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The Accidental Room (99percentinvisible.org)
79 points by garycomtois 9 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 13 comments

The magic of 99pi is humanization.

If I found out people were living in an empty part of the mall in any other context, my response would be: “ehh weird.”

But 99pi presents the story and by the end they seem like heroes sticking it to the man.

I feel like 99pi is becoming more like This American Life. They’re both great radio programs but 99pi used to produce content that shon a light on an interesting but lesser noticed aspect of our daily lives. Like this episode could have been a this American life episode. It was mostly just an anecdotal experience from a unique person. Maybe focusing a little on property developers. Maybe it’s true that Roman Mars is just too talented to stay in his niche, but I’d be pretty disappointed if he just became budget Ira Glass.

Strongly reminds me of Mrs Basil E Frankenweiler


this is great. In a previous life I would bid construction jobs, and it was noticeable how much dead space you would end up with in say, a high school or a prison.

Nothing like this, though.

How does that happen and why aren't neighboring rooms simply extended to take over the void? Seems like such a void would be glaringly obvious on any blueprint.

Now that everyone is worried about energy efficiency ("net zero" etc.) it seems like architectural malpractice to create large conditioned but unused volumes.

Why? Given that nobody’s in it heating it up (in any other case), wouldn’t it mostly serve as a ballast of cold air—a bit like having a larger freezer to contain the same amount of food? I’d think it’d increase the energy efficiency of dealing with a new hot body entering the space, since there’s so much more already-cold air to spread the heat into.

(In Providence they're not only concerned about AC.) More to the point, most of these volumes would extend all the way to the roof, which is the primary heat transfer boundary in a large squat building like this. It's unlikely that these areas see the draft-proofing that inhabited areas do. We now know that uncontrolled movement of air through boundaries is the largest source of HVAC inefficiency. Has a building inspector ever actually entered these areas? Without energy input, any enclosed volume will tend to converge to the outdoor temperature. Human comfort will require that energy input.

That’s fascinating. I foolishly assumed all space would be accounted for, but of course bureaucracy. What kind of anomalies did you encounter?

I believe the same folks were also responsible for a secret art installation that included a bunch of hanging mannequins inside a nearby drainage tunnel. I remember hearing about it around the same time as the discovery of the mall apartment. I've only been able to find a couple[0][1] references for it though.

[0]: http://www.insanebunkers.com/index.php?topic=1244.0

[1]: https://youtu.be/LKdbYh5uoJA

If they had occupied the room peacefully for 10 years, I wonder if they would have squatter's rights:


If squatters are using a property consistently without the permission of the owner for a minimum of 10 years, then a claim can be filed to take over title of the land that is being used.

I think squatters typically require conspicuous occupancy, not a hidden one. Otherwise someone could secretly build a shed in a secluded corner of someone's property, and claim rights to it.

Audacity is I think the best word to describe what they've done, but definitely in a good way!

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