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Living just off the equator, in a place that's hot & humid all year around, I find myself longing for places with pleasant, predictable, climate-controlled environments. So:

What is the largest publicly accessible air-conditioned space in the world?

  • Largest by volume (cubic metres)
  • Publicly accessible means anybody can enter (entrance fees are OK)
  • Air-conditioned means that the space is kept to temperatures less than typical ambient outdoor temperatures (so heating alone doesn't count)
  • Must be a single enclosed space (building, mall, atrium, dome, greenhouse etc), not just a single air-con plant providing cooling to a number of different buildings
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    The Tokyo metro is quite large. Does it count? – Strawberry Feb 3 at 16:15
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    This is fast becoming WorldTrivia.SE. – choster Feb 3 at 16:22
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is not a travel question. – Uciebila Feb 3 at 18:12
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    @choster WorldTriviaAndVisaBans.SE – stannius Feb 3 at 18:54
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    I was going to say the Boeing Everett Factory by volume (it's still the largest building in the world by volume and there's a public tour,) but apparently it doesn't have air conditioning, but rather just an air circulation system (and, of course, really big doors that can be opened if it gets hot.) – reirab Feb 3 at 19:43
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I would think it is the Tropical Island Resort in Germany. Apparently it has 5.5 million m³ of volume space. It is kept around 26°C all year around.

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    Interesting, but that seems more heated than air-conditioned though? – lambshaanxy Feb 3 at 8:57
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    @lambshaanxy What's the difference? – gerrit Feb 3 at 9:19
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    @gerrit: Air conditioning means cooling. Air conditioning was only invented in the middle of the 20th century. Heating has existed for as long as humans have been able to make fire. The tech where there is no difference is called "climate control", not "air conditioning". – hippietrail Feb 3 at 15:42
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    Current day big space heating and air conditioning are sharing most of the technology, it is not a simple fire anymore. – Willeke Feb 3 at 16:06
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    @JPhi1618 I think we just need a confirmation if this place actually does have A/C or not. You'll clearly need to heat this place most of the year, but it is still possible that they'd need to cool the building in the middle of summer, although the cooling effect of all the water might make that unnecessary. I can't find confirmation one way or another, and the fact that it remains at 26C all year doesn't necessarily mean they have A/C, although they may. – Nuclear Hoagie Feb 3 at 16:33
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I have not yet been able to find the volume of the Iran Mall, in Tehran, but its area is 1.4 million square meters, and it appears to be multi-floor.

Based on a comment by Neusser, 1.4 million square meters is the total floor area, so I can only count one floor height. At 3 meter height, that would give it a total volume of about 4.2 million cubic meters, 5.6 million cubic meters at 4 meters.

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    Even if the entire building was 2m tall, it would have more volume than the current #1 answer of the O2 Arena with 2.79m2. And I'm sure it's taller than 2m... – JPhi1618 Feb 3 at 16:24
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    1.4 million square meters is the total area of all floors! It’s built on area of 317000 square meters. iranmall.com/en/article/p50-Introducing-Iran-Mall – Neusser Feb 4 at 5:32
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    Do you have a source for the surface ? The wikipedia page just link to the Mall's website without any citation. Is it really only the surface of indoor floors or does it include exteriors ? Is it really all A/C ? – zakinster Feb 4 at 8:18
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    1.4 million sqm is the PLANNED size. When it was opened a few years ago it was only a fraction of that size. I'm not sure of it's current size, but I don't believe the entire building is complete yet. – Doc Feb 4 at 16:34
  • that's big, Mall of America is I believe about 400,000 M2. (floorspace) – Fattie Feb 4 at 16:49
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The O2 arena in London is an air condiditoned space of 2.79 million cubic meters. Looking at Wikipedia's list of largest buildings, this may well be the largest-volume building that is both publicly accessible and air conditioned. There are only 8 buildings larger in volume than the O2, but their main spaces are either not publicly accessible, not air conditioned, or both (unclear about the Tropical Islands Resort mentioned in another answer, but it would seem reasonable to forego air conditioning for an indoor water park located in a cold climate).

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    Are you sure the O2 Arena only has airconditioning? It is quite cold in winter in London, I am pretty sure it also needs heating (just like that German sample.) – Willeke Feb 3 at 16:08
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    @Willeke I'm certain it does have heating too, but I don't see any requirement from the OP that we're looking for an air conditioning-only building - it just can't be heat-only. – Nuclear Hoagie Feb 3 at 16:11
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    The O2 can hold 20,000 people. That many people will significantly heat the building naturally meaning that the AC will have to be used even during the winter. – Burgi Feb 3 at 17:25
  • @Burgi To elaborate on "significantly", each person dissipates on average 50W while resting and already double that during moderate activities; so the people in a booked-out O2 arena would produce somewhere between 1 and 4 MW of heat. – Alexander Feb 4 at 6:55
  • @Willeke - just curious, whyt is that relevant? the question is about cooling - air con. – Fattie Feb 4 at 16:50
3

I'll kick off with one:

The Flower Dome at Singapore's Gardens by the Bay is the largest greenhouse in the world as listed in the 2015 Guinness Book of World Records, clocking in at 195,000㎥ of space kept to 23-25°C all year around. For comparison, ambient temperatures in Singapore hover around 30°C.

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    There must be 100's of air conditioned sports stadia in the world that are bigger than that. Even just in Singapore, there's National Stadium. – The Photon Feb 3 at 6:25
  • Heck, there must be shopping malls in Singapore bigger than that. Do Wisma Atria and Takeshimiya and Orchard MRT count as a single "space"? – The Photon Feb 3 at 6:37
  • Plaza Singapura is 58,400 m^2 of floor space, at least 3 m high, plus a big atrium. Plus it's connected to an MRT station that must be at least 1 km long. – The Photon Feb 3 at 6:42
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    @TheProton Feel free to add more answers if you can find figures to back them up! – lambshaanxy Feb 3 at 12:36
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What about the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC).

https://science.ksc.nasa.gov/facilities/vab.html

The VAB covers 3.25 hectares (8 acres). It is 160 meters (525 ft 10 in) tall, 218 meters (716 ft 6 in) long and 158 meters (518 ft) wide. It encloses 3,664,883 cubic meters (129,428,000 cubic feet) of space.

The building has at least 40 MW of air conditioning equipment, including 125 ventilatorson the roof supported by four large air handlers (four cylindrical structures west of the building) to keep moisture under control. Air in the building can be completely replaced every hour. The interior volume of the building is so vast that it has its own weather, including "rain clouds form[ing] below the ceiling on very humid days"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vehicle_Assembly_Building

But I dont know if you really can visit it (https://space.nss.org/you-too-can-visit-the-vehicle-assembly-building/)

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2

Maybe stretching the spirit of the question (not man-made, entrance fee ~$3000 USD), but perhaps the Hang Sơn Đoòng Cave - it has a continuously connected volume of 38.4 million m³.

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    Probably doesn't fit the needs of OP's question which is about air-conditioned spaces. However you're right in that a cave is often cooler than the ambient outside temperature, but its through natural means not A/C. – Criggie Feb 4 at 10:41
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    @Criggie - That's what I meant by "stretching the spirit of the question" - but it fits OP's rules as written, and OP indicated that they were "looking forward to the inevitable loophole", so I went for it. – IronEagle Feb 4 at 18:45
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    Improvement "Caves are sometimes described as having a natural AC system because their internal temperatures tend to be a lot cooler than the outside air. " For example, the Australian township of Coober Pedy en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coober_Pedy where most people live in caves, and there are few AC systems. I think this is a reasonable answer because it challenges some unstated assumptions in the question. – Criggie Feb 4 at 20:16
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Boeing's Everett Production Facility is the largest building in the world by volume at ~13.4m cubic meters. It is climate controlled.

At approximately 98 acres, it is larger than Disneyland but smaller than Magic Kingdom.

Public tours are available for a fee.

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    This building does not have air conditioning. The climate is controlled either by opening the doors to cool the building, or turning on the lights to heat the building. There is no way to cool the building below the ambient outdoor temperature, which fails the OP's requirements. See blogs.mentor.com/jvandomelen/blog/2010/04/15/… – Nuclear Hoagie Feb 3 at 18:55
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    I'm not sure I understand the unit of volume referenced. sq/m I'm assuming 'cubic meters', but sq/m shows the intention of dividing a square by a meter, or '13.4 million squares per meter'. – Travis Feb 3 at 23:14
  • @Travis I think it was intended as square meter (m2), an area. But that's supposed to be written as sq m, not sq/m. – Mast Feb 4 at 10:22
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    Blatantly fails the question - it's well known to NOT be air conditioned! – Doc Feb 4 at 16:33
  • @Doc Well, it's ok if you and the others didn't read the question, totally expected by now. Still a winner for me! – Johns-305 Feb 5 at 16:51
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I wanted to mention indoor ski slope, like the biggest Alpincenter Bottrop, but apparently a ski slope is way smaller than a mall... If the roof is at 4m we stand at a volume of about 77k cubic meters.

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