Special Issue "Going Underground. Making Heritage Sustainable"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 July 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Ernesto Marcheggiani
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, UNIVPM, Ancona, 60131, Italy and Division of Forest, Nature and Landscape, KU Leuven, Celestijnenlaan, Leuven, 300, Belgium
Interests: rural development and regional development; spatial planning; geomatics; landscape ecology and complexity; tourism and heritage
Mr. Giuseppe Pace
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Studies on the Mediterranean, National Research Council of Italy, Naples, 80134, Italy
Interests: strategic planning; community empowerment; sustainability; collective learning processes; transition management; identity and cultural heritage

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The current experience of the COST action CA18110 “Underground Built Heritage as Catalyser for Community Valorisation” is pointing out the need to improve the current means, methods, policies, and practice for producing a balanced and sustainable approach to Underground Built Heritage conservation and promotion. This Special Issue focuses on two main research fields. The first is concentrated on holistic approaches to UBH conservation and re-use, while the second on the introduction in the cultural heritage of the paradigm of living labs, based on co-creation, co-development and co-management.

This Special Issue aims to value the underground space as a depository of local identity and history, placing its cultural component as a catalyst for a broader strategy of community engagement and regeneration policies. The overarching idea is to reverse the current sectoral planning literature approach, which considers only the spatial value of the underground, as an affordable solution for locating new urban functions and saving surface space for urban development.

To that end, this Special Issue aims at stimulating multidisciplinary papers and the cross-fertilization of knowledge among scientists (i.e., historians, architects, engineers, archaeologists, planners, geologists, etc.), practitioners, public officials, and technicians, such interdisciplinary initiatives being rather limited in the field of underground space. This issue would like to introduce tools, suitable for both neighborhood and district planning level and for single UBH interventions, very flexible for upscaling and easily replicable in different social, economic, and cultural urban regeneration contexts, characterized by different underground sites, local service demand, touristic potential, legal frameworks, and stakeholders. Finally, the call has the purpose of collecting specific case studies on UBH, characterized by interventions of urban and rural regeneration, or by experiences of sustainable tourism and creative entrepreneurship. The papers should investigate interaction mechanisms among the various actors involved, such as public institutions, private stakeholders, and local communities, and advance understanding, from both a theoretical and practical point of view, of the policy conditions allowing the conservation and valorization of UBH sites. In particular, they should investigate the best approaches for developing trust and transparency among different stakeholders, public and private, global and local, and how to integrate heritage aspects into sectoral policies. Only transparent and integrated policies will make it possible to achieve a cooperative approach by the authorities responsible for restoration and conservation, especially in the case of new functions for an underground artefact. As demonstrated by many success stories, UBH added-value increases when combined with objectives from other policies, such as spatial policy, water, energy or transport.


Admiraal H, Narang Suri S (Eds) (2015) Think Deep: Planning, development and use of underground space in cities ISOCARP (ISBN: 978-94-90354-34-3) 

Akkar Ercan, M. (2013), Urban regeneration and sustainable community development in historic neighborhoods of Istanbul. The Routledge Companion to Urban Regeneration. M.E. Leary and J. McCarthy (eds.) Routledge: London. pp. 443-454

Brüll A. et al. (2017) Territorial cohesion through cross-border landscape policy? The European case of the Three Countries Park (BE-NL-DE), Change and Adaptation in Socio-Ecological Systems, 3(1) 68–92 https://doi.org/10.1515/cass-2017-0007

Čakovská B., Bihuňová M., Hansen P., Marcheggiani E., Galli A. (2019) Methodological Approaches to Reflect on the Relationships Between People, Spaces, Technologies (pp. 251-261). In: Smaniotto Costa C. et al. (eds) CyberParks – The Interface Between People, Places and Technology. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, vol 11380. Springer, Cham.

A Chua, L Servillo, E Marcheggiani, AV Moere (2016) Mapping Cilento: Using geotagged social media data to characterize tourist flows in southern Italy, Tourism Management 57, 295-310

Elisei P., Draghia M., Dane G., Onesciuc N., (2019) Cultural Heritage adaptive reuse for sustainable development pathways in creative and knowledge cities, Changing cities IV conference, Chania.

Genovese L, Yan H, Quattrocchi A, (eds) (2018), Preserving, Managing, and Enhancing the Archaeological Sites: Comparative Perspectives between China and Italy, CNR, Rome.

Hubert Gulinck, Ernesto Marcheggiani, Anna Verhoeve, Kirsten Bomans, Valerie Dewaelheyns, Frederik Lerouge, Andrea Galli (2018) The fourth regime of open space Sustainability 10 (7), 2143

Menezes M. & Costa D., Rodrigues D. (Eds.) Proceedings of IMaTTe - International conference on the values of tangible heritage. LNEC: Lisbon.

Pace, G. (2019), “Underground Built Heritage as catalyser for Community Valorisation”, in Conference Proceedings of 55th ISOCARP World Planning Congress in Jakarta/Bogor, Indonesia, pp. 1250-1260

Roberto Pierdicca, Marina Paolanti, Raffaele Vaira, Ernesto Marcheggiani, Eva Savina Malinverni, Emanuele Frontoni (2019) Identifying the use of a park based on clusters of visitors' movements from mobile phone data, Journal of Spatial Information Science (19), 29-52

Synnes, Kåre, Artopoulos, Georgios, Smaniotto Costa C., Menezes, Marluci, Redaelli, Gaia (2019). CyberParks Songs and Stories - Enriching Public Spaces with Localized Culture Heritage Material such as Digitized Songs and Stories. In Smaniotto Costa, C. et al. (Eds.) (2019): CyberParks - The Interface Between People, Places and Technology - New Approaches and Perspectives. Springer, Series: Information Systems and Applications LNCS 11380, 224-237. Doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-13417-4_18

Varriale R. (2019), Re-Inventing Underground Space in Matera, Heritage 2019, 2(2), 1070-1084

Zalamea Patiño, O., Van Orshoven, J., & Steenberghen, T. (2017) Merging and expanding existing ontologies to cover the Built Cultural Heritage domain. Journal of Cultural Heritage Management and Sustainable Development, 8(2), 162-178.

Prof. Ernesto Marcheggiani
Mr. Giuseppe Pace
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.


  • underground built heritage
  • community empowerment
  • urban and rural regeneration
  • place management
  • sustainability transition
  • heritage conservation

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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