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"it slowly dawned on me that the landscape of science is maybe what interests people a great deal in science fiction."
- Gregory Benford

Terrafoam Dorm Building  
  Maximum people in minimum space.  

Because no one had a window, they could really pack people into these buildings. Each terrafoam dorm building had a four-acre foot print. It was a perfect 417 foot by 417 foot by 417 foot solid brown cube. Each cube originally held exactly 76,800 people. Doubling this to 153,600 people in each building was unthinkable, but they were doing it anyway. On the other hand, you had to marvel at the efficiency. At that density, they could house every welfare recipient in the entire country in less than 1,500 of these buildings. By spacing the buildings 100 feet apart, they could house 200,000,000 people in a space of less than 20 square miles if they had wanted to. At that density, they could put everyone in the country without a job into a space less than five miles square in size, put a fence around it and forget about us...

They clustered the buildings on trash land well away from urban centers so no one had to look at them. It was a lot like an old-style college dorm. Each person got a 5 foot by 10 foot room with a bed and a TV — the world’s best pacifier...

There were no windows anywhere in the building. It was a cost-cutting measure, but it also helped to make every room identical. The ceiling height was 7 feet throughout, so it felt very small all the time. LED lights everywhere — our room was absolutely identical to every other room in the building and had a single, bare two-foot LED panel bolted to the ceiling. There was the same panel every ten feet in the hallways...

From Manna, by Marshall Brain.
Published by Self in 2002
Additional resources -

Compare to the cubic city from The Cubic City (1929) by Rev. Louis Tucker and the Todos Santos arcology from Oath of Fealty (1981) by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Manna
  More Ideas and Technology by Marshall Brain
  Tech news articles related to Manna
  Tech news articles related to works by Marshall Brain

Terrafoam Dorm Building-related news articles:
  - San Fran's Tiny Homeless

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