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Month: January, 2015

6 Baffling Apartment Arrangements You Won’t Believe Are Real* (* they are not real)

The issue:

Many modern apartments are extremely well-built structurally (or perhaps even over-built), but have terrible interior layouts.

Unfortunately, it is extremely expensive to reconfigure a floorplan, even if no load-bearing walls (or walls concealing wires or plumbing) need to be modified. For maximum cost-efficiency, a person interested in remodeling could potentially just take a sledgehammer to these walls, but the final result would be unlikely to be aesthetically appealing.

Sometimes, a floorplan would ideally change due to a change in the number of inhabitants of an apartment. For example, the optimal layout for a single individual is unlikely to be the same as the layout for two or three people. Or, perhaps a particular room is rarely used, and its space would be better applied toward extending another room.


One way to make apartment-reconfiguration simple would be to allow the walls to be moved. The method proposed below uses a number of independently-movable standard-sized wall panels and requires no tools to change the apartment configuration.

The general idea is:

  1. There is a track laid out in a grid pattern in the ceiling.
  2. A number of wall panels hang from this track. These wall panels can be slid and rotated along the track.
  3. The wall panels can mesh together to form a complete wall. See details below.


Fig 1: A movable wall panel.

Figure legend:

  • A (green): OVERHEAD ANCHOR: The wall is secured to the track overhead by a component that is too large to fall through the track (B).
  • B (orange): OVERHEAD TRACK: The entire ceiling is criss-crossed with a grid of tracks. Similar to track lighting, but these have to be much stronger since they are supporting the weight of the wall (and potentially anyone who leans on it / pushes it.
  • C (blue): SOUNDPROOFING / OPTIONAL WINDOW (TOP): To allow the wall to slide around, it must not be securely attached to the ceiling. Once the wall has been moved into place, the “soundproofing” component can be pivoted into place and secured flush against the ceiling, where it can apply upward pressure to secure the wall, as seen on the right side of the diagram.
  • D (red): SOUNDPROOFING / PRIVACY FLOOR PANEL (BOTTOM): Similar to “C,” except this component secures against the floor instead of ceiling. Aside from preventing a person’s feet from showing from under the wall, this component also helps securely anchor the wall panel to the floor by applying downward pressure.
  • E (purple & white) WALL PANEL: The movable wall panel itself.


  • Power outlets only exist on the immobile edge-of-floorplan walls and in a few ceiling / floor drops. This means there is no need to worry about wiring in the movable walls.
  • Overhead lights (if they even exist) are triggered wirelessly and can reconfigured to suit whatever room arrangement is desired. That way, light switches (which can also be wireless) can be reconfigured to match the actual lights in each room.

Meshing walls together:

The edges of each wall panel have yin-yang shaped “genderless” connectors that allow any panel to securely mesh with any other panel, regardless of orientation. (These is similar to the types of connectors used to link railroad cars, which can be attached regardless of orientation.) Note that no specific additional fasteners are necessary.


Fig 2: Overhead view of two wall panels meshing together. The connections can be made between any two panels, in any orientation (i.e. there is no “polarity” in the connectors).

The secret you never knew!

Layouts in practice:

The only real restrictions are the exterior walls, windows, and any “permanent” rooms (ones with plumbing or unusual electrical requirements). Additionally, due to the grid-like nature of the track and the connector types, walls will probably only fit together at 90° angles.

(It might be possible to design a track (and perhaps expandable walls) with a mechanism to allow arbitrary angles, but this is unlikely to be worthwhile in an apartment that is already bounded by rectangular external walls.)


Fig 3: A blank layout with two “fixed” rooms: the bathroom (“BATH”) and kitchen (“KIT.”). The red mark on the left side is the entry door from the shared apartment hallway. The blue region on the right side represents outward-facing windows in the apartment complex.

The kitchen and bathroom require plumbing and built-in features (and cannot be easily moved around), so they are assumed to be fixed. Despite these restrictions, this apartment could be reconfigured in many ways.

Several options are shown below. Bedrooms are numbered.


Fig 4: Various layouts that are possible by moving the movable walls (indicated in brown) around on the overhead tracks. Bedrooms are numbered “1,” “2,” and “3.” Note that a one, two, or three bedroom configuration is possible. Blue = windows.

PROS: Would be amazing in every respect.

CONS: Might allow architects and interior designers to slack off if they can fix layout issues “in postproduction.” It would probably be a huge hassle to move a bunch of wall panels around in a furnished apartment.

Incredible secret to lose weight FOR FREE—doctors hate it!


Food is delicious, and in the past, the main threat to survival was starvation rather than over-eating.

But, times have changed!

Historically proven method

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Now, almost everyone gets fat. How can this issue be solved without hiring an unyielding personal trainer and chef for every single person?


One way to solve this problem would also be extremely profitable for the company who made it happen. For a small initial fee, this company would go into a person’s house and remove the person’s microwave, fridge, and any food-preparation or food-storage items. The pantries and cabinets would be filled up with sandbags and discarded peanut shells.


Fig 1: The fridge would be removed from the dieter’s house.

Next, a vending machine would be installed in the house, where the fridge used to be. This would be the person’s only source of food (unless they happened to live very close to a restaurant or cheated in some other way).


Fig 2: The vending machine has now replaced the entire kitchen in the house of the dieter.

This vending machine would sell healthy and low-calorie items at low cost, and more appealing items at a very high cost. This would supplement the dieter’s willpower; not only would they have to just overcome their desire to lose weight in order to eat an unhealthy food item, but they would also have to insert (say) ten dollars into the vending machine for a slice of pizza. (We will assume there is a heating element that could reheat the pizza on demand.) This additional financial punishment might help keep people stay on their diet plan when they would otherwise have strayed.


Now the user can lose weight and switch to a healthier diet more easily, while the program that installed the vending machines can profit from momentary lapses in self-control.

PROS: Helps reduce obesity-related diseases and reduce overall national medical expenses. Increases life expectancy and quality-adjusted life years.

CONS: None!

Serve your next jury duty on Netflix or Youtube


Jury trials can last for an extremely long time, potentially upwards of several months. Every day during the trial, at least 12 jurors will be inconvenienced by showing up to the court.

The issues:

Besides the issue of wasting so much time for so many people, there are several additional factors:

  1. Jurors can become bored, inattentive, or simply overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of evidence that is presented at a trial.
  2. Any testimony or evidence has to be presented on-site at the trial during normal business hours (with rare exceptions for video testimony). This is unnecessarily limiting.
  3. Jurors may occasionally be instructed to exclude or ignore evidence that has been presented but (for whatever reason) is inadmissible. However, it is not actually possible for a juror to wipe their memory of the improperly-presented evidence.
  4. Jurors may be influenced more by the charisma and speaking style of witnesses or lawyers, rather than the substance of what they are saying.


Fig 1: The “scales of justice” can also be used to weigh people or sacks of flour.


Instead of having a trial drag out for weeks and weeks, it could be filmed and edited down to the length of a standard miniseries.

Each one-hour “episode” would consist of alternating segments by the prosecution and defense.

The episodes could be released in several ways:

  1. As a streaming “Netflix”-style video to the jurors to watch at home as streaming video at their leisure.
  2. As a streaming video, but requiring the jurors to all watch it at the same time and log into a shared chat room. This could also be accomplished from jurors’ homes.
  3. In a regular conference room or movie theater, where all jurors would be obligated to show up at the same time and the trial video would be presented (and refreshments provided). This would be the most similar to existing jury duty, except that it would be shorter and after work hours.


Fig 2: With a camera in the courtroom, the jury could be removed entirely.

This solves many problems:

  1. Qualified jurors attempting to weasel their way out of jury duty due to the burdensome obligation (greatly minimized)
  2. Jury duty could be scheduled for 8–9 PM for a week, thus preventing it from conflicting with normal work hours.
  3. Inadmissible evidence can be removed in the editing room.
  4. Trials would be cheaper and shorter.
  5. Would bolster the video editing sector of the economy.

Finally, particularly compelling trials could even be released on a “pay-per-view” system, bringing in much-needed funds to the civil infrastructure.


Fig 3: The old jury box (left) and the new jury box (right, note that it is empty) after the proposed modifications. It could be used to grow lettuce or radishes, thereby increasing the “sustainability score” of an eco-friendly courthouse.

PROS: Reduces the annoyance of jury duty, increases the quality of legal representation, and saves money for the court system.

CONS: None!

Fix possessives, plurals, and contractions forever with this one incomprehensible English orthography trick

The horrifying issue:

The “apostrophe + s” ending in English has multiple meanings. This can be confusing.


Fig 1: Hypothesis: the apostrophe (as seen above) is a poor choice of symbol for indicating possession.

Here are some examples of a few applications of ’s (or s’ ) :

  1. Singular possession (“The cat’s tail.”)
  2. Plural possession (“The many trees’ leaves”—not “trees’s leaves”)
  3. Contraction, short for “is” (“It’s cold outside”)
  4. Contraction, short for “us” (“Let’s go inside”)

Aside from the varying rules, “s” is also the way of pluralizing in English. So possessive and plural can sound the same.

And “it’s” vs “its” is a popular point of confusion.

  1. “The horse’s hooves made noise.”
  2. “Its hooves made noise.” No apostrophe here! (And “it’s” is a separate word entirely.)


Let us disambiguate these cases in text, while keeping the pronunciation the same.

  1. Plurality remains “-s” and “-es.”
  2. Contractions (e.g. “let’s go” or “it’s going to rain”) can remain the same.
  3. For possession, we’ll use a new symbol. It will still be pronounced the same way.

OPTION 1: A plain “z” might work, and has a similar sound:


  • “The fishz scales.” “The octopusz tentacles.”
    • This becomes awkward when a word ends in a “z.” There are about 60 English words that this would affect.
    • Example: “The waltzz (“waltz’s”) steps were difficult.” Or: “The Jazzz (“Jazz’s”) audience.”

These oddities could be avoided with an apostrophe or hyphen:


  • “’z”: “The two quizzes’z answers.” “The fizz’z sound.”


  • “The quiz-z answers.” “The Joneses-z house.” “The cats-z tails.”

Fig 2: Maybe Z or -Z or ‘Z is the way to go.

OPTION 2: We could use a special punctuation mark that is only for possession.

The degree symbol (°) gets very little use in English, and could perhaps be re-purposed

  • “°”: “The two horses°s saddles.” “The various bottles°s labels.” “The cat°s meow.”


Fig 3: The degree symbol is generally unused in English writing, so it could be repurposed with few complaints. This might be the cat°s meow.

OPTION 3: Alternately, we could omit the punctuation-mark-and-letter entirely, and borrow a possessive-indicating character from another language (which we would still pronounce as “s.”).

  • Chinese possessive-mark equivalent:
  • Japanese possessive-mark equivalent:

The Japanese one is simple and resembles a (very large) punctuation mark already:


Fig 4: Perhaps symbols from other languages would be suitable. Example: “The horseshoe nails.” “The man jacket.” “The dozen cats tails.”

Possessive pronouns according to these rules:

We can also make “his / hers / theirs / its” fit this system:

  • her / hers —> herz / her’z / her°s / her
  • its —> itz / it’z / it°s / it  (note: not to be confused with “it’s” as in “it’s going to rain”)
  • theirs —> theirz / their’z / their°s / their

We have at least two options for “his”:

  • his —> hisz / his’z / his°s / his
  • Or if we disassemble “his” into “he’s”:
    • his —> hez / he’z / he°s / he
  • Or maybe even:
    • his —> hiz / hi’z / hi°s / hi

The last one has a new (but very unlikely) confusion: “hi°s” (“tell him that hi°s car is double-parked”) is now visually identical to “hi°s” (as in “we greeted them from afar with a loud ‘hi’, but the hi°s volume wasn’t high enough for them to hear it”).


  1. Plural remains “s” with no bells and whistles.
  2. Possession is indicated with either a “z” or some combination of punctuation-and-z (e.g. “°z”), or possibly by a completely new punctuation mark borrowed from another language (e.g. “”).
  3. Contractions (like “let’s go” and “it’s cold”) remain “’s”.

Now we’ve freed up the apostrophe for its primary job of indicating contractions!

PROS: Will create thousands of new jobs teaching writing to primary school students. Finally the tyranny of “its” vs “it’s” will be banished from the land.

CONS: If we start using “” or “”, other countries might invade when their own supplies of these valuable characters run low.