Smart City development concepts aim to make cities more liveable, efficient, technologically advanced, ecological and socially inclusive.

It is assumed that around 70% of the world's population will live in large cities by 2050. The underground will play a key role in implementing such smart city concepts as space above ground becomes sparse.

For example, the underground can contribute to energy & data management systems, realization of sponge cities, underground living, underground food production and more.

The Hagerbach Test Gallery is an ideal environment to test such smart city concepts before implementation.

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Underground Energy Systems for smart cities

With the development of these cities, different energy levels such as transportation systems, smart grids and microgrids have emerged, which pose various challenges for the multidimensional energy management system.

For example, the control and availability of different forms of energy must be ensured for millions of people in a relatively small space. Underground energy systems that are interconnected, controllable and powered by renewable energy sources can serve as a beacon for the global development of smart cities with limited environmental impact.

More about energy solutions research at Hagerbach.

Edge Computing Underground!
A real scale prototype at Hagerbach.

The future "smart cities," becoming increasingly densely populated, will encounter spatial and energy limitations due to limited available space and escalating energy demands. The concept of "Edge Computing Underground!" presents an efficient solution that is space-saving, cost-effective, secure, and resource-efficient.

More about the Edge Computing Underground! prototype and concept.

A sponge city is a smart city

Another aspect of smart cities is the concept of the sponge city, which refers to an urban environment that mimics the ability of a sponge to absorb and store water when it rains and then release and utilize the stored water as needed to facilitate the movement of rainwater within the city. A sponge city is highly resilient to water-related disasters. Through the clever use of underground space, it is possible to build or expand underground water reservoirs and tunnels.

A sponge city can strengthen its capacity to protect against flooding and increase the quality of life by lowering temperatures by several degrees during the hottest season. Such organic integration of sponge cities will be conducive to the long-term sustainability of human society in cities.

The Hagerbach Test Gallery, with its expandable underground space, provides a safe and controllable underground environment for the development and testing of new technologies for smart water (and energy) control in urban areas.

digitalization testing for a Smart City

Digitalization in future smart cities is vital for efficiency, sustainability, innovation, citizen engagement, resilience, and safety. However, testing different scenarios and options before implementation is crucial to ensure successful outcomes. By simulating various scenarios, cities can anticipate challenges, identify optimal solutions, and mitigate risks.

Testing allows for adjustments based on real-world data and stakeholder feedback, ensuring that implemented solutions align with the city's goals and meet the needs of its residents. Additionally, testing helps optimize resource allocation, minimize disruptions, and maximize the benefits of digitalization initiatives.

Overall, thorough testing before implementation enhances the likelihood of successful outcomes and fosters the development of smarter, more resilient cities.

Tunnel Digitalisation Centre at Hagerbach

One place where allready today tests can be conducted is the Tunnel Digitalization Centre. Since 2019 the centre allows for demonstration and simulation in a realistic enviroment. Demonstrating new technologies and innovative concepts on a 1:1 scale enhances comprehension of intricate processes and procedures, while also ensuring a high level of cost-effectiveness.

More at the underground future lab:

Energy Solutions

This includes circular and renewable production, transformation, on-site storage, distribution of energy / heat and in the focus areas “City” and “Construction Sites”


Space Habitats & Safety

This includes all research and prototyping to evaluate, test and engineer underground or extra-terrestrial living and mobility spaces


Underground and heavy construction

This includes all research on how infrastructures of the future can be constructed and operated in a circular way with low energy use and minimum emission from the design over construction to de-commissioning.