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Where is the most indoors?
January 20, 2013 2:33 AM   Subscribe

Suppose we define an indoors number as the number of doorways that one must pass through to get from a given location to the outdoors. What location has the highest number?

For example, a closet in a bedroom of an apartment in a building with a common enclosed entryway would have an indoors number of 4.

I'm sure we're going to need some definitions to make this answerable. Let's define a location as any space where an average human can comfortably sit or stand, and a doorway as something that divides two spaces and has distinct open and closed states such that a human cannot pass when closed. It doesn't necessarily need to have a locking mechanism, just a distinct closed state. I don't want things like archways, porticoes, or turnstiles to count as doorways, but I'm not feeling rules-lawyer enough to try to come up with a formal definition that excludes them.

Only the shortest path from a location to the outside counts -- you can't detour through extra doorways if there's a more direct route available. And the path must have no cycles; you can't walk through the same doorway more than once.

I'm not quite sure how to define outside, and I'm hoping the common sense definition is not problematic. For example, an outdoor gate does count as a doorway; we'd consider the part inside the gate to not be fully outside, even if it's "outdoors".

Given those clumsy definitions, where on Earth is the most indoors? Is there a room in the bowels of the Pentagon or in a corner of an aircraft carrier that requires passing through 50 doors to get to?
posted by Rhomboid to Grab Bag (26 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
 
Have you researched prisons? Maybe look at floorplans of the maximum security prisons--here's a federal supermax prison.
posted by studioaudience at 3:16 AM on January 20, 2013


Of course the real answer is here.

Other than that, perhaps something like Los Alamos National Lab. They supposedly have a vast underground facilities. With the highest level of security required to protect the facility itself and to protect the public from the release of some deadly product I would imagine they would have quite a few barriers. This would be especially true if you would also count emergency doors as doors. Doors that are normally retracted but come into play should a section need to be contained.
posted by 2manyusernames at 3:30 AM on January 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


There are doorways and then there are doorways. There are some offices, and maybe the Granite Inn inside of larger structures inside Cheyenne Mountain Air Station that would certainly vie for "most indoors," even if the number of doors isn't strictly the highest.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 3:31 AM on January 20, 2013


Wait, but what about external walls? If you have to go through six doorways, but then reach a room with an external wall and window, are you more or less "indoors" (for the purposes of your question) than someone who goes through only three doors but reaches a room that is still three more doors away from an external wall on any side?

If a turnstile counts as a door then a subway car might be a consideration. Also any underground bunker-type places. Or high security locations with lots of identifying checkpoint-doors. Or maybe a vault?

Have you looked up things like the layout of the Taj Mahal? Or general floorplans for mansions, especially old ones with secret staircases and hidden rooms and such?
posted by windykites at 5:01 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh also does it have to be a real place?
posted by windykites at 5:04 AM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are probably many infinitely inside places - areas that have been walled in, with no exits at all.

Also, what about the inside of a submerged submarine?
posted by Urtylug at 5:59 AM on January 20, 2013


It's not going to be anywhere in a public/commercial building. Most fire codes require nothing more than Room → Corridor → Exit.
posted by scruss at 6:28 AM on January 20, 2013


It's not going to be anywhere in a public/commercial building. Most fire codes require nothing more than Room → Corridor → Exit.

Not a recently constructed commercial building, anyway. The place I will be staying tonight has seven doors between my pillow and the outdoors, but it was built in 1858.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:34 AM on January 20, 2013


Until it was torn down, someplace right at the center of Kowloon Walled City might have fit the bill. No way to know for sure though, as it certainly wasn't built on a floor plan...
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:25 AM on January 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Depending on some of your decisions, upstairs in most commercial buildings requires quite a few. a hotel suite, for instance, may require 1-2 doors to get into the lobby, door into the stairs (or inner and outer for the elevator), door out of the stairs, door into the room, and separate door into the bedroom. Possibly another layer if the closet counts.
posted by JMOZ at 7:53 AM on January 20, 2013


An airlock in a modern cold-climate commercial building increases indoorsness by one.
posted by mendel at 8:21 AM on January 20, 2013


A location from which it's impossible to reach the outside would have an undefined indoors number. That's a little bit terrifying in its own right, but it doesn't help us figure out what location has the highest indoors number.

By a strict reading of the rules, if an external wall has a window that opens and is large enough for an average human to fit through then it would count as a doorway. That would seem to remove from contention a lot of locations, such as the hotel suite. Perhaps that's a good thing -- you probably shouldn't be able to see the outdoors from the most indoor place in the world.

I welcome fictional locations. I was pondering how one might artificially construct a location with the highest indoors number, such as by gathering the entire stock of the door aisles of several Home Depots and lining all of them up in a long row. But that would be disqualified because it wouldn't be the most direct path to the destination; you could walk right around all the doors.
posted by Rhomboid at 8:23 AM on January 20, 2013


My bet? Somewhere in the Winchester Mystery House.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:30 AM on January 20, 2013


Fictionally speaking, "Get Smart" has lots and lots of doors.
posted by Vaike at 9:14 AM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


This doesn't exactly follow your definition, but the bottom of Carlsbad Cavern is pretty goddamn indoors. You have to go into the visitors' center and then take an elevator about 800 feet underground into the cave. Your tourgroup then passes through a gate and walks another mile or so through the caverns and they sit you down in a circle in an underground chamber about a thousand feet below the earth and a mile from any other human beings, where they then proceed to turn the lights off.

For someone with the wrong sort of claustrophobia it would probably be pretty entrapping. As far as "amount of time and effort required to get out into the sunshine" that is probably the most indoors I have ever been.
posted by Scientist at 11:27 AM on January 20, 2013


I'd be sort of shocked if there was a real-world place much deeper than 10 layers. Christopher Alexander in "A Pattern Language" mentions that visitors to the Pope have to wait in each of seven different waiting rooms, so that would be eight layers, not including however many doors from the outside to the first waiting room. But that number might be apocryphal, as Google doesn't seem to turn it up anywhere else.

Seems like holy places in general are good candidates. Alexander also mentions the Inner City in Beijing and the Ise Shrine, and I wonder how many doors one must pass to reach the innermost chamber of the Kaaba in Mecca-- it's housed at the center of a huge mosque, and the object itself appears to have an outer door and an inner door concealing a staircase. But the Holy of Holies in Herod's Temple seems like it may have been as few as four layers deep, including the walled courtyard.

Could fictional places include Zelda dungeons? The level 9 dungeon in the original game looks to me like it could be about 19 layers deep, and of course the deepest level is where the holy artifact is to be found.
posted by Dixon Ticonderoga at 11:52 AM on January 20, 2013


I was once in a lab with a film developing machine stuck in a little alcove. If you crawled in behind the machine (e.g., to swap the chemical tanks) and pulled the little bifold door closed across the alcove, you'd get nine or ten:

(1) through the bifold door into a modular prefab darkroom
(2) through a lightlock in the corner of a bigger storage room
(1) through the storage room door into a five-foot hallway with some lockers and stuff
(1) through a keycard-controlled door into the hallway proper
(2) into an elevator and then back out into a lobby
(2) through two doors (a meter apart with a big air heater on the ceiling in between) out into a courtyard/car circle thing
(1?) through a gate onto the street that I've never actually seen closed but which I was told got locked at night
posted by d. z. wang at 11:57 AM on January 20, 2013


Somewhere in the attic of one of the world's largest palaces? Maybe in the Palace of Caserta, which supposedly is the world's largest by volume, and it's also in the Baroque style, which means lots of unnecessary over-the-top complexity?
posted by Tom-B at 12:42 PM on January 20, 2013


There are underground mines with dozens of ventilation and fire control doors in the main drift between their lowest level and the surface.

In the fictional case the Nethack dungeon, though because it is randomly generated it'll vary, probably averages at least 50 doors between the lowest level and the surface.
posted by Mitheral at 1:06 PM on January 20, 2013


Rhomboid writes " I was pondering how one might artificially construct a location with the highest indoors number, such as by gathering the entire stock of the door aisles of several Home Depots and lining all of them up in a long row. But that would be disqualified because it wouldn't be the most direct path to the destination; you could walk right around all the doors."

Simply have the last door in the chain open into a standard steel garden shed. The only way in would be the long chain of doors.
posted by Mitheral at 1:09 PM on January 20, 2013


In the neverending story there is a room of five doors, which can accidentally be entered by any door in the universe, and each door leads to another door until you get to the place where you are supposed to be, which could be forever if you never find out what it is that you're trying to get to. Actually, there's a lot of interesting entrances and egresses in the book, probably some I've forgotten. You should just read it.

Also: castle dungeons? Mine shafts?
posted by windykites at 2:01 PM on January 20, 2013


This doesn't exactly follow your definition, but the bottom of Carlsbad Cavern is pretty goddamn indoors. You have to go into the visitors' center and then take an elevator about 800 feet underground into the cave. Your tourgroup then passes through a gate and walks another mile or so through the caverns and they sit you down in a circle in an underground chamber about a thousand feet below the earth and a mile from any other human beings, where they then proceed to turn the lights off.

You can just walk down from the surface through the natural cave entrance. It takes a little while but it's an easy walk (in the down direction).
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 6:41 PM on January 20, 2013


I was pondering how one might artificially construct a location with the highest indoors number

You could build some sort of labyrinth with doors.
posted by various at 6:46 PM on January 20, 2013


Fictionally, the House of Leaves must be up there.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:06 PM on January 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oo, like looking for the "holiest of holies" in terms of indoor rooms!
10 underground cities
An old favourite, the Urban Infiltration site (this is a previously from 2002)
posted by yoHighness at 12:52 PM on January 21, 2013


Maybe this floor plan of NATO Joint Operations Centre (til 1990) at Kanne in Belgium?
posted by yoHighness at 1:10 PM on January 21, 2013


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