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Underground planning

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Tom D'Haeyer
Tom D'Haeyer Business Development Manager

The often overlooked layer in urban planning

When we think of urban planning, we think of buildings, roads, green-blue infrastructure etc. We do not often consider  underground as a vital part of that system. There’s an enormous amount of potential in this layer of urban planning and interest is rising.

Building Underground

Man has built cities underground for thousands of years. In 2014, a 5,000 year old underground city was found in Turkey that had been home to about 20,000 people. To this day, these concepts are still very valid: in Montréal, the RESO is an underground city consisting of 32km of tunnels connecting offices, shopping centers, residential complexes, etc. The network is particularly useful during Montreal's long winters, during which over half a million people are estimated to use it every day. This kind of massive underground construction cannot be built anywhere: it takes specific expertise in terms of geotechnical aspects, groundwater expertise, etc. to plan such an endeavor. Antea Group can provide the knowledge and experience for such complex projects.


We all know the metro as a highly efficient transportation system. It doesn’t come into conflict with the above-ground traffic and can therefore move massive amounts of passengers at any time during the day. The same advantages apply to the transportation of goods, liquids and gases through pipelines. Therefore, pipeline corridors are set up all across the globe, especially in densely populated areas. That way, space is being reserved in order to add pipelines over time, without having to go through a rigid urban planning process every time. Antea Group studied the feasibility of such a corridor between the Antwerp harbor and the industrial Ruhr region in Germany.

The often overlooked layer in urban planning
The often overlooked layer in urban planning


Vast amounts of energy are stored in the underground layer. We’re still discovering its full potential, but with developments in storing heat/cold and in geothermal energy, ways in reducing the use of fossil fuels are being found These very important features of the underground layer have already been mapped out in many countries, thereby providing the necessary info to assess the potential for energy sourcing or storage. Our team is perfectly able to interpret the data and provide you with sound advice on the subject.

Soil Pollution

In order to sustainably develop future communities, we have to reduce greenfield developments. Urban densification and regeneration are the concepts we must focus on. This may bring about concerns on the historic pollution of old industrial sites. This contamination can be severe, but can also be remediated, i.e. within the context of a redevelopment project. However, there’s more to it: contamination can spread through groundwater, which is a major aspect in building projects. Our team can provide you with thorough advice in the early design and planning stages in order to avoid major costs in the development phase.

Effects and impacts

Knowing that the underground layer still has a massive amount of potential for different applications, how do we manage them all in order to avoid negative impacts on the natural, regulating characteristics? This is where underground planning can excel.  Starting from an expert knowledge of the underground system, the impact of multiple scenarios can be assessed in order to define which developments are suitable for a specific location or region. We have the team to do this: experts in geotechnics, pipelines, sustainable energy, soil remediation, groundwater modelling, urban planning, etc. Let’s get to the bottom of this!

Have any questions?

Contact us to discuss your spatial and urban planning needs.

Tom D'Haeyer
Tom D'Haeyer Business Development Manager

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