Singapore's (costly) underground ambitions

Singapore's (costly) underground ambitions
An artist's impression of the underground science city beneath Kent Ridge Park.

SINGAPORE - As Singapore developers start gearing up for a subterranean future, experts have warned of the pitfalls of going underground.

They say plans for a possible network of tunnels, malls and research labs could fall foul of the island's patchy soil formations and built-up landscape.

These factors could push up costs and make life difficult for planners, who would need to get even more businesses on board.

On the other hand, burrowing into the earth could provide valuable room to build in space-scarce Singapore."Our land boundary is finite," said Professor Yong Kwet Yew of the National University of Singapore's civil and environment engineering department.

"However, the only limit on underground space is the commercial viability of the project."

Earlier this month, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in a blog post that the Government was mulling over the possibility of an underground masterplan to make the city "even more exciting and liveable".

These developments could include malls, pedestrian links, cycling lanes and research facilities.

Yet, engineers and analysts say building them could be hard going in many areas due to the the varied nature of Singapore's rock and soil formations.

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