London, UK: Our cities are growing fast but we are only planning for part of them. Do we understand the full 3D city-scape and the opportunities urban underground space might provide for a more sustainable urban future?Think Deep UK welcomed around 100 experts to launch its initiative to unlock the value of the ground beneath cities and ask the question “how can cities be transformed by using the space beneath them?” The opening address was delivered by Prof Brian Collins, Director of the International Centre of Infrastructure Futures at UCL who advocates a systems-approach to ensure our buried city services are managed in an integrated way and are fit for the future, “there are many services that co-exist beneath our cities that collectively deliver a quality of life we have become accustomed to”.
An international perspective was provided by Han Admiraal, chair of the ITA’s Committee on Underground Space (ITACUS), working in the Netherlands – “No longer will you hear me quote the successes of the past as rationale for the future, we now live in an era where human activities are influencing the Earth’s geology and ecosystems, we are changing the urban fabric beneath our cities. We need to think deep about our actions and the opportunities that lie below the surface”.
Experts at the launch were keen to highlight the innovative approaches and the socio-economic benefits that may be delivered through the smart use of urban underground space, debating the balance between private underground enterprises and subsurface use for the common good.Should we be growing more food underground? Where can we construct multiple purpose tunnels to accommodate traffic but that can also be used for flood alleviation?
The level of interest in the UK’s urban underground space is such that strategic subsurface planning is now needed to enable its fair use and to safeguard underground development of national importance, such as new transport infrastructure. Petr Salak, speaking on behalf of Think Deep UK commented, “We want to create a common vision for urban underground space to transform our cities for the benefit of society. To do this we need a master plan for underground space – this needs to be developed by experts across multiple disciplines, reforming policy to ensure a proactive, not reactive approach”.
Think Deep UK is a newly formed group of built environment experts - a combination of urban planners, architects, lawyers, geotechnical engineers and geologists -committed to creating resilient, sustainable and liveable cities through smart use of underground space.
About Think Deep UK: Think Deep UK (www.tduk.org) is a group of built environment experts committed to creating resilient, sustainable and liveable cities through smart use of underground space.
TDUK’s mission is to:
- promote an awareness of the value of underground space enabling its fair use.
- provide guidance and information to the public, decision makers, politicians and professionals as to the benefits of using urban underground space,
Through its work, TDUK aims to:
- Create a three-dimensional spatial planning strategy and define processes for safeguarding spaces underground
- Facilitate the bringing together of interested organisations and individuals with a singular campaigning voice
- Improve plans for future underground infrastructure and help coordinate a multi-disciplinary approach.
- Develop guidance and best practice