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Making better use of our underground space

  Published: 30 May 2018

How do we free up more land for living and community activities? Can more underground space be unlocked? Will technology help us push the boundaries for underground space? Innovative ideas for the planning and development of underground space were unveiled in an exhibition titled “Underground: Singapore’s Next Frontier”, launched by Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong this afternoon.

The exhibition includes key underground projects that have made innovative use of technology, and examines how Singapore can learn from best practices in other cities for underground development. The aim is to generate more discussions between government, industry and stakeholders on using underground space, and spark ideas on new ways to apply technology for future developments.

Growing need for space


Cities around the world face an increasing need for land as they grow. The pressure to expand a city’s space is especially acute for a city-state like Singapore, which has to provide for the needs of both a city and a country.

To expand our land and free up more space for living and community activities, Singapore has been using different methods to make better use of space, including the consolidation of activities with large land footprints, co-locating developments, reclamation, and using underground space.

The use of underground space for rail, roads, utilities and pedestrian links is common to many metropolitan cities. Going underground makes better use of land and space, and improves the quality of our environment by freeing up surface land for more liveable uses. Singapore has no plans for underground homes. The priority is to continue placing uses such as rail lines, utilities, warehousing and storage facilities underground.

Underground infrastructure and utilities in Singapore

Placing infrastructure and utilities underground, such as the Common Services Tunnel in Marina Bay, has resulted in land and space savings. For example, the underground district cooling system in Marina Bay has removed the need for buildings in the area to have individual chiller plant rooms and cooling towers on rooftops. This has freed up building roof space for other uses, such as observation decks and restaurants that the public can enjoy.

“As a small, highly-urbanised city-state, Singapore has made good headway in freeing up surface land for more liveable uses such as housing, parks and community activities. It is timely for us to take stock of our progress in using underground space and consider our next steps in this journey. Given the advances in digital and 3D technology, more can be done to tap on innovations in these fields to facilitate the upfront planning of our underground space with above ground uses.

I hope that this exhibition not only sparks more discussions and potential collaborations on underground developments, but also encourages members of public and stakeholders to share their views and ideas on underground space with us.”, said Mr Lim Eng Hwee, Chief Executive Officer of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA).

The exhibition showcases key milestones in Singapore’s underground journey. Another exhibition highlight is an underground benchmarking study that looked at the extent of underground development in Singapore compared with 10 global cities including Tokyo, Seoul, Hong Kong, Montreal and Helsinki.

Visitors will also be able to use augmented reality to ‘see’ how utilities are laid beneath roads, versus placing them in dedicated spaces such as common services tunnels. Please refer to the Annex [PDF, 287kb] for exhibition highlights.

Organised by URA in collaboration with agencies and the industry, “Underground: Singapore’s Next Frontier” is the latest in the Urban Lab series of exhibitions which aim to bring research out of the labs and into the community. Members of public can visit the “Underground: Singapore’s Next Frontier” exhibition at The URA Centre Atrium from 30 May to 29 June. Admission is free. For more information, visit https://ura.sg/underground.


Speech by Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance, at the Launch of the “Underground: Singapore’s Next Frontier” Exhibition

 

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