Essay An Interview With Norman Foster

Essay An Interview With Norman Foster

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‘Population growth and the advent of mega cities are increasing the pressure on sensitive areas. The underground has enormous potential for realising spatial benefits. You could say that one of the greatest challenges facing mankind is to achieve higher density while at the same time improving urban existence. In many cases you can also create a certain amount of open space by situating facilities underground.’
This was an interview with Norman Foster by Ernst von Meijenfeldt discussing about the potential of underground space. Land as the primary resources for the development of cities is scarce and limited. From industrial land oriented planning, cities’ urban planning agenda is slowly approaching towards mixed use urban development. Therefore, some functions that usually took up much spaces above ground, for instance offices, cafés and restaurants or shopping centres, could partly be incorporated in underground. So that to reduce the pressure at surface level. Then, to create a better pedestrian environment and circulation by creating underground networks that connect the underground shops with metro stations. For example in Montreal, Singapore and Tokyo, building underground shopping centre that connects to metro stations have long been part of their cities’ scenery.
One of the case studies that demonstrates the benefits of connecting underground retail outlets with metro stations and underground pedestrian pathways is Tokyo Station City project in Japan. It illustrates an urban development process where underground infrastructures happened to play a fundamental role in improving cities’ pedestrian environment and circulation, while bringing economic benefits to the society. Since early expansion of the railw...


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...in order to ensure the underground users’ safety and security, especially the legibility of pathways. A good legible pathways means having a clear signs indicating the routes, borders, intersections and distinctive spaces in the underground network. The main idea of having these signs is to help the underground users to form a clear image of their surroundings.
Overall, it is an advantage to combine the underground commercial facilities with metro stations because from an economic aspects, it generates income for the society. Moreover, if a compact city decided to place a commercial space – shopping malls – in the underground and turned its massive footprint into an open space, it not only reduce the surface pressure but also create a new urban environment that provides more green space and space for sports and recreation. Thus, a closer step to a “liveable” city.

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