RBE Cities

So, why not break this down a bit.  After all, it's a valid thing to discuss.  How many people could you comfortably fit into an RBE circular city system anyway?  How much land space would everyone get?  A good follow up to that is how much land does someone really NEED?  In a suburban setting, you're lucky to get 1/4 an acre in your cookie cutter housing subdivision.  So, let's do some fun math and see what we get!  :)

Let's make a small city of 5 mile radius yielding 78.5 sq miles of area.

78.5 sq. mi. area = 50,240 acres. (An acre is 43,560 sq ft.)

This is 7.4 times smaller than Houston, TX, which has a population of about 2.3 million shoved in about 600 sq miles.  Remember this as we go along here.  :)

Set 25% of this area is used for parks and above ground transportation (road, rail, etc):  12,560 acres.

FYI:  For NYC, 22% of it's land is for roads (based on a 2006 report I found on land use), and that's a very TIGHT city loaded with roads, so 25% for roads and parks isn't unreasonable for a city that's not designed to be a fuster-cluck of a concrete jungle.

Set 30% for non-residential use (industry, schools, hospitals, etc):  15,072 acres.

Set 45% for residential use:  22,608 acres.

If every acre of residential land was set for a home, you'd have 22,608 homes, and at 3 people per home average, that's a population of 67,824 people.  However, that's very impractical and not everyone actually wants a home.  If "apartments" were like luxury condo's (and they would be in an RBE anyway), then I definitely would (and I know many others who would) forgo the hassle of maintaining a home and live in a luxury condo.

So, we have 22,608 acres available for residential purposes.  Let's set 60% of the that land for homes (each on an acre plot) and the rest for 40-story Condo Complexes, where each complex takes up about 8 acres on average:

60% of land gives us 13,564 acres (rounding down) for homes for 40,692 people.

40% of land gives us 9,044 acres for the Condo Complexes, and at 8 acres a Complex, this gives us 1,130 luxury complexes in the city (rounding down again from 1130.5).  Each complex has 1000 units, yielding 1,130,000 units for the city.  Each unit averaging 3 people (just like homes) yielding roughly 3,390,000 people.

Now, you might be thinking...1000 units per complex?!

Well, let's put this in perspective, the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas, which I stayed at in 2001 (thanks to an all expenses paid week long company trip) is one of the most beautiful and luxurious hotels I've ever had the opportunity to stay in.  The main hotel footprint is just over 360,000 sq feet, or about 9 acres, and it's 40-stories tall.  It hosts just over 4,000 suites, the smallest being 650 sq ft. and the largest being 2,900 sq ft.  So, if that place can host over 4,000 suites on a 9 acre plot, then a luxury apartment complex of similar size (8 acre plot) could easily host 1,000 very spacious units for people to live in, if not more, with plenty of space and amenities such that each complex is a small city in and of itself.

So, what do we have in population:  40,692 + 3,390,000 = 3,430,692 people.

So here we have a city that is 7.4 times smaller than Houston, TX, but is actually capable of hosting a population (very comfortably and not cramped at all) that is 1.5 times larger than what Houston has now!

What if I really play with the numbers and go beyond the statistical norms I ran with?  When I say statistical norms, I'm referring to 25% of land for parks and roads (not parking lots that are actually part of non-residential land, but roads, highways and railways), 30% for non-residential use, and 45% for residential use.  If you look at most cities and towns, that's an average breakdown.  And this is all from cities that grew up randomly, haphazardly, with little planning at all from the onset.  A RBE city would...obviously...be more precise and streamlined...efficient.  But for the sake of argument, let's go nuts!

50240 acres available to use:

40% land for roads and parks:  20,096 acres.

35% for non-residential use:  17,584 acres.

25% for residential use:  12,560 acres.

70/30 split for residential, 70% for homes and 30% for Condos.

Homes:  8,792 acres for that many homes for 26,376 people.

Condos:  3768 acres available. 471 Complexes using 8 acres a complex.  1,000 units a complex, giving us 471,000 units.  3 people per unit giving us 1,413,000 people.

Total population:  1,439,376

So now we have an area 7.4 times smaller than Houston that is capable of comfortably and spaciously hosting 62.5% of the population Houston hosts now.  Still ridiculously more efficient and comfortable than current systems.

No matter how you slice it, the RBE city system design can not only handle current global populations, but could easily accommodate even more people, because the city itself is designed for max occupancy while maintaining spacious living conditions at the highest levels of comfort, access and mobility.


If this were built using traditional funding via money what would the construction cost?

That's a difficult question to answer, because so many factors go into that.  What materials are being used for the buildings?  Are we using the same wasteful practices we do today, or are we using more efficient construction systems that drastically reduce manpower requirements (one of the larger costs in construction)?

The point of this analysis was certainly not to look at it from a cost perspective.  No one built NYC in one shot and thought about the cost.  This does make me wonder how much it would cost to build Houston, or NYC, or Chicago though.

Still, just for fun, here are some numbers from thin air:

8,792 homes at 300k a home ~ 2.7 billion

471 complexes at 100 million a complex ~ 47.1 billion

Add another 20 billion for support systems and additional infrastructure.

Total at 70 billion (rounded up)

To compare numbers to something real, between FY2009 and FY2010, average monthly DOD spending for Afghanistan (war) grew from $4.4
billion to $6.7 billion a month. (http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf)

So basically what we spend now for a year fighting war could build a wicked efficient and amazing city.

Hi Douglas,


That is cheaper than I first thought. So just for fun. Let's consider... :)

$70B build cost / 1.4Million projected residence = $50K per resident.

I know the overall goal of an RBE is a moneyless society. But as you have said "work with what you've got." Currently money for better or worse gets things moving at the moment.

The goal of convincing the current leaders of the world and indeed the population seems quite a big one.

Would convincing 1.4 Million with the capacity of a $50K buy in be perhaps a more pragmatic, realistic goal to achieve the building of the first city? I know many people in the Zeitgeist would not like this idea, however the end goal is would be to get real tangible progress to help push the RBE form concept to reality.

This city would then serve as tangible evidence (much more believable for more people) on the viability and practicality of an RBE?

If the earlier population number you put forward of 3.4m were used the buy in would feasible drop to ~$25K / resident.

I would think the more evidence that can be produced, the more the masses will believe and realize an RBE is a viable plan....


You pose a reasonable thought, one I myself have considered.  I think 1.4 million people is a lofty goal, but maybe a smaller scale "town" instead of a city with, say, 100k residents could be much more workable.  In a way, I think the better option would be RBE styled resorts, where people could be immersed into that way of life for a week or two (vacation) and learn how it all works.  Then when they go home, they can ask themselves why the hell they can't live that way all the time.  That's when solid public pressure will build.  :)

That sounds very interesting. And more pragmatic as a town compared to a city. How could funding be sourced? What would the build cost be for a town size?

If it's marketed as a resort, then I'm sure there are funding channels for that.  Yeah, it will have to generate revenue for the investors...but that's the price to pay to getting the RBE concept into peoples minds.

I don't know.. if it's resort we'll get drunken party guys and whole shebang. lol I've been on the cruise ships, security has to be nice with passengers it's service industry then.

Maybe it's better do put 100000 people from all sorts of fields, scientists, engineers, and so on..who will generate income themselves and direct it to improve ideas and put them to life, necessary for transition into new society model. All great things start with one step. Whats the math for 100k people? If it's like 25k$ that falls on each resident (2.5B$ total), I say we can get 100k people that share the same vision and have skills and damn money unfortunately.. Or some states that are willing to pursue social agenda like in South America, comes to my mind because of recent events with Julian Assange.


Best regards, Bob.

I have no problem with drunken party guys or girls, as long as mutual respect is of primary concern.  That will be a concept drummed constantly at the resort anyway.

We don't want to seem like some exclusive club, cuz that can turn people off.  All we expect is respect, but with the harsh reality that if you mess up, you're gone...no more vacation at the fancy place for you.  lol

brilliant thinking i want to visit that town too

Then could these resorts grow in to "towns" and then if more people come as you say for a weak or two, and eventually grow it in a city ?

That's a good thought process, depending on how much land you have to work with.  Things should always be planned to grow to a reasonable limit, and then if people want more, we just build new resorts.

Hi Douglas,

It would be interesting to try and look at, in real cities, where is the space being wasted/used
in comparison to this projection to an RBE

NY, you said you read has 22% for roads only?
Did that study include park area (only central park?), residencial area?


The document for NYC land use is easy to find.  I just googled it.  And yes, it was 22%, but I don't remember if roads included parks, or if I merged numbers to reduce the variables...that way people would understand it easier.

forgive me, but i'm just thinking "aloud" here, so to speak...

i could be wrong about this, but there's something about the "framing" of this article that seems to me to go against the very notion of a global RBE.

it would seem to me that, in a global RBE, absent nation/states and, in the interests of developing a global identity within the world's populace, the whole planet should be one gigantic city, with strategically-placed resource distribution centers, housing and transportation hubs. if such a system were in place and highly technologically advanced, one could live literally anywhere on the planet at any time. perhaps, in such a system, the traditional notion of separate cities might become obsolete, especially as technology advances.

who knows? maybe the great old cities of the past (or portions thereof) might be preserved in order to serve as museums for educational purposes.

I don't foresee it becoming like Coruscant in Star Wars, one giant city.  That would stink.  In fact, one of the main concepts is to help return the planet back to nature as much as possible and minimize our impact.

Larger cities would be like hubs, but spread out over the planet to serve specific geographical regions, like nodes of a network, but not engulf the whole planet.  And yes, old cities with their history and architecture should be preserved, and even still used if people want.  Freedom.

Coruscant would not be so bad if the surface area was 80% green space and if all its industry was ecologically mitigated.

i'm not looking for coruscant, either. i want the green planet that anon described in his/her response.

that said, what i was driving at in my comment was the point-of-view. i think in a global RBE, to foster (and reinforce) a global identity, there should only be one single city with everybody living in a "neighborhood" in that city.

that's all i was getting at. i don't want this city to look at all like coruscant. in fact i don't want much of an "apparent" built-up environment at all. and i put the stress on "apparent," cuz the environment could be "built-up" without it appearing to be at first (or second) glance.

Gotcha.  Now I understand what you mean...and agreed.  :)

Hi Douglas,
I had to comment here because as I was reading through this article it sounded as if the words were formulating in my head before I could actually read the next word on the page. Needless to say I believe we think very much alike. Then I noticed your biography and realized that we have more in common. I too am a recent ME (from UF) looking to pursue a career in the US Navy with high hopes to one day insert myself into the space exploration field. I've always been fascinated with the universe and would like to see humanity strive to make a better adaptation to the "last frontier" than we have endured in the past 50 yrs.

Thanks for the post, I'll be sure to keep an eye out for any more. 


I left out one key point to the RBE system. We live in a world that is by nature imperfect. That being said, what is your take on a grandiose RBE when it comes to safety, protection, war, and terrorism? A nuke for example would do 7.4 times more damage detonated in an RBE than say...Houston.


Oh right, it says ME.  My degree wasn't in Mechanical Engineering though.  They need to fix that.  lol.  It's Engineering Technology, Space Systems.  Aerospace Systems Engineering basically.  I preferred the hands on approach to Aerospace, and less interested in theoretical calculations from scratch, but I still took all the advanced calculus classes.  Glutton for punishment I guess.  lol.

Still, best of luck in your pursuits.  My only advice (not that you asked for it), but it would be to not go into the military if you want to go into space exploration.  You're better off getting a job at Space X, Sierra Nevada, or Virgin Galactic.  The military is more interested in burning their budgets on missiles, bombs and guns than peaceful mission to explore the wonder of the universe.

As for your added post, one of the key aspects of the RBE is that it removes the need for war and terror crap.  It's important to ask why we fight wars now to begin with?  If people actually believe it's about protection, they're full of shit.  It's about resource control, and always has been.

If you live on a planet where every human lives well, sustainably, from the moment they are born until the time they eventually move on to whatever happens after this life, then they have no need to go kill others, because they are too busy advancing their educations, their personal passions and enjoying life.  It wouldn't even cross their minds to harm others.

Yes, the world is imperfect, but that's why we educate people out of bad behavior from the onset.  Poor environments yield poor people.  Better the environment and you better the people...a notion that has already been scientifically studied and proven.  The only imperfections we should have to deal with are natural disasters and the occasional fight between two dudes over a girl (which is also a stupid act programmed into men because they think women are to be possessed like objects).  What a psychotic bunch of crap we stick into people in this world.  Gotta fix it.

what about religion people have always fought over the holy land... in this new civilization what would happen if you did have differences or is faith abolished

If you are honest with yourself and think about the people who fight over religion, they are woefully uneducated people who live in terrible conditions, and from birth are taught that their shitty life can be rescued by fighting another faith, up to and including giving their lives for it.  Make that option irrelevant (by improving real life conditions for all) and those motivations will decline.

But sometimes you just can't fix 'crazy', and the RBE system never assumes perfection.  All it asserts is that we can do a LOT better than what we're doing now.

The duality of good and evil must exist for us to understand what is right and wrong. Without evil it is impossible to define what is good. Therefore, there will always be those who are 'crazy' just like James Holmes in recent events and ideology is no exception.

There will always be opposition in mankind as long as there are differences in belief, whatever they may be. Sports is a perfect example of this. A fan of one sports team will dislike and even sometimes go to the extent of berating another fan just because they are on opposing sides. The irony is that without an opposing team there would simply be no game to play lol. The "great leveler", if you will, is education. Just like mom said when you were little, don't touch the stove it's hot. If you were educated about the stove being hot before you touched it chances are you didn't burn your hand. Unfortunately, the US education system has been taken over by bureaucratic organized crime aka the teachers union which has slowly transformed our less fortunate neighbors into utterly dependent parasites which will eventually grow large enough to kill their host. This can be seen by the recent history in the city of Chicago.

I believe that RBE's are the way of the future, there is little to argument against that. Everybody knows an organized office desk, bedroom, refrigerator or what have you is better than one that is full of mess and clutter (much like our current US cities). The main focus is educate the ignorant masses regardless of their current social status, ethnicity, or belief. The true measure of growth in mankind is learning from our failures and insisting we don't repeat them.

We have enough historical references of evil to know the difference.  Evil doesn't have to be around all the time to appreciate what good is.  I find that to be a silly argument.

You did touch on something with regards to education, from the sports attitudes (culturally taught), too many other things.  Agreed.

yes i do agree if we could get our labour free and some sort of income to cover the costs of supplies we could get this city done but we need the land and some sort of governmet aproval wich i cant see happening when its them where fighting to get out of their tumb /system of pollitic i wish it could start somewhere central and then start connecting outward to get that high speed rail system in

gotta fix it? more like this shits gotta go- jacque fresco

this is the future for sure

hi.. first i must say that zeitgeist is realy new to me. i'm going to do my best effort in increacing the awareness. anyway, can you estimate how much time it will take before we all see that kind of town actually functioning?

Something town sized could be designed and built in less than 5 years if given the right tools.  As a point of reference, luxury cruise ships take about 2 years.

by saying right tools you mean..?

sorry if i sound rude, i'm realy curious..

Tools being the proper technologies to build it fast and efficiently, with minimal human labor.  The human labor bit is what drags out the process the most.

You forgot the farms :P
or have you included it in non residential area, which seems too small
If you are considering vertical farms, then it would require heavy energy grids, very large areas of wind or solar farms (or not? )

That's part of non-residential, and it doesn't have to be all vertical, and it doesn't have to be energy intensive either.  You have to remember that every building can be a power contributor.  It can be done, if planned from the beginning, to be that efficient.

Tide goes in, tide goes out. You can't explain that.

The sad thing is that we have so many other issues to resolved before this becomes possible. I think it is impossible for us to reach a resource based economy before we have, among other things, a type of direct democracy.

Chicken and the egg thing...do you need an RBE to implement a more direct democracy (which has it's own flaws by the way if the public is uneducated), or do you need a more direct democracy to implement an RBE?

I don't think a direct democracy is necessary in the first place.  You have to analyze what people would be voting on anyway.  In a system that has, by default, all the basic life needs met to a high level for all people, what would people be voting for?  If you follow that train to its logical conclusion, you come to realize that government itself would almost be nonexistent in its traditional form, and it would evolve into something different, something we probably can't speculate on at the moment.

That's putting the cart before the horse though.  Step one is eroding the system.   And besides, I'm talking about resorts, which can exist right now, but they are resorts with a twist.  ;)

Yes I understand what you are saying, in a RBE you don't really need opinions about we should increase taxes or whatever. But I figure, if are not aware of issues, educated in science enough we will not get direct democracy which I think is really needed for the next step. The next step being RBE, because if we do not have enough awareness and educated people the same old sh1t will continue until there is either a economical or environmental disaster large enough for people to just wake up. Unless it is to late (pseudo apocalypse), well... to late is to late, so it is pretty irrelevant to discuss what happens then. My point is that if we can't even get direct democracy, then how the hell are we supposed to implement RBE since it is that much harder?! Hypothetically, it could be a natural transition, like eventually people just figure... "Who gives a sh1t about money? You wanna do it or not?!", but that would only happen if we reach a very high tech and economically wealthy within *this* system or something very similar. It doesn't really look possible at the moment, but you never know... Ben Bernanke might just stand up during a interview and say "you know what?! SCREW THIS! You know what we are gonna do instead of this bullsh1t?! Let's listen to Jaque Fresco and his friends!" ;)

Lol.  I doubt Ben would do that, but we can erode the system by having people with the right mindset start companies whose sole intent is to create sustainable systems that don't rely on money for continual operation.  Eventually people will see fewer and fewer recurring costs...less need for money...and the question then becomes, "Why the hell do we need this crap anymore?"  ;)

Indeed. Hopefully people recognized that sustainable is good for "business" in the long run. You know all those people who are so inside the system that they wouldn't know what do with them self in a system where there is no money, they are gonna fight this with all they've got and call this robo-communism and whatever. I've tried to talk to a friend who works at a bank about this, he just calls me a hippie xD

Throughout history, every movement to better the world has been met with resistance.  I find this to be no different.  Fortunately, I see more and more people recognizing that the system is broken, and that helps me get past the naysayers.

Resistance is futile!

As buckminster fuller has said most people dont know what wealth is today including the great pirates(the people with money).Until we can get this across that keeping our environment healthy is our wealth we will not achieve this before its too late.Our old living in the past is killing our future.

Hey Douglas, I've seen various footage of you around youtube and I must say you spill some interesting beans.

Btw I want to know in hope of an answer, from one with the technical capabilities as your self. Howabout Ocean cities as well?

I mean the population of humans are growing, and "soon" the planet will be out of place for both inferior living complexes and agriculture. Is this issue being adressed by anyone? And the solution I am very interested in. Especially when 3rd world countries gets " saved " and they start booming out population growth because of acquirred vaccines and increased healthcare.

I have a few thoughts on my own to share on this particulair subject.

I am from Denmark. Denmark has energy parks in the oceans ( meaning a couple of windmills )

Now I am thinking the following. ( I dont think within my own lifespan. I think what the human race needs to do, in order to perpetuate their existence in this particulair universe.. )

Windmills -> Seasteading/Venus Cities -> Fish Farms/Aquaculture -> Solar energy-> Wave energy -> ( maybe tidal energy and geothermal dependant on location ) -> Vertical Agriculture. Built together somehow, with the intent of upholding max capacity and max comfort for human living conditions. And built with the intent of locating humans from land to sea and then into the cosmos.

Is such project pheasable? Ocean cities??

Hello Kael,

Are Ocean cities possible?  Sure.  An aircraft carrier can hold about 5,000 people and all the necessary equipment for the aircraft on board.  So if that can be built, then sure, a floating city can be done in sections and then put together like Lego's.  We just have not had the need to do so.  And I don't believe we actually have to do that out of any necessity, but it would be nice to do that just because it offers more choices to the world.

Population growth is not what people claim it to be though.  I touch on this when I speak.  Statistically, and to keep this short...poor uneducated people are the ones on the planet right now that are making too many babies.  Educated people in decent living conditions maintain a reasonable balance.  Therefore, the best way to fix the population issue and have it fall into a natural balance is to educate and improve the lives of all people, which of course is what the RBE is all about.

With that said, if you crunch the numbers, the entire population of the world could comfortably live just on the continent of Africa...all 7 billion of us.  The catch now is that people are all moving to the same areas, cities near the sea, congesting the hell out of limited space, all under the umbrella of a crap socioeconomic model that basically forces them to be there to get 'jobs' to pay bills and basically live a substandard quality of life.  In the RBE, you can live a high standard of living anywhere in the world, and industry as we know it won't be exactly the same.  It would be more mobile, versatile, and less restricted to the archaic location models that have established the cities to today, which only sprang up because of a need to be near water thanks to ancient shipping needs.  We don't quite use sail boats anymore to move stuff around the world.  lol.

And one needs to consider land use.  How are we actually using land today?  Look at how much real estate is sucked up by banks and commercial shopping centers, a lot of which are empty these days.  Talk about a waste of space!  Turn all that into quality living space and viola, land issue solved.  lol.

So yes, we can do Ocean cities.  I don't see an insurmountable engineering issue with that, but I also don't think we'd build them because of a lack of space to live on the Earth.  There's plenty of room, we're just not using it right.

I am currently in my second year of schooling to obtain a degree in Environmental Resource Engineering and I personlly would love to live in an RBE community, even if it will start out small. I would sacrifice many things to get the first cities off the ground so that people all over the world can see how and why the RBE works. Canada or some other nation would probably be open to the idea of establishing some sort of Bund in the many acres of land that is near uninhabited. Especially if we can pay them initially.

Thank you Douglas for your reply :)

And Kael is my "cybernick" Realname Jannick

Well I was thinking more long term. Like in 3000 years will New York still stand? Or does it need constant renovation and the same buildings will not be there at all. And does the pyramids need renovation, and if so how much? :P

What can we build today that will echo across the centuries like the pyramids? Which could serve best as a platform for a civilization at pre-interstellar colonization. Floating cities with room for space elevators, mass drivers etc.? Im just curious if you've had any of the same thoughts and what they might be if so ? :)

Cheers from Denmark

Oh, I try not to forecast that far ahead.  There are too many things that can and will change in just the next 100 years, much less 3,000. 

Hehe invention of unforseeable tech, too much random things.. But wouldn't it be nice for the society to have a plan.. anyways Im a dreamer and I wont take up more of your time Douglas :) Keep up your good work I am sure you're very busy with your salad factories and so on :)

Cheers again :)