Gothenburg is a port city in Sweden with a strategic location between Olso and Copenhagen. It has a population of around 533.000 and is Sweden´s second largest city next to Stockholm, the capital. The city lies by the sea along the Göta Älv River and is home to Scandinavia’s largest port. Gothneburg use the Göta Älv River as the drinking water source, about two cubic meters per second is used for drinking water production. 

There’s plenty going on in Gothenburg right now. The city is growing strongly and is preparing to make space for 150.000 more residents by the year 2035. As the city grows, it is also evolving. New houses are being built, and new residential areas and city districts are emerging on land previously used for industrial purposes. New roads, bridges, cycle paths and expanded public transport will make it easier to get around in the city, both for private individuals and the business sector. The planned investments in public transport, roads and railways as part of the West Sweden Agreement are the largest in the Gothenburg region since the 1960s. The West Seden Agreement includs a new railway tunnel underneath the central parts of Gothenburg, with three stations at various places at the city´s central parts.

Gothenburg is growing, but the aim is to shorten distances. The city need to grow and develop in a sustainable way, for example by growing within the already built city and around the strategical nodes where there is good public transport, good service and where many of the city´s residents work and live. Gothenburg has a very large area, approximately 4 km2, of undeveloped land in its city center, located close to the Göta Älv River.  The city will be connected across the Göta Älv River, with a central city environments on both sides. The city will be more compact with new homes, workplaces and meeting-places.

The underground space is today used for foundations of buildings, wastewater tunnels, transport tunnels and extractions of heat. The city deals with geological challenges such as deep horizons of clay, at some places quick clays. Additionally large areas in the city centre closest to Göta River have, during centuries, been filled up with artifical fillingmaterial of various origin and thickness. The hydrological situations in Gothenburg is explained with two groundwater systems, an upper aquifer and a lower aquifer, isolated from one another because of the clay in between. The upper aquifer is located in the artificial fillingmaterial. The lower aquifer, mostly confined, is located in the glacial till deposit, underneath the clay. Gothenburg also deals with historical groundwater level lowering which has contributed to subsidence and damage to buildings and infrastructure.  

The city of Gothneburg monitors the groundwater level, a network established in the early seventies. The frequency and number of monitoring wells have varied during the years. Today there is 140 minitoring points and the measuring frequency is six times a year. The network was established in order to monitor levels in areas where groundwater are affected by drainage due to underground facilities. Today the aim of the network is also to get a general knowledge of the groundwater level in the municipuality.   


Gothenburg first started being built in 1619 on the initiative of King Gustaf II Adolf, and it received its city charter in 1621. The city was built and organized by the Dutch and Germans, and during the 18th century it developed into a prospering shipping and trading city. During the 19th centuries much of Gothenburg´s development was characterized by functional separations and urban sprawl as during the period a large share of the city center was devoted to a booming ship building industry. As a result of the collapse of the ship building industry in the 1970s Gothenburg has a very large area approximately 4km2, of undeveloped land in its city centre. Today Göta Älv River is used as source for drinking water production but before the 1960s the drinking water was primarly taken from smaller groundwater sources i.e. spings.

City facts

  • Founded: 1621
  • Size: 450 km2
  • Population: 533.000
  • Administration: The city of Gothenburg is an organization comprised of administrations and companies.

Underground use

  • Foundations of buildings
  • Road tunnels
  • Railway tunnels
  • Water supply tunnels, waste water tunnels
  • Stormwater drainage system
  • Storage
  • Pipes, cables
  • Energy wells for heating and cooling

Underground challenges

  • Subsidence
  • Deep clay horizons
  • Quick clay
  • Groundwater changes
  • No strategical plan for how underground space will be used/developed