If the subsurface is to be used to the degree which it merits, it is necessary to integrate it into the planning process at a level corresponding to that of other kinds of construction. Consideration of the subsurface alternatives must take place at an overall and detail planning level and among those actually concerned. It is essential that basic information include sufficient data on geology and that the planners themselves are aware of the advantages and drawbacks of subsurface use. Society should not content itself with a passive supervisory roll but also actively stimulate considerations of subsurface use. This should not only involve planning and construction but also relevant legislation, information, research and training. A central institution for subsurface construction would seem to be required.


When suitable conditions exist the use of subsurface space can be greatly advantageous both to the owner of the installation1 and to society as a whole. There are good reasons to regard the use of subsurface space as a resource within the field of community planning comparable to, for example, buildings and roads. It is consequently of interest to study how society takes this resource into consideration. What measures are taken to encourage its beneficial use (and to avoid its misuse)? The Swedish Building Code is at present being reviewed. It is generally agreed that subsurface use should be taken into account, e.g. by obligatory examination for building permission. It is, however, being discussed to what extent society should be involved and what guidelines should direct the formulation of the law. These guidelines are ·of vital interest as they will also influence regulations and recommendations to come. What is said below are to be considered contributions to this discussion. Installation is, for the purpose of this paper, taken to mean underground installation.


In Sweden few parties are involved in subsurface construction. A few central or municipal departments and a few industries are principals for by far the greater part of existing installations. Naturally, most of them are to be found in the largest towns. However, in some smaller towns, for example, Trollhattan, many installations are to be found, while in others with comparable conditions there are none at all. This is due to the level of familiarity with the technique. When familiar with the technique you are likely to take subsurface alternatives into consideration. This knowledge is well represented within a rather restricted circle of people, mainly professionals at the government departments mentioned as well as among contractors and consultants. The representatives of the consumers such as politicians, physical planners, other government departments, decision makers within industry and others, are generally poorly or not at all acquainted with the technique. Consequently, they are in a poor position when it comes to considering the subsurface alternative. So far, subsurface construction in Sweden has been astonishingly anonymous considering its importance. Central and municipal authorities have normally paid very little attention to subsurface projects, for instance, building permits are not normally required.

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