Investor Charlie Munger cross-border construction, donated 200 million US dollars to build a “windowless” building

A window is a way of looking at the world.

Whether it’s on the high-speed train during travel, or sneaking a glimpse, the window always brings us “novelty”, and our emotions are also carried away by the green mountains and green mountains, and children who are playing, gain peace and happiness.

Even in space tourism that costs millions of dollars or even tens of millions, people spend tens of millions just to see the mysterious orchid planet and feel its grandeur and vitality.

▲ The space tourism of tens of millions of dollars a ticket uses the huge windows and the beauty of the earth as one of the key points of publicity

The windows are bright and clean, which is one of the must-have items in almost everyone's decoration list.

One of the world's most successful investors, billionaire Charlie Munger, doesn't think so. "Cross-border" architecture is one of his hobbies. He proposed a radical architectural design-a windowless apartment .

▲Charlie Munger and friend Buffett. Picture from: CNBC

When money is no longer an issue, why do billionaires do subtraction on the "window"?

a pioneering experiment

In university apartments, the living conditions may not be very good. It is a common phenomenon for many people to live in the same room, but the compactness and restrictions in this design have also deepened the connection between people.

Charlie Munger's building plans also started with college apartments, and last year he said he would donate $200 million to UC Santa Barbara for the construction of a new campus apartment, Munger Hall, with the only requirement being "windowless". design".

▲The planning map of Munger Hall, the total construction cost is estimated to be about 1.5 billion US dollars

According to the building plan, Munger Hall covers an area of ​​1.68 million square feet, is 11 stories high, and can accommodate up to 4,500 students, and each student can live in a single room.

Beds, cabinets, tables and other basic tools are readily available in the room, with an average of 8 rooms in a group, with dedicated public facilities, including kitchens, laundry facilities, public tables, and even game areas.

The ground floor of the apartment is also equipped with public facilities such as a large fitness room, a study room, a restaurant, and a courtyard.

▲ Each group of rooms has public facilities such as kitchen

Compared with many campus apartments, this one built by Munger's donations has a decent performance in terms of infrastructure, but the biggest drawback is that there are no windows.

After the announcement of the building plan, there was a huge controversy. People worried that living in a windowless environment for a long time would affect mental health and cause various diseases. Even a well-known architect who participated in the construction project, Nice McFadden, for the This resignation:

Not supportive from my perspective as an architect, parent and human.

Asking individual rooms to ditch windows is more of a "pioneering experiment" than a radical design.

▲The planning of Munger Hall includes a public sports area

The windowless design is related to the increasingly tight housing supply and demand around UC Santa Barbara, and students can't easily find affordable and close homes.

Munger hopes to make the entire apartment more compact with a windowless design to save costs.

And the apartment is not completely without windows. In order to ensure basic ventilation and air circulation, the common area of ​​8 rooms is equipped with windows. Students can come to the common area and feel the real natural light.

In the private room, Munger also asked for "artificial windows".

▲ The windows at the top are not real

The artificial window design originated from Disney. This is not a real window, but a fake window that simulates light sources such as sunlight, but the degree of realism is high, and people can even control the type of light at any time, noon, evening, and seaside.

The intentional restrictions in the design are actually to make more connections between students. The popularity of Internet entertainment services has made many people addicted to the virtual world. Short videos, streaming media, and games are actually real exchanges between people. Fewer and fewer.

Without windows, students will have to go out to the common areas, get out of their personal silos, reconnect with people, and inspire thinking and collaboration.

▲ Munger Hall floor plan, each floor is composed of multiple suite groups

Subtracting architectural design, Charlie Munger tries to create a new community environment that strengthens the connection between people.

What do the people who live in say

This is not the first time Munger has tried a "windowless" design. Before the University of California, Santa Barbara, the windowless design had been realized at the University of Michigan. Munger donated 110 million US dollars to build graduate apartments, so this building also Known as the Munger Graduate Residence.

In August 2015, the Munger graduate student apartment was officially opened, and now many people are living in it. How do they think about the windowless design, and does it really affect their mood and health?

▲Windowless room in Munger's graduate apartment. Image from: mlive

The media Fastcompany interviewed several students who had lived in Munger's graduate apartment and answered with their actual living experience.

Esi Hutchful, one of the first students to move into the Munger Graduate Residence, said the main reason for moving in was proximity:

From the video and pictures, it seems that the living environment is good, so I went there, and it is still in the city center and very close to the campus.

There's even a private bathroom, and I wouldn't leave even if there were no windows.

▲ The single bathroom in Munger's postgraduate dormitory. Image credit: mlive

As for the question of whether the windowless design will bring about a problem, Esi Hutchful's answer is yes, whether it is day or night, the lights need to be turned on, which consumes more power resources.

But the windowless design also did push Esi Hutchful to the public area, connecting with people from different disciplines such as statistics and engineering, and making more friends.

Esi Hutchful is not recommended for those who love sun or natural light.

▲The public area of ​​Munger's graduate student apartment. Image from: mlive

Hassan Kobeissi once shared his experience of living in Munger's graduate apartment on YouTube. One of the troubles brought by the windowless design for him was "not being able to distinguish between day and night".

No windows means no natural light, and the biological clock may be affected, so Hassan Kobeissi bought an alarm clock.

Hassan Kobeissi 's room

As for whether the lack of natural light can cause psychological problems, the results vary from person to person, Cortney Sanders said that although there is a certain emotional low tide, it is not caused by the windowless design, but the climate:

This is Michigan, and whether it's winter or spring, it's snowing outside and it's extremely cold.

Emma Smith, who has lived in Munger's graduate apartment for two years, said that she did not adapt well, and the lack of natural light made her unable to distinguish between day and night:

After turning off the lights, it was pitch black and there was no natural light to wake up, it was like being in a prison.

After living for a long time, Emma Smith's insomnia problem became worse and even caused depression. She tried to use special artificial lights to simulate natural light sources like other students, but to no avail.

Finally, after multiple applications, Emma Smith moved out to a house with windows in the same building and re-bathed in the sun:

Aside from the windows, the facilities at the Munger Graduate Residence really make it a great place to live.

a new option

The design of Munger Hall is not perfect, it is just a new option proposed in the housing crisis.

The windowless design and compact layout reduce the number of exits, and have higher requirements on the communication and drainage facilities of the entire building. The smaller-scale Munger graduate student apartment, which also adopts the windowless design, had a water leakage problem.

When it rains, there will be water accumulation in the corridor from time to time.

▲ "Prison" in "Squid Game"

When the Munger Hall construction plan was released, some people called it a "student prison", with no windows and no natural light, which is very similar to the solitary confinement of the prison, all in a dark environment.

Some people even criticized that the design of Munger Hall is not as good as that of a prison. It is mentioned in the third edition of the American "Prison Design Guide" that under ideal conditions, architects need to ensure that the cells and lounges have sufficient natural light when designing a prison, which helps Improve physical and mental health.

Even disciplinary prisons for punishment should meet this condition.

▲ Picture from: "The Shawshank Redemption"

It is not that Munger did not think of these problems. Unlike Munger's graduate apartment, Munger Hall plans to introduce "artificial windows" to simulate natural light to solve the problem that people cannot distinguish between day and night.

There are many factors that affect mental health, which requires long-term tracking and statistics of more residents. More importantly, there are indeed many people who go to public areas to experience natural light due to the windowless design.

The original intention of the windowless design is to solve the housing crisis. First-tier cities around the world have different degrees of housing crisis. The supply is low and the rent is high. Students and other low- and middle-income groups have to choose more remote, cheaper and less facilities. .

Architectural design is a direct feedback of contemporary society. The housing crisis in the external environment, the transformation of people’s hearts, and the gradual decrease in the connection between people. It is under the influence of these factors that the windowless design was born.

At the same time, the windowless design of Munger Hall has also prompted thinking about the difference between private and public space, how do we need to distinguish between the two, and where is the boundary? In Munger's view:

What students hate most is sharing a bedroom with an unrelated stranger. In the Munger Hall program, each student has their own private sleeping area.

The public area provides the atmosphere of the former campus apartment, and promotes the connection between students of different disciplines and different hobbies.

Windowless design that does subtraction is just a solution, it is certainly not perfect, and the problems that lead to the housing crisis are far more complex than architectural design.

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