News and Events

Here we share our upcoming events, latest research and news from around the world - if you have any projects or new underground discoveries you would like to share then please let us know!


Social benefits of underground space:
moving from cost to value


In October 2017 Think Deep UK brought together urban planners, economists, geotechnical engineers, geologists, tunnellers, public servants, researchers and other professionals to debate the social value of urban underground space.  Hosted at IDEA London, and under the guidance of social value experts from PwC, HS2, Arup and Volterra, the workshop participants considered how we might define and measure the social value delivered by underground space.

Social value is ambiguous

Listening to Stuart Jefford (PwC) and Bridget Jackson (HS2) it became clear that social value is not clearly defined, that there are many different definitions, frameworks, guides and policy documents for social value which generates confusion and ambiguity.  Some define social value in its narrowest sense, others include environmental and economic benefits.  Some encourage economic valuation and financial indicators whilst other advocate more qualitative measures.  Social value as concept is not mainstream and government projects tend to adopt ‘benefits management’ as a broader framework.

The principal drivers to evaluate social value for large infrastructure projects appear to be cost and risk.  From the outset the business case needs to be proved and as such the social value assessment is intimately linked with the cost-benefit analysis and the design life of the scheme. As such, only the tractable, evidence-based social benefits can be easily accounted for.  Is such a process ‘future proof’?  How can we go beyond domain-specific objectives and context-specific extrapolations to capture the broader societal need over future generations?

Benefits and beneficiaries, connectivity and community

There was consensus among the experts at the workshop that underground development is currently viewed as problematic, the benefits are not highlighted sufficiently and the evidence base for the benefits needs articulating.  The challenge to balance individual preferences, community benefits and national interests was acknowledged as was the trade-off between long-term benefits and short-term costs.  Communicating the social benefits and impacts was considered key, explaining the value of underground space utilisation and making the benefits more visible. 

Early stage consultation with potential beneficiaries and community-led engagement were considered markers of success, with our speakers highlighting individual successes where public consultation had led to enhancement of social value - and not always with financial implications.  Such approaches have potential to refocus project development from purely economic endeavours to socially inclusive processes.  In this way the full potential of underground development, which may have a higher initial cost but greater long-term benefits, could be realised.

Views from the experts

Workshop participants

Workshop participants

"If social value is a proactive part of a project, right from the feasibility stage, we have a clearer way to communicate to the public."

"We need to find better ways to include social value in project appraisal. If we do that we will probably come up with different and better answers."

"When we articulate value in a traditional way we take quite a singular view to it. But when you start to look at the social and environmental benefits, you can start to articulate the story in a way of multiple beneficiaries."

"Often we build under the ground to facilitate other things elsewhere - the benefits are not in the underground space itself but what it allows to be created on the surface"

Our next workshop is on Future Transport, to be held in London on the 30th November.  To register your interest please email thinkdeep@tduk.org


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Hyperloop system for Europe

Hyperloop One's Vision for Europe presented on June 6th in Amsterdam was all about bringing a Hyperloop system to Europe. Hyperloop One showcased their technology as well as proposed European routes for a Hyperloop One system.

KEYNOTE: Melanie Schultz van Haegen, Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Environment

    Event kicked off Hyperloop One’s Global Challenge meetings on June 7th with European semi finalists who demonstrated how their proposals will economically benefit their region to a panel of experts in transportation, technology, economics and innovation. The UK strong points are the Northern ARC, UK Spine (North-South Connector) and UK Scotland-Wales.

    From the use of underground space perspective it was clear that teams are thinking about tunnels & underground stations to deliver this system into our busy cities. This makes us think even more about the importance of strategic planning & safeguarding of underground space. Think Deep UK will certainly focus on this challenge in 2017 to help create cities we need. 

    PRESENTATIONS by HYPERLOOP ONE:

    • Rob Lloyd, CEO & Board Member
    • Josh Giegel, Co-Founder & President of Engineering
    • Dr. Alan James, VP of Worldwide Business Development

    PANEL DISCUSSION ABOUT THE FUTURE OF TRANSPORTATION:

    • Isabel Dedring, Formerly Mayor of London’s Deputy Mayor for Transport, Global Transport Leader at Arup
    • Chris Brown, Partner Norton Rose Fulbright, and global head of Financial Investors group
    • Risto Penttilä, CEO, Finland Chamber of Commerce and Secretary General of European Business Leaders’ Convention

    Launch event

    TDUK held its launch event on Tuesday 7th Feb 2017 and it was a great success! Excellent attendance and engaging input into the topic left us feeling that we are on the right track and that we should be thinking deeper about underground space. A thank you for our speakers, all support we received from our endorsement groups and our sponsors:
    BASF, Bekaert Maccaferri, CH2M, Dr. Sauer & Partners
    Weston Williamson + Partners, Urben, Blue Dot Media
    BTS, BGS, ITACUS

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    Farringdon tour

    On 6 September 2016 Think Deep UK members and guests undertook a tour of the Crossrail construction site at Frarringdon Station.  This was a privileged opportunity to see the station at an advanced stage of construction but well ahead of public access. After an informative tour led by BFK, the group enjoyed drinks and continued their discussion at a nearby pub hosted by Dr. Sauer & Partners. 


    Geothermal power in Reykjavik 

    Iceland’s capital is trying to become the world’s first carbon neutral city by 2040. By reducing urban sprawl and encouraging more walking and cycling, the city hopes to build on progress already made in reducing carbon -  with all of Reykjavík’s houses already using geo-thermal heating and hydroelectricity.


    Clyde Workshop

    Think Deep UK is supporting the International Society of City and Regional Planners and International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association's Committee on Underground Space to host a workshop in Glasgow 23 - 28 October 2016 for integration of above and below ground infrastructure and urban design in the redevelopment of Clyde Waterfront.


    Burying a planning disaster

    Like many cities, Rochdale in New York is trying to salvage it's urban fabric from a legacy of 1950s freeway construction. Working with the Every Place Counts Design Challenge, the city is trying to follow the lead of cities like Boston and Seoul (above), to create quality public spaces by relocating roads underground. 


    Why are the streets always under construction?

    With great illustrations by Eiko Ojala, Emily Rueb explores the labyrinth of aging infrastructure beneath New York's busy streets, describing the city as a subterranean layer cake.

     


    Basement Tax

    The City of Westminster are introducing a levy to planning applications for residential basement extensions.  Under the emerging policy, applicants will need to pay approximately £8,000 - £30,000 for environmental health officers to monitor construction impacts such as traffic, noise and subsidence.