Underground Infrastructure

White Paper 


Thrust 3: Underground Infrastructure

Thrust Leaders: Asst Prof Wong Ngai Yuen, Louis
Assoc Prof Zhao Zhiye

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JTC Co-leaders: PM/Chong Pui Chih
SECS/ Chan Yihui

Focus Area:
  • Geological Investigation Management.
  • Engineering Geology & rock mechanics.
  • Hydrogeology.
  • Tunnel fire safety assessment and evacuation tool.
  • Environmental/Societal/Economical Impact assessment
  • Advanced excavation technologies.
  • Confined space optimization.
  • Confined space infrastructure systems.

With restrictions of current land creation and intensification efforts, Singapore has to look at new ways to optimize land use. Underground cavern development is one of the innovative solutions that can be adopted to generate more space. By moving less productive surface facilities underground, it frees up the land for higher value added activities.

The cavern developments can be built in single or multiple layers where the rock mass is good. They are especially useful in supporting the growth of densely built-up cities and estates where lateral and upward expansions are limited. As they are located in solid rock mass, they do not create stability issues for the foundation of existing structures. It can also help to enhance the city’s built environment, livability and release more land for social recreation by locating unsightly facilities deep underground.

Singapore has limited local experience and capability in deep rock cavern construction and operations. The first underground rock cavern is the Mandai Underground Ammunition Facility and the second one is Jurong Rock Caverns, currently under construction.

We will look into different aspects of underground rock cavern development from planning to construction. This will help us understand the characterization of rock mass and groundwater flow which are important parts of rock cavern construction. Such a characterization study requires a combination of site investigation, field and laboratory tests. Numerical modeling is also essential.

We will also look into different advanced excavation technologies to enable construction at lower cost and risks. In addition, we will propose suitable infrastructure for locating in underground caverns. This will in turn build up related technical competencies in rock cavern development in Singapore.

With consideration that people is occupying and working inside the underground development, risk management will be studied. We will also look into the psychological effects and how human may behave and react to situations when working inside a confined and underground condition.