Urban Design’s Final Frontier: Underground


Cities have expanded upward and outward. There’s nowhere else to go — except down. Turns out that urban design’s final frontier is not as dark and dreary as some might think.

According to Smithsonian magazine, below-ground development offers some distinct advantages: facades are not exposed to the elements and lighting costs are offset by savings from lower heating and cooling bills.

For sprawling cities with expensive real estate, underground development is an increasingly attractive option. While the lack of sunlight is a significant negative, the magazine reports that a new invention called “remote skylights” can illuminate below-ground habitats using the sun’s rays, rather than a simulation of natural light.

The tiny island nation of Singapore, with little land left for expansion, is looking seriously at underground development.

Here are a few notable proposed uses of underground urban space:

Lowline | World’s first underground park (NYC)

Earthscraper | Inverted pyramid skyscraper (Mexico City)


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