30 Scenes Inside an Arcology
A build a mile tall with 50,000 people in has a lot of room for action and intrigue
The top level of the arco is a heliport, capable of servicing a dozen regular helicopters at a time, or a smaller number of military tilt wing aircraft. This surface is flat, buffeted by wind from landing and launching helicopters and VTOLs, and the constant movement of a flight deck of a carrier, or a medium sized airport. There are containers of fuel, elevators large enough for said aircraft, and the level under the helipad is a series of hangars and repair bays to maintain the aircraft present. A level beneath that is the storage area for privately owned aircraft, their rotors folded and sandwiched together like sardines. The helipad is nearly always active, as it is the main mode of transit for the wealthy and the powerful, as well as government couriers and officials. Some arcologies, especially the larger ones will have elevated runways that protrude out longer than the roofline of the building. These allow for the landing of conventional aircraft. One notable arcoplex is the San Angeles Arcoplex, where LAX II is actually bridged together acoss the tops of four of the arcos in the seven unit complex.
2. The Sky Lounge
Like Ten Forward, or the Space Needle cafe, this is the most impressive view in the arcology. Thousands of feet up, this deck of the arcology is walled in entirely in synthglass and affords a staggering view of the surrounding city and terrain. The most expensive restaurants in the arco ring around this deck, along with classy bars and trendy nightclubs. This is a common meeting place of the rich and the famous, the elite and the powerful. Most residents of an arco will never see the sumptuous leather and velvet, soft lit decadence of the Sky Lounge. Formal dress required.
3. An Executive Suite
The wealthy live far above the filth and squalor of poverty that remains festering in the hearts of the old cities, looking down at the ghettos from their penthouses four thousand feet above the ground. The ceilings are soaring 12 foot affairs, with sunken in dens, decorative fireplaces, marble tubs and granite counters, decorative wallpapers and furniture made of wood and leather. The unit is for one plus one, but is large enough that it could easily house 12 people. The executive suites are owned by business moguls, industrial magnates and pretty much anyone with a legitimate sounce of sufficient income. Opulence, they has it.
4. Command Information Center
Also known as the Bridge, the Command Center, the CIC, or the Heart of the Arco, the Command Information Center is the central command and control center for the operation of the arcology, and along with the computer core and power plant, is the most secure location in the arcology. The utilities of air flow, water and power are controlled from this center, along with the operations of water recclamation of recycling centers and the scheduling of maintenance, diagnostics, and site to site communications inside the arcology. There is a regular rotation of CIC crews, and the elected/appointed mayor/director/etc of the arco is generally the senior officer on deck, to borrow naval terminology. The CIC does not control the heliport, other than to approve operations, or to order all flights shut down. It is a darkened place, lit by hundreds of screens while a cadre of civilian professionals keep the building quietly humming along without anyone noticing.
5. Computer Core
Each arco has a dedicated mainframe/computer core that regulates its operation in tandem with the CIC, as well as working as the local super server for the internet system. Most arco computers are Artificial Intelligence Super Computers (AISC) and have relatively defined personalities and represented images. These are not programmed into the computer, but something the AISC develops on its own. The main job of the AISC is maintaining and running the programs that make up the cognitive network/Synthetic reality system. The core is a large climate controlled room filled with row after row of computer hardware, blinking lights and softly humming machinery.
6. Utility Hub
Located in strategic places throughout the arcology there are dozens of utility hubs. These mechanical zones are generally access denied areas requiring special equipment or rank to enter (key card, key, biometric scan, etc). Inside there are masses of large pipes and computer controlled valve systems (water) and dozens of boxes and transformers (power). In a movie context, the hubs are excellent steam and sparks factories. The hubs are remotely controlled from the CIC or the computer core to maintain the flow of vital needs. The hubs can be accessed to maintain system integrity, such as shutting down water to an area with ruptured pipes, or to shut down power to an area experiencing a fire. The utility hubs can also be used to regulate and limit the consumption of a resource, and a common responce to civil uprisings and unrest in more authoritarian arcos is to limit or shut off power and water to hostile sections of the populace. Tampering with a utility hub is generally a felony level offense.<span bold;'=''>
7. Bachelor Double Quad
Space is at a premium inside an arcology, so the concept of cheap single occupant apartments and quarters have long ago been abandoned. Now, young arco bachelors are quartered dormitory style in 8 person residences. The unit has a single central common room and connected kitchen, two bathroom facilities, and eight bedroom facilities for privacy. The units are typically segregated by gender into male units and female units, co-ed units are rather uncommon but are very popular in terms of sitcom programs. A single 'Bachelor Deck' could easily have dozens of double quad dorms, as well as the sort of local amenities that said bachelors would frequent, such as a gym facility, convenience store, and a few Bachelor Chow-Yum! brand fast fooderies.
8. Nuclear Family Unit
The Nuclear Family consists of a married couple and two children, and the NF Unit houses this family in a three bedroom module. Like the Bachelor decks, there are often several decks of NF units with hundreds of families living in the arco version of neighborhoods and gated communities. These decks will have a number of family oriented facilities, such as playgrounds with similated skies and clouds, family friendly TGIF-Yum! brand casual eateries, and the like. The quality of the residential units varies with economic level, with middle class units being decidedly larger than low income and themselves smaller than upper middle class income. The quality of attached facilities likewise vary with income level of the deck unit. The lower income NF units can feel very crowded and access to amenities are crowded and the facilities themselves often seem quite worn. There is a cascade system that the lower levels receive their supplies and appliances from the upper levels as they are replaced. Thus the remodeled Mr. Taco on the Income Grade D level has the cooking units and counters passed down through three higher tiered locations, old and worn by the time they are installed the fourth time.
9. Commercial Shopping Arcade
This entire deck is laid out like a commercial mall, the corners anchored down by major department stores and large retailers, spaced out with smaller speciality shops, service oriented businesses, and studded with booths and kiosks. The Food Court is a completely different experience. With the vanishing of personal transit, mall shopping and the like, the restaurant business had to evolve. The fast food venues were pushed out of the food court and were replaced with the major brand outlets. Instead of the usual fair of hotdogs, burgers, and pizza on a stick, the national chains took over. Pleasanty facaded faux Tuscan italian restaurants sit across a breezeway from a faux roadside Parisian Bistro, while a short walk away the famously branded seafood franchise displays brightly colored shellfish mascots while music plays from the AmeroPubs.
10. Transit Arcade
With the demise of the personal automobile, foot travel, bicycles, and transitters like the segway became the main modes of short distance arco transit. to facilitate the movement of human traffic, there are plenty of walkways, breezeways, and foot paths for travelers. Transit between decks is facilitated by central staircase elevators, which can be quite large. Efficiency is balanced against claustrophobia, so there are actually plenty of open spaces, artificial plants in planter boxes and enclosed water displays. These transit paths are still the target of advertisers so most of the flat spaces are covered with billboards, electronic advertising displays and at confluences and roundabouts there are microvendors selling convenience goods, vending machines, and the occasional wheeled vending cart peddling local made or artisan goods. Polished brass, aluminum, shock absorbent rubber mats, and clear bioplastic panels are the norm, unless the arcade has a theme, such as the Mexico City arcoplex favors faux adobe and brushed aluminum for a Mexico! Future theme, or Neo Vegas having neon LED lit walkways and rails.
11. Arcological Park
Arcologies are the penultimate isolation of man from nature, only surpassed by space habitats. This isolation from moving wind, sunlight, and plant life is mitigated, or attemptedly mitigated by the presence of parks inside the arco. Louvered windows, open air ventilation systems, and water recirculation systems keep a living biosphere inside the building. A double deck, there are real (small) trees, bushes, grass, and flowering plants around this deck. A shallow 'lake' can be played in, and there are typical park facilities such as walking paths, pavillions, and the like. Access to the parks isn't free, as a small fee is charged to enter the park. This money is used to keep the facility up, and to deter families from using the park as a dumping ground for their children, and to keep vagrants and the poverty stricken from camping/squatting in the trees. There are usually several parks in each arcology, with the overall quality remaining the same, the parks in the lower income zones are generally much harder used.
12. Arco Transit Rail Station
Long distance travel in the arcology is handled via a light rail/sunway style system. The multiple trains travel circular paths around the perimeter of the builing. They travel mostly up and down the arco, stopping at stations scattered around the arco. The trains don't stop long at a station, and the tubes between the stations are barely large enough to hold the trains, so someone trying to travel on foot through a tunnel is likely to be squished very quickly. Functioning like a tram, the trains are the only form of rapid public transit inside the building. A ride from the base of the arco to the heliport on the top could take as long as an hour, while going up one level would be a matter of a minute or two. Most decks with rail ports (not all decks have transit stops, usually only commerical and industrial levels have stops, and perhaps one in five residential decks have a stop.
13. Air Circulation System
With so many people in a confined space, the inside of an arcology could quickly become a hot, carbon dioxide choked saunas. The air ventilation system is a large complex of fans, air coolers and heat recapturing system. Like the mechanical nodes and utility hubs, the access points to the air system are restricted areas. Inside, they are confluences of ducts, vents, filtration systems, and most impressively, the fans that move the air through the building. Many of the fans along the thermal ducts have two modes, active and regenerative. When active, they draw power to pull cool air in from the outide, and pushing hot expended air out. When the air flows because of pressure, the fans recapture the energy of the hot rising air to generate a small amount of power. This power is saved in emergency batteries and a redundant power system in case their is a power outage. The fans are strong and are not going to be stopped or slowed by anything less than a piece of structural steel.
14. Medical Center
Most major cities have a medical demi-arco in place of the medical complexes of the urban sprawl. Long term patients, in patient surgeries and the like are transported to one of these facilities, rather than each arcology having a hospital, they have several medical centers. Somewhere between a family practitioner and walk in clinic, the centers serve local non-critical needs, out patient procedures, and in the case of an actual medical emergency, agents from the nearest medical center will stabilize the patient and arrange rapid transit from the current location to the medical arco. These centers are staffed mostly by nurses, and intermediate medical professionals (not quite doctors). The medical facilities in the upper levels of the arco can and regularly do cosmetic surgery and gene therapy while the lowest level centers are volunteer staffed, or staffed via medical detention and more resemble triage units than upscale family friendly walk-ins. Again, anything major, or complex such as cybernetics, bionic implants, and major surgeries are performed at the dedicated medical arcos, and not these locations.
15. Law Enforcement Station
Law and order are vital in the situation of an arcology. With so many people in such a small area, even a small amount of dissident or violent activity can cause a major problem. These stations are scattered around the arcology, more so in the lower decks. They serve as chapter houses for arco security, as well as having a holding cell for 24 hr or less stays, as well as a small administrative area, and a secure arsenal. One of the effects of the demise of the automobile was the reintegration of law enforcement into the community. No longer able to sit, sequestered in intimidating police cars, the officers had to return to walking beats, and getting to know the actual residents and regulars of an area. As a result, the typical officer is much less heavily armed, having a stun gun, police baton, and a radio. If trouble is expected, law enforcement can be equipped with ballistic vests and pistols. In the arco, most people know the name of the officer who walks their deck.
16. Repair Center
An arcology has at times, more in common with ships than with buildings. There are damage control centers located around the building, where there is access to stored emergency supplies, such as food rations and water supplies, and access to tools that could be useful in a major accident, such as non-sparking axes, hydraulic lifting and splitting tools, emergency lights and fire fighting supplies. Between automated damage control systems and mandatory disaster preparedness training for certain individuals (structural training for men, medical responce for women) most arcologies are safe locations.
17. Detention Facility
Located deep inside the arcology, below even the slum occupied decks, the detention facility is considered one of the least friendly places inside any arcology. Police stations don't hold prisoners for more than a day or so. Offenders that require a longer stay are transported to the detention facility, a place of claustrophobic grey corridors, and cells of unfinished structural concrete and steel. Everything about the place is intended to be emotionally traumatic, depressing, and antiseptic to the point of desolation. As with the police stations, the detention facility can only hold a small number of people, and serves as a temporary holding facility. There are dedicated prisons located outside of the arcos, often in unhospitable places to deter escape attempts. Few people stay more than a week or two in the arco detention facility. Those that do make the short stay are often unwilling to repeat their offences.
18. Duplex Residential Unit
The duplex unit is a rather common housing unit, though not as common as the NF Unit or Bachelor Double Quad. The duplex unit is intended to be a residence for a childless couple, or couples who have decided to live together before marriage. Sometimes a family will take a duplex rather than a NF unit, a common option for divorced or seperated family. Bathrooms, kitchen and common rooms are shared, but each side has a bedroom and a foyer/entertaining area. It isn't uncommon for one person to lie about their social or economic status to secure a duplex unit for themselves to have the surplus luxury of room. They pass off the closed door as their roommate being on another shift, sleeping, anti social, etc. Where once idle hands were considered the devil's plaything, now it's idle space is the devil's den. Hacker computer labs, drug manufacturing facilities, and other criminal operations are almost always found in Duplex Residentials.
19. Food Center
People still require food to eat, and every meal can't be done out at a FoodCo-Yum! branded franchise. Competing grocery store chains have since faded, and instead of competing for the same market, the Food Centers are distributed by economic level. Located in commercial decks, close to residential decks, Food Centers serve the same role, distribution of foods and sundry goods. The aisles are largely the same, and the selection is also largely the same. Most food is shipped in from green towers, made from fast growing plants, harvested seaweed, seacology fisheries, and a large selection of nutrionally viable synthetic food. Fungal proteins imitate meat, while many 'vegetables' are colored and textured soy and kelp products. The higher up in the tower the food center is, the more real food is available compared to lower in the tower where synthetic is more common. Certain foods remain rare, such as beef and tree based produce,and as such command the highest prices.
20. Industrial Center
Light manufacturing, assembly, and other light industrial applications are found in almostevery arcology. Durable goods tend to be manufactured in dedicated Industrial arcologies or in the industrial centers of the old cities. Food packaging, sundry goods and other day to day products are machined, assembled and sent to the attached distribution center. There are a large number of machines here, churning out whatever product the Center produces, from razor blades to teddy bears to clothing. The distribution side has a small amount of warehouse space (most manufacturing is on demand basis, mostly due to the lack of space) as well as a station for accessing the arco rail system to recieve and send goods. This is the larger arco freight transit and is larger, slower, and it doesn't make stops except in industrial and commercial areas, behind the scenes. One of the downsides of the optimized style of manufacturing and on demand production is that when a plant shuts down for any reason, it can very quickly affect the availability of the goods it produces. The inventory kept on hand is seldom more than a few days production worth.
21. Waste Collection and Processing Facility
It is a fact that humans generate garbage and that landfills have become a spectre of the past. In the demand for raw materials most buried landfills were torn open, their contents sorted, shredded, and recycled for plastic, metal, and glass. Waste generated in residential sectors is manually delivered to a disposal point on each deck, where it is hauled downto the 'Dump Plant' while industrial and commercial waste are generally loaded out after general merchandise is received. The waste is transported to the facility where it is sorted out and the recyclable materials are are sent to their respective locations. Plastic is shredded and turned into bales of material to be shipped via maglev to wherever the nearest plastic manufacturer is, while metal is given a similar treatment but leaves in cargo containers instead of bales. Foundries and autoforges are still dangerous enough that almost all of them remain in dedicated structures, rife with industrial automation and computer controls. The waste that cannot be reused, recycled, or turned into compost/fertilizer is sent to the incineratorto be disposed of. There is some automation in the waste center, but the bulk of the work is done by hand, and it is the prime employer of arco residents in the lowest sections of the building.
22. The Incinerator
A massive furnace tapping almost directly from the power plant, the incinerator has one purpose; reduce anything thrown into it into a vaporized gaseous form. It does this very well and very efficiently. The incinerator is mostly used to get rid of noxious or toxic materials, but it is also used to dispose of bodies. One of the truths about the arcological age is the marginalizing of the cemetery. Rather than ornate coffins and headstones, the deceased are cremated. The wealthy still have access to cemeteries beyond the arco, but the cost of a funeral and a burial plot have drastically increased in cost. This has brought the Family Shrine into the occidental arcology home. Loved ones are remembered with candles, hung photographs and momentos. Days of Passing are given reverence as a sort of sombre reflection of a birthday party. The incinerator is considered one of the more dangerous jobs to have in the arco.
23. Townhome Residential Unit
The fanciest name given to the simplest of housing units, the TR Unit is a utilitarian apartment, a common room/kitchenette is partitioned off from a bedroom/bathroom and a single door access. These units are typically inhabited by poor couples, confirmed bachelors and bachelorettes, and the non children having like. The units tend to be clustered together and seldom have their own decks. They often share decks with light industry, transit maintenance systems, and similar operations.
24. Freight Terminal
All goods entering or leaving the arcology do so through the central freight terminal. The freight terminal has the largest amount of storage space in the building and serves as a customs depot, shipping distribution center, and goods warehouse. The terminal is constantly busy, as freight maglevs arrive constantly to feed the needs and demands of the arcology. The same trains leave laden down with good finished by the arco, or by the recycled materials destined for the factory arcos. As part train station, part shipping port, part inspection station, this is where illicit goods enter the arco, and where the black market gets its in. This is a tiny part of the day to day operations. The freight terminal has stations for the freight arco train and the personel train to move goods into the building, intestines to the terminal's stomach.
25. Power Plant
The third main secure point in the arcology, the power plant provides the electricity needed to keep the lights on. Arcologies do not depend on an electrical grid and instead almost all of them export electricity to power the urban congregation around them. An engineering section, the power plant is divided into a series of control rooms, access corridors, worker facilities, and the reactor itself. There are battery stations around the arco for emergency power if the reactor goes offline, and most arcos also have supplimental power from solar panels, and power recclamation from the thermal vents. Older arcologies will have nuclear fission reactors, while newer ones will have fusion, or some other advanced system.
26. Sensor Array
There are few collections of wealth greater than the concentration of an arcology, and this in times of war, makes the megabuildings primary objectives. It also makes them prime targets for terrorist organizations. The first line of defense for the arcology is the sensor bay. These small areas are packed with computers, monitors and all sorts of chemical sniffers, spectrograph equipment, and are connected to police operations. The sensor arrays and cameras are hidden from public view.
27. Para-Military Base
Not located inside the arcology, most have a para-military operation located in their shadow. Not a full military base, the base has armored personel vehicles, light armor, and facilities for VTOL aircraft. The base can be contacted by the arco administration to put down insurrection, as well as coordinating defense of the building. Arcologies that are near areas of conflict typically have larger and more robust defences. Few arcologies themselves are actively armed, as anything they shoot down would invariably crash into densely populated urban zones around them.
28. Immigration Point
People come and go from arcologies all the time, shopping in the bigger commercial arcades and frequenting the high scale eateries. But people moving into the arcology have to go through a screening process, and not everyone is allowed in. The immigration Point is a series of offices where hopeful residents file residency request forms. Attached to the immigration point is the general access where one day and three day passports are issued to people who want to visit. There are several metal detectors and entering an arco is not entirely unlike going through screening at an airport.
29. Slum Residences
The lowest levels of the arcology have been set aside for slums. Like a box of cereal, some settling may occur. Not everyone in an arcology makes it economically and rather than admit defeat and face deportation they hide in the lower levels. There is next to no law, no assigned housing, no franchied Yum! brand food eateries or sundry supplies. Instead it is a dog eat dog world, something almost out of a post apocalyptic novel. But it is a designed part of the system, and in some calloused viewpoints, just like waste water and garbage collection, there has to be a place for the human waste to be collected and stored so that it doesn't harm the rest. Getting in and out of the slum residential zone is difficult, but there are individuals who claw their way out of poverty. There are also criminals who manage to get to the slum zones to hide, if they can't get out of the arco itself.
30. Slum Arcade
The unsavory business district, the slum arcade is a sort of commercial/industrial area for the slums, where drugs and manufactured and sold, prostitutes ply their trade and the slum market runs, hiding the actual arco black market. The slum arcade, contrary to popular opinion, is fairly closely watched. So long as the poor folk just trade STDs and cheap basement drugs to each other they don't care. When things like improvised explosives, or a weaponized virus or chem bomb is sniffed out, the law enforcement show up with vests and guns.
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? Responses (4)
A very good 30.
Excellent list that works equally well in Shadowrun, or as the basic layout of a domed colony/space station.
A companion list of '30 notable arcology inhaitants' would make a great supplement as well for anyone that feels inspired.
An excellent resource for this type of location.
30 Archology plots would also tie into this one as well.
Not sure why this has gotten so little attention.
Found a very pertinent link: