City of Holes

[Image: Courtesy of the Nottingham Caves Survey].

Some new images of the ongoing laser-scan project taking place in the caves beneath Nottingham, England, have been released. “The Nottingham Caves Survey is in the process of recording all of Nottingham’s 450+ sandstone caves,” the organizers explain.

From malting caves and circular kilns to a 19th-century underground butcher, via the Shire Hall and, of course, Mortimer’s Hole, it’s intoxicating to imagine a city whose most exciting discoveries lie somewhere far below its own streets and urban surfaces, in a delirious sprawl of artificially enlarged sandstone caves.

[Images: Courtesy of the Nottingham Caves Survey].

Check out this video, below, which is basically just a fly-and-walk-through of the resulting scans.

Like the short film La Subterranea, which we screened a few years back at the Silver Lake Film Fest, the video suggests a fundamentally porous urban world in which, as Alex Trevi writes, “day and night, laser scanners that have gone mobile will be deployed into these voids, and bit by pinprick bit, these labyrinths that once confounded, concealed and even consumed trespassers with their disorienting mazes will resolve into total comprehensibility. Every detail will be known to you.”

The city, CAT-scanned, becomes a labyrinth of complete transparency.

Imagine, for instance, a city consumed by its own archaeology—a hole complex of obsessive-compulsive excavation—where the streets are just the thinnest of bridges spanning a sponge-like void below.

[Images: Courtesy of the Nottingham Caves Survey].

For more, check out the site of the Nottingham Caves Survey, which has link after link after link to explore; perhaps start with their Cave Map and move onward from there.

[Image: The scanner at work; courtesy of the Nottingham Caves Survey].

All in all, this might be the best advertisement for a city—intentional or not—that I’ve ever seen: drawing people to visit based on quasi-holographic laser scans of that city’s underground history.

(Via Archaeology News).

4 thoughts on “City of Holes”

  1. Thanks for your post! We have a great job, and it's good to see our work reaching new audiences.

    Dave, Nottingham Caves Survey

  2. "noclip on"

    EXACTLY what i thought of. intentionally or not, this is so reminiscent of half-life and counter-strike (and all related games) that it's astounding.

    great stuff, really cool to see.

  3. Montreal's "underground city" isn't as glamorous as it sounds, but it is labyrinthine and, as far as I know, unmapped. I would love to see a similar CAT scan for the downtown area – between the malls, the metro, massive basement complexes and the endless tunnels connecting them all, its quite hard to visualize how it all connects.

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