Ondergrondse infrastructuur

Intelligent use of subsurface infrastructure for surface quality

This project is situated in the DIMI theme safe, sustainable deltas and metropolises with the connecting theme of resilient, durable infrastructure. It focuses on the urban renewal of (delta) metropolises and concentrates on the question how to design resilient, durable (subsurface) infrastructure in urban renewal projects using parameters of the natural system – linking in an efficient way (a) water cycle, (b) soil and subsurface conditions, (c) soil improvement technology, and (d) opportunities in urban renewal (e.g. urban growth or shrinkage). The subsurface is the technical space, the engine room of a city, housing the vital functions of water, electricity, sewers and drainage, but also housing the natural system that is crucial for a stable, green, healthy and liveable city. Especially the effects of climate change, the boosts for an energy transition and the fact that there are less financial mean makes the intelligent use of the subsurface more important.

By understanding and re-designing the engine room we aim for a more efficient overall system (starting from the subsurface and reflecting on the surface level). Moreover, the subsurface is a crowded place and without planning it there is no room to make use of novel solutions that the subsurface can offer cities for managing water, heat and renewable energy or underground space more efficiently.
The explorative method of this project brought forward insights and design methods for the urban renewal of (delta) metropolises where resilient, durable (subsurface) infrastructure is carefully balanced out with parameters of the natural system. The question “how can the different technological artefacts in the subsurface be synchronized offering more space and adding to a better urban quality?” is answered by taking procedural steps from the technology (the knowledge of) to the design of public space and urban main structures. In each step the translation from the engineering language to the language of the urban designer (and vice-versa) is done producing an informative and useful overview in how to relate technological artefacts to urban quality.
In order to reach interdisciplinary design, we used explorative research in creating a shared language. Explorative research has been useful because the problem we are tackling is a wicked problem that has not been clearly defined. The exploration was framed by co-creation in workshops and later a more precise elaboration of these results in the working group. The three main methods that build the framework are: Forecasting, backtracking and backcasting (Van de Dobbelsteen et al., 2006), Visualization and Vision making with adaptive pathways. As an outcome, by applying this framework, the direct relation between technology in the subsurface and the design of public space and urban main structures in urban development was made clear between the pool of participants in this project. In particular, the focus was placed on potential future synergies between technologies and their contribution to urban quality. This is the start of a working method that could include more technologies and a further elaboration of the visualization of the surface and subsurface as one united space.

Product, fase 1

Hooimeijer FL, Kuchincow Bacchin T and Lafleur F (eds.) (2016) Intelligent SUBsurface Quality: Intelligent use of subsurface infrastructure for surface quality. Delft: University of Technology. See: https://pure.tudelft.nl/portal/en/publications/intelligent-subsurface-quality(6eff83a8-d0c6-438e-aa42-0dbd03835ac9).html