In a snowy, dark wasteland, a slanted entrance to an underground cellar juts out. The glass door in the entrance is illuminated by the sun.

The entrance to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault on Spitsbergen. Diverse seeds from all over the world are stored in the underground chambers to ensure future food production even under changing climate conditions.



Although humans are born above ground, they are always drawn to the depths. One of the first paintings was discovered in caves. Author Will Hunt writes about this deep connection to the ground under our feet. 

In gold and coal mines, people venture thousands of metres underground to extract valuable mineral resources. The miner Luthando Mampintsha from South Africa reports on his day job in the deepest mine in the world.

In the big cities, rents are rising and many people can no longer afford housing. Some choose to live in underground basements, for example in the metropolis of Beijing in China. Photographer Sim Chi Yin portrayed some of them for this dossier. 

January 2022

“It’s hard to work somewhere where every single day you’re not sure if you are going to make it back”
Luthando Mampintsha
Miner, South Africa