skip to content

Cambridge Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction

Transforming infrastructure through smarter information

Underground spaces are an increasingly valuable commodity in land-constrained and highly populated cities. Currently, the use of these spaces has been expanding in a piecemeal manner. Constrained access and diverse economics of underground infrastructure for transport, energy, water and waste require an understanding of multiple, overlapping networked industries. It is only by carefully examining the system of systems that cross-sectoral optimisation can be considered.

Translucent City is a collaborative research project that brings focus to the adaptability of underground spaces within densely populated cities. The aim is to engineer a translucent city to radically transform the usage of the subterranean part of a city, with physical infrastructure woven together with virtual infrastructure, while considering the evolution of human behaviour when circumstances or infrastructure changes.

Led by CSIC as part of the Global Alliance (a collaboration between the University of Cambridge/CSIC, the University of California, Berkeley and the National University of Singapore), Translucent City will provide cross-disciplinary study that integrates the subterranean part of a city with the above ground ‘visible’ systems – an area of research that has, until now, been under examined.

The ultimate goal of this project is to develop new research to support novel, cross-sectoral design and urban standards that enable the seamless optimisation of physical and virtual infrastructure as a whole and the growth of innovation and new technologies in the three Global Alliance cities (London, Singapore and San Francisco) as a precursor to worldwide potential.

The translucent city is a frontier of knowledge that has potentially much wider benefits than improving the efficiency of engineering systems. It has the potential to transform the environmental, social and economic functioning of cities.


Download the full case study here.