The space under cities is getting busier – from transport excavations to billionaire’s mega-basements. So how to keep track of what’s down there?
In London, a city with 150 years of trenching, digging and boring to its name, the chaos is reaching new depths. According to Newcastle University’s Global Urban Research Unit, more than 4,600 basements have been granted planning permission in the last decade – in just seven of London’s 32 boroughs.
The space under London is now getting so busy that the Ordnance Survey, Future Cities Catapult and the British Geological Survey have joined forces to create a new initiative called Project Iceberg, which will attempt to aggregate cities’ subterranean data. In London it will include transport tunnel information, geological records and maps of 1.5m km (0.9m miles) of underground utilities and four million kilometres of telecommunications lines.