As Above, So Below: Tapping into the Latent Energy of Abandoned Underground Infrastructure

Alexandra N. Ramirez

This thesis was nominated for the 2017 Thesis Prize Jury.

Thesis Advisors: Bess Krietemeyer with Tarek Rakha and David Shanks


How can architects formalize the use of surplus energy to reach more people in a more systematic way? Abandoned underground infrastructure is an example of an untapped surplus in energy that the architect has the opportunity to repurpose. Tunnels in particular, can be used as systems to heat or cool a network of buildings above ground to create more sustainable urban environments. In addition the system could also have beneficial social implications within segregated cities by providing fluid connections between divided neighborhoods.

This thesis will establish a framework for repurposing underground infrastructures. The strategy operates under an umbrella of sustainability and urban improvement which are two concepts applicable to sites far beyond the ones researched here. This thesis tries to imagine creative ways in which the architect can redirect a type of surplus energy to benefit the layman and in turn, the greater economic and social sphere.