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New underground space think tank launched

Underground space - Think deep

A new industry think tank has been launched to raise the potential of underground space around the world.

Think Deep UK has been set up by Dr. Sauer & Partners project manager Petr Salak who said he was committed to creating resilient, sustainable and liveable cities through smart use of underground space.

The group is made up of built environment experts, including urban planners, architects, lawyers, geotechnical engineers and geologists.

“We want to create a common vision for urban underground space to transform our cities for the benefit of society,” said Salak. “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”.

Member Han Admiraal, chair of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association’s Committee on Underground Space (Itacus) said that he wanted planners and companies starting thinking about combining the use of underground space.

“If you think about Crossrail 2, I would like to see people thinking about a system which does more than just transport people,” said Admiraal. “A good example is the cave beneath a cathedral in Helsinki where they have put in a data centre. They use the cold seawater to cool the system and the water heated by the data centre is then used to heat the homes of the houses in the vicinity of the surface.

“I think the idea behind Think Deep UK is that everyone that has some kind of knowledge about underground space and, whether you are a historian geologist or an engineer, to try to combine that knowledge and use that to decide on what can contribute to a city.”

Salak hopes to lobby the government to reduce the amount of legislation which hampers projects.

“I see underground space as a resource and there are millions of ways in which you can use it, you can use it for energy, underground car parks, underground shopping malls and even growing food underground,” said Salak. “There is a lot which you can do with underground space, you just need to be smart about it.”

Workshops on different aspects of underground space will be held throughout the year. A white paper will be produced and presented to the government based on the results of the discussions.

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