This isn't a question of how many boxes or deeps v mediums, but more about what's the best arrangement within the hive of the various components: capped honey frames, frames mostly of pollen, open nectar, late or final brood rounds etc.
I think the bees will adapt, with more or less success, to all kinds and sizes of cavities. I had feral honey bees living in the uninsulated walls of a timberframe barn where the max cavity depth was perhaps 6 inches deep in stud bays 12 feet tall. When we did the cut-out there was solid comb from sill to girt. Those colonies survived for two decades, though undoubtedly they sometimes were replaced by new swarms if the previous colony perished.
What I'm trying to get a fix on is what would be the best order of frames within a wintering hive.
Something like: capped honey/ capped honey/ honey & pollen/ brood space, perhaps backfilled with open nectar at the tail end)/ honey & pollen/ capped Honey/ capped Honey
And should this pattern be in the lower box(es) with solid capped honey in boxes above that? I noticed that last year all my bees started their earliest brood in the second from the top box, no matter what size it was, and no matter how tall the hive was, and no matter where they still had capped honey and pollen stores. (I fed Lauri's sugar bricks on the top bars of the uppermost box.)
I am interested to hear what people think is the ideal, and what they do to get that, and especially what, if any, research has been done on different systems.