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Alice city, not high-rise, but low-drop

Totally underground, totally self contained. Cost a few billion to build, but tokyo has the most exorbitant land prices in the world. The concept is alice in wonderland down the rabbit hole, so much to do so little time.


While North Americans endlessly debate trivial matters the Japanese continue to turn lemons into lemonade. Take land costs. The last acre of land sold in Tokyo went for US$7.8 BILLION. What do they see in that, disaster? No, to them that just opens up a whole new market. When land cost was in the millions per acre it cost two to three times as much to build underground as on the surface, so few did. Now with the cost in the billions entailed by building underground is relatively cheap. Underground is an idea whose time has come.

The Taisei Corporation of Tokyo sees a bright, sunny future underground. They have designed the self-contained "Alice City" (as in Lewis Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" wherein the heroine found enlightenment and wonder) an underground metropolis designed for the 24-hour-a-day 21st Century. They claim this is the new frontier -the GEOFRONTIER! With the Taisei plan, previously unused valuable underground space can be effectively used for many purposes

(ED: wonder if they've figured out that mines could be reused, that landfill could be re-excavated & reused, or that the earth removed from the excavation might contain useful stuff...).

For instance there are a large number above-ground installations that are able to be more effective underground.

(ED: eg )

Eg: Power stations, warehouses, railway yards, some specialized manufacturing facilities.

The Taisei plan does not stop there. They call for an elaborate infrastructure, office and town space. In their infrastructure areas, which are completly separate from other spaces, they plan power generation, regional heating, waste recycling and sewage treatment facilities. Office space will house business operations, shopping malls, hotels, theatres and sports arenas. Express elevators or an extension of an underground railway system will run to the bottom level. Solar domes or atrium space eliminates any feeling of claustrophobia. As some office, commercial and entertainment areas move underground, more open space will become available above ground. A ten minute vertical commute may replace a two hour commuting run from Tokyo suburbs.
Many advantages are rapidly discovered when operating a city underground. Heating costs for the entire city are almost totally eliminated, along with pollution above ground.

With a constant natural underground temperature the heat provided from the bodies of city inhabitants and the output of their machines can be collected, vented and sold to other buildings aboveground at competitive rates. Anyone who has seen the $2,500-a-second computer generated graphics at Toronto's underground tour of the Universe" theatre knows that one can very quickly forget he or she is underground when holographic vistas are visible outside the window.

ED: bullshit.

Underground space is ideal for any city's infrastructure from the standpoints of isolation, sound insulation and earthquake resistance. A major benefit is the preservation of above-ground environment. Construction costs have been studied in considerable depth, a 12 floor office space (80 metres deep) would cost about $577 million. An 80-metre diameter and 60-metre-high infrastructure space placed on 110 metres underground would run about $692 million. Total cost for a city of 100,000 is estimated at $4 billion, roughly half the price of one high-priced surface acre on Tokyo's Ginza strip!

But to the Japanese and their unbridled enthusiasm for the 21st Century this means more than just a few projects in their own country for today and tomorrow. They are aware that the world population explosion is going to increase considerably before it slows down, these ideas can work internationally. Mexico City for example is estimated to reach a population of 30 million within a decade. Other world cities face similar problems. With their experience, learned at home in building the world's first underground cities, the japanese will have the experience and engineering know-how to fulfill such contracts when other world cities reach the density and land cost levels of Tokyo.

More information: Tetsuya Hanamura, Chief, Alice City Project, Underground Space Development Office, Taisei Corporation, 25 - 1, Nishi-Shinjuku 1 Chome, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo. P.O. Box 4001, Shinjuku Center Bldg. 163, Japan. Fax: (03) 343-4046. Phone: Tokyo (03) 348-1111.

ED: the real problem is the water, going that far below the water table would give one some fairly serious damp issues, and that groundwater would be pretty high pressure. That's not necessarily a problem, it might be useful. Give the water somewhere to go, and make use of the energy from the pressure on the way.

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Tags: basement, low-drop, sub, subterranean, underground

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