How Much Space Does an Individual Need on a Ship? Why?
So if you look at this question from a sociological and cultural perspective, as well as practical perspectives, this is a question that will take some exploring. For the sake of keeping this a decent length, I will save my perspective on working for another post.
We can safely assume that every person will need a location to sleep, a location to eat, a location to store their possessions, communal entertainment space, a location to exercise and a location for bodily waste. When you take into consideration that each person will need both private/semi-private space as well as public space and storage space, the question becomes even more complex.
Proxemics varies from culture to culture. A native of New York City has a different personal bubble than a native from rural Texas. In general, Texans have Huge personal bubbles and New Yorkers have much smaller bubbles. This is due to cultural differences based on the available space of their environment. If you want more info on the cultural aspects of personal space read this article from NPR.
The ISS (International Space Station) has the cubic volume of a Bowing 747 and holds hundreds of experiments and 6 crew members. In this case, space is relative because the experiments and equipment take up a lot of volume. Also remember that the majority of space is shared space. From the video I looked at each astronaut gets what looks like a sleeping bag and a small space for personal possessions… plus a few small areas around the ship for food and waste storage.
Toiletting can be consolidated for multiple people, people already share bathrooms in office buildings and homes. There are a few options in regards to actual toilet facilities, dry toilets AKA composting toilets and wet toilets, AKA conventional western shitters. Personally, I think that composting toilets that incinerate the waste will be the best solution because the matter that is left can be safely added to the soil in the food production area or added to the soil production for colonies. Liquid waste can be processed for mineral separation and refiltered into plant production.
Greywater from bathing can also be used for washing clothes and growing food, provided it is treated. Showers are a necessity, and baths would be a luxurious communal affair. If ship inhabitants were to adopt the Japanese and Scandinavian bathing policies of steam and scrape, short shower then soaking, water consumption would be greatly reduced.
Options in regards to sleeping arrangements are endless, consider the crew cabins in any of the Star Trek series, many are spacious and could potentially hold whole families. The bunk rooms in Battle Star Galactica also offer a cramped but viable option. I have to question if communal bunks are a good idea or if pods like the Japanese pod hotels make the most sense. A major point to consider is; if part of the crew is in cryo, if they are strictly a generation ship or if the ship is capable of rapid travel. If the crew is in cryo then they would only need enough space for the cryo unit, a small space for personal belongings and then the space for the skeleton crew, and a location to house the crew as awoken.
When it comes to food consumption it would be wise to only have food in certain areas. I believe that any ship needs a galley and a communal mess hall as well as a captains dining room for formal and planning events. This being said the space required for a mess hall will be determined by crew size, shifts, and duration of travel. Communal eating has an added bonus of reducing food waste, increasing moral and minimizing consumption in gluttons. If artificial gravity is produced on the ship I would think an open salad bar and a school cafeteria style set up would work well, given much higher quality food. Or the tray setup that was seen in the Doris Day film, That Touch Of Mink.
Considering that majority of the objects on the ship will be for public and communal use, I can see each person carrying two 30 quart tubs for their personal possessions. These could be housed in personal quarters or in storage facilities that are set up like warehouses.
In regards to entertainment and exercise, I feel that both are vital to psychosocial stability. Considering the recently release virtual reality headsets entertainment and exercise can be intermingled. I would still recommend movie nights and socials for people to congregate but VR marathons can be done on exercise bikes and treadmills (Check out this ISS astronaut attending a marathon from space).
Taking these points into consideration picking a number arbitrarily is silly. This is a design problem best left to the engineers. However, hypothetically 500 square feet (46.45 sq meters) is a good number for personal space if each family unit is given their own quarters, must cook for themselves and have personal Toiletting spaces. If the individuals are in strictly communal spaces then each person would need a minimum of 38 square feet of floor space and exceptionally well-designed storage space. Arbitrarily the space needed would be somewhere between 38 square feet and 500 square feet.
Talk to you again soon,