Housing onboard a Habitat
Space is a premium in space. Every cubic meter has to be provided with air fit to breathe, kept cool enough people don’t cook and warm enough that people don’t freeze. The overall volume available in any spacecraft is limited by hundreds of factors, many of which are set in stone and your average space habitat is just a very large spacecraft. The average civilian residence onboard a habitat is quite small. Each resident will have a private sleeping area roughly 2.5m to a side. This contains a bed and some private storage and usually does not have an external window. Most habitats will offer the option for multiple residents to combine their personal space, although others merely make larger private spaces averaging 2.5 by 4m available to those who wish to share. Each private area also has access to a small bathroom containing a sink and toilet. Between two and six sleeping areas will connect onto a shared living space. The size varies wildly depending on the habitat and the expectations placed around who will be living there but a good rule of thumb provides at least as much space as all the private areas combined for the shared space. This area contains space for recreation and food preparation, and has access to a larger bathroom which also contains a bath, shower or other cleaning device is culturally appropriate. The shared area usually has at least one outward facing window, and it is not uncommon for any seating in this area to face the window. Obviously, the requirement for every residence to have a window limits the number of residences on a station, but the original designers considered this a feature, not a flaw. On the lower decks of a station some residences will instead have floor windows, or recessed viewing bays accessible via a ladder or stairs instead of a window on a wall although this tends to be a feature in older habitats and has gone out of style. Many habitats will also combine elements of workspace with personal residences. Where the work is quiet this may just be attached to the shared living space in the same way as the private sleeping areas, but in the case of mechanical workshops, musical work spaces or other noisy work this might be connected by a short, private walkway. A single residence is expected to be inhabited by a family unit, be that a family bound by blood, marriage or choice. Some habitats have a practice of cohabiting comparative strangers but this is uncommon. There does exist housing for individual single people but it is in some cases rare or expensive, and many habitats instead choose to provide more dormitory style accommodation where ten or more private sleeping areas are joined onto a more extensive shared living space. However, generally in the cultures that spring up on space habitats it is a significant rite of passage for an individual to leave the residence (and culturally the family) in which they grew up to move into a new residence (and therefore form a new family).