Raymond's Weblog^

What I would build if there were no planning permission laws in the UK

or: a more modest alternative to charter cities

or: maybe I played too much minecraft as a child

A Shipping Container Fortress

Shipping containers seem like a great building material:

They also look really pretty.

So if you happened to have a large patch of undeveloped land, you could quite easily assemble a three-storey house with a courtyard and ten bedrooms, and you could do so in a few months.

Also, delightfullly, if you ever wanted to move you could just disassemble and reassemble the entire structure. You’d need to be careful about how you attached the containers, but it should be possible to simply disassemble the entire structure and move it one container at a time.

An Elaborate Scaffolding Structure

One of the things I most resent about the modern world is the lack of easily-integrated exercise. I was lucky to once spend three months in a house with a large pool and people who enjoyed playing Marco Polo; every week we’d spend several hours basically doing vigorous exercise. Otherwise, I personally find going to the gym borderline masochistic.

I have fond memories of clambering around playgrounds as a child. It’s very satisfying, it’s good exercise, and it’s entirely compatible with good conversation. Unfortunately most playgrounds are rightly reserved for children, and are bound by public safety regulations.

I also have fond memories of climbing scaffolding - the poles are just the right size to wrap your hand around, they’re incredibly strong and secure, and, as it turns out, scaffolding is pretty cheap.

So, anchored on some central fortress, I would surely construct a modest-sized tower and perhaps some bridges. It would be a delightful open-air meeting place high above the ground, and it would encourage regular exercise. It would be no more dangerous than climbing a tree.

And even more so than shipping containers, it would be extremely easy to repurpose and extend. One could easily pack it away for safe-keeping in the winter, make a larger platform for a social occasion, contort it into the shape of a great beast for the holidays, and so on.

In my ideal world there’d also be trees nearby that could be integrated into the structure.

Also, while you rarely see such scaffolding in the wild, there are many kinds of exciting swivel joints from which one could construct more dynamic setups: drawbridges, retractable ladders,

Underground Labyrinths

I at least yearn for the mines. I spent a few hours in one once, and it was delightful. Who among us doesn’t wish for a trapdoor leading to a secret passage?

Shipping containers are designed only for weight from above, and must be carefully fortified for side pressure. But it can be done, and what’s more, there are companies which sell prefabricated basements.

Beyond a certain point it becomes cheaper to just outright buy a digger, at which point you can really commit. Dirt dug from the ground can be repurposed to create small hills, which could potentially be incorporated into other structures.

Appendix: Possible Ways To Circumvent Planning Permission

As far as I can tell, it’s maybe not that hard to found a parish council. If you can do that, you can approve the creation of a working group which can unilaterally declare planning permission guidelines for the local area. You still have to comply with legal requirements for safety and so on, but I believe that if you can get enough people together, you’re no longer constrained by “society” and its “aesthetic preferences”.