Underground City 3D (UC3D) is inspired by a long-term project “Underground City XXI” that has as main goal the rehabilitation of a real ex-coal mine located in Labin and Rasa (Region of Istria, Republic of Croatia) which was closed in 1998 ending the main industrial activity of the region. “Underground City XXI” aims to create a real underground city in these closed coal mines. The project has already developed many concrete steps for a future start of the realization of the underground town, as for example, the creation of Cultural Centre “Lamparna” (future entrance of the real “Underground City”) in September 1998, the technical expertise, which proved technical feasibility of the project, in 2000, the laser measuring of the coalmine, in 2001, or the general Feasibility Study proving the economic feasibility of the project, in 2002.
UCXXI project implies numerous important social, economical and cultural issues from which Underground City 3D will start an intercultural discussion. The main focus of UC3D is to develop and implement on the Internet a futuristic and utopian 3D City inspired by European industrial history using the potential of contemporary multi-user Game technologies to create and present new type of mixed-media art works and performances that interconnect virtual and real environments. These ones will encourage exploration of architectural, urban, sociological and ecological issues of living under the ground. UC3D will be open to discussions about ethics, social rules and governance, architecture and different issues of an idealistic/utopia 21st Century European society. These topics should be a core aspect of a future development of the real underground city in Labin but also more widely in our contemporary European society.
As we mentioned, UC3D has a strong correlation with UCXXI but it also reflects more widely a European situation. By extension this issue of mines closures which correspond to a main economical activity dislocation for a whole region has been an important phenomenon in Europe. It refers to the matter of economical restructuring and regional redevelopment but it also implies real cultural and social changes and the whole re-organization of local society. Moreover UC3D involves participants from all Europe to interact on the online platform in order to imagine and discuss new ways of living together and the role of citizenship, and the issues and consequences of living underground and how to imagine an idealistic form of society in some new architectural models. Moreover UC3D particularities are to stimulate artistic experimentation and innovation in the field of virtual communities and social networking by connecting interactive media artists, architects, programmers, designers, interdisciplinary researchers, students, and public to imagine, create, share alternative models for building future European multicultural communities and elaborating new citizenship principles with the public participation.
UC3D is an independent project from UCXXI future real city but is strongly linked to it because of its inspiration and of the potential impacts it could have for the development of the real underground town.
Although UC3D has a European implication, its local implementation and dissemination in Labin reinforces its strong relation with UCXXI. First of all the population from Labin will be highly concerned by the project since it is inspired by and it deals with their regional situation and UCXXI. The first public presentation of the UC3D will be held in the Transart Festival in Labin as well as later on. Moreover Labin population will be strongly invited to use the 3D platform and to participate in becoming citizens or just visitors of Underground City 3D participating in its everyday life and development, encouraging discussions and collective decision making which they can also connect to UCXXI project possibilities.
One of the expected long term goals of the project is to use the UC3D artistic and interdisciplinary process as model for the full preservation of the real Labin ex-coal mine, and to share its method internationally through paper based and digital publications, web sites, conferences or festivals for future studies developed about other European towns in the same situation after they lost the main part of their industrial or economical activities.
The complex UC3D/XXI received the support of the European Cultural Foundation (ECF) and the Culture program of the European Commission.