Underground Workspaces: A Human Factors Approach

  • Chee-Kiong Soh
  • Vicknaeshwari Marimuther
  • George I. Christopoulos
  • Adam C. RobertsEmail author
  • Josip Car
  • Kian-Woon Kwok
Conference paper
Part of the Advances in Intelligent Systems and Computing book series (AISC, volume 825)


With increasing population density in urban areas, underground space use in these urban centres is also on the rise. This can be in the form of more traditional underground (UG) facilities, such as water treatment plants and subway stations, but also more diversified uses such as underground offices and data centres. As these relatively novel underground workspaces are constructed, we need to take a human centric approach to ensure that the workers are happy and healthy. When designing any space, it is important to consider the relationships between the environmental, architectural characteristics and behavior and wellbeing. This is crucial in underground developments, as the initial cost of developing an underground space is significantly higher (at least in the short term) than aboveground and would have to be offset by a longer building life. Previous studies show negative attitudes towards working underground and hint at possible psychological and health complaints. Major themes include lighting and circadian rhythms, metabolic changes and claustrophobia. However, these studies are over thirty years old and mainly concentrate on self-report measures. To respond to this challenge, we have systematically examined the relationship between underground spaces and human performance in a 4 year research program. Using mixed methods such as psychophysiological measurements, cognitive tests and interviews, we examine the architectural and engineering choices that could impact or mitigate specific issues related to underground work environment.


Underground Workspace Human factors Cognition Social Health Architecture Psychology 



This material is based on research/work supported by the Land and Liveability National Innovation Challenge (L2 NIC) Award No. L2NICCFP1-2013-2 (PI: Chee-Kiong Soh). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the L2 NIC.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Civil and Environmental EngineeringNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Nanyang Business SchoolNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  3. 3.Lee Kong Chian School of MedicineNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  4. 4.School of Humanities and Social SciencesNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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