Magazine article The Futurist

Underground in China

Magazine article The Futurist

Underground in China

Article excerpt

As demands for housing and energy resources increase with the growth of populations, developers of the future may look to the past for efficient and effective solutions, suggests urban-design scholar Gideon S. Golany.

The ground may have been the first shelter ever used for human habitation, and large-scale cave-dwelling and underground communities have existed for millennia, Golany notes in his new book, Chinese Earth-sheltered Dwellings. Spurred by the energy crises of the 1970s, some of the world's most advanced nations started looking once again to the ground for efficient shelter. The results include underground houses in the United States, shopping centers in Japan and Canada, and industrial plants in Sweden.

In his study of ancient and modern underground structures in China, which he describes as an "excellent observatory," Golany found that a distinct advantage of underground dwellings for urban design is their compactness. A conventional American suburb with 194 living units takes nearly 35 acres of land, 13 acres of roads, and leaves no open space at all. …

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