Singapore To Start Utilizing Underground Space For Future Development

THE Government is studying how to use underground space for future development.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Grace Fu said on Monday the Government should invest in the creation of new land and space.

‘Just as Singapore has reclaimed land in advance to support economic growth in the past, our subcommittee recommends that the government acts early to catalyse the development of underground space,’ she said at a press conference at which the Economic Strategies Committee released its report.

via The Straits Times

Somehow, this really brings out the dork in me. It reminds me of so many post-apocalyptic novels I’ve read where people have resorted to living in tunnels under the earth.  Dorkiness aside, I can see this proving to be a very worthwhile step for Singapore in terms of development since the country has such a limited amount of horizontal space to work with.

Singapore could, in fact, use Montreal’s Underground City as an inspiration:

With over 32 km (20 mi) of tunnels spread over more than 12 km2 (4.6 sq mi), connected areas include shopping malls, apartment buildings, hotels, condominiums, banks, offices, museums, universities, seven metro stations, two commuter train stations, a regional bus terminal and the Bell Centre amphitheatre and arena. There are more than 120 exterior access points to the underground city. Each access point is an entry point to one of 60 residential or commercial complexes comprising 3.6 km2 (1.4 sq mi) of floor space, including 80% of all office space and 35% of all commercial space in downtown Montreal. In winter, some 500,000 people use the underground city every day. Because of its Underground City, Montreal is often referred to as the “Double-Decker City” or “Two Cities in One”.

via Wikipedia

Singapore already has quite a few underground tunnels that connect shopping centers together in the Orchard area as well as malls that descend for multiple stories below ground. These are both heavily used and readily accepted by the public. Having more structures underground that are used publicly like businesses, retail outlets and perhaps eating establishments, would integrate easily into Singapore’s landscape, especially since it offers a ‘cool’ factor. It could be called the Singapore Underground, and it could really be an extensive underground business and retail area.  It could really play out well with the right architect at the wheel and could even prove to be a tourist attraction.

So, what will Singapore actually use these underground areas for?  The government is just now starting talks about how to properly use the underground space but I think there are at least a few obvious answers, like storage and further transit links. Placing that sort of thing underground could free up Singapore’s limited surface area for more businesses or residences.

Hopefully Singapore sticks to just putting businesses underground. While I have a feeling that sometime in the future people might not mind living below ground, possibly with fake windows that project an image of sunny skies and green meadows (like in the offices at the beginning of the original Resident Evil movie), now is not that time. I think people still cherish the idea of living above ground, with cool breezes coming through their windows.

6 thoughts on “Singapore To Start Utilizing Underground Space For Future Development”

  1. I know what you mean. It's easy to say it, and even to perhaps draft it out on paper. Where things start to get difficult is when you have to think about all of the details of how it will affect the island as a whole.Singapore kind of lucks out with there not being earthquakes here, but I keep thinking that this is just the calm before the storm. One day an earthquake will hit Singapore. No one will be expecting it and everyone's going to go nuts. There was an earthquake in northern Illinois (or Wisconsin, forget which) a few weeks ago, which had people freaking out because that area isn't prone to earthquakes.Another thing they'll have to think of is whether or not digging that deep will cause the island to crumble when hit by a potential tsunami.With Singapore being an island, I don't think they'll ever go as deep as they wish they could. I already wonder how the train tunnels don't flood since they're below sea level.


  2. Hi Brad, while I like sunshine and cool breezes I also hate oil crusted dust and grit. Underground living has potential as it can eliminate a lot of the attendant problems of pollution so it can be a reality but only if further developments can improve energy resource and recycling as well as resolve human CO2 emissions. Technology is already available but it is too expensive and not feasible to support large population living presently. My opinion is that aboveground spaces should go toward conservation of fauna and flora to restore our earth's ecosystem. It is an attractive proposition though the issues are much more complex on closer examination. Can the geological structure of the island support subterranean residential cities? How deep can we go? The government also talks of use of nuclear power to reduce dependence on fossil fuel energy. Are the nuclear waste containment areas going underground as well? Are zoning measures good enough to ensure safety? The list goes on if you were to dig deeper and deeper. We are not talking about a couple of meters underground here but depths of up to 70 km. Not forgetting Singapore is surrounded by the “Ring of Fire”. Will digging so deep down weaken the island's ability to withstand tectonic activities of the region? Lots more questions than answers right now.


  3. Ya, the majority of housing in Singapore is high-rise, government subsidized apartments. There are very few regular neighborhoods left. At the rate the population is growing I expect Singapore will be one big city from coast to coast within the next 50 years or so.


  4. I'm hearin' ya Brad! There is nothing like a bit of good ol' fresh air and sunshine.Very interesting though, with limited real estate it seems a logical decision – well the choice is underground or high-rise. The high-rise option has already been exploited in Singapore, right?


  5. I dunno, Brad. Mainly because they'll be below the water level. Expensive pumping all the water during while building is in progress. Also, they might incur similar problems as other have where dredging generate fissures in the pavement on the other side of town.


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