Underground: The Next Frontier of Urbanization

With rapidly urbanizing metro areas, some cities are not looking to build up, or spread out, anymore. Rather they have begun to grow into underground spaces.

1 minute read

September 27, 2014, 11:00 AM PDT

By Maayan Dembo @DJ_Mayjahn


Nikos Koutoulas / Flickr

Flavia Krause-Jackson, Kati Pohjanpalo, and Sharon Chen contributed to a piece in Bloomberg News regarding underground development. With limited space, and sky-rocketing real estate prices, some cities are looking down to create much needed space.

As Clara Irazábal, assistant professor at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at Columbia University, shared with the writers, "[t]here are real opportunities to develop underground to accommodate density for cities that are already overcrowded or growing... It can expand efficiency, reduce commuting times and improve quality of life."

A perfect example is in the third-most densest sovereign nation, Singapore. With a huge population of 5.4 million crammed onto a tiny 277 square mile island, wealthy Singapore's skyline is already jammed with more than 4,000 high-rises. This month, Singapore opened an underground oil-storage facility, "freeing space three times the size of New York’s Grand Central Station for chemical manufacturing above ground. The project caps a 30-year effort to create a petrochemical hub. It began when officials merged seven offshore islets and then spent S$950 million ($749 million) to dig rock caverns that can hold enough liquid hydrocarbon to fill 600 Olympic-sized swimming pools."

The piece describes efforts utilizing underground space in places like Helsinki, Beijing, and New York City.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 in Bloomberg News

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