for residential properties, then each person gets a block of land approximately 10 m x 10 m. With a block for two persons being 10 m x 20 m, whilst a house for 4 persons would be on a block 20 m x 20 m. Taking a house foot print of 5 m x 5 m for individual, then have 2.5 m boundary clearance all around.


  1. [14/10/2016] : Original