Tunnels with an Impact

It’s rare to return to the same country for a world congress, but in Italy, three times can be a charm—especially when you’re combining the archeologically rich city of Naples with a community of worldwide experts on design and construction of underground works, such as the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA-AITES) and the Italian Tunnelling Association (SIG).

For the World Tunnel Congress 2019 (WTC 2019), which took place in May, Naples proved to be the perfect “cultural mixture” of archaeology, architecture and art—themes that were highlighted in both the programme and congress title: Tunnels and Underground Cities: Engineering and Innovation meet Archaeology, Architecture and Art.

Over 2,700 attendees from more than 70 countries gathered to hear more than 180 oral presentations at the Mostra D’Oltremare Congress Center, where exhibitor numbers were up by more than 50 percent.Not only was attendance at a record high—up by 80 percent—engagement on social media was strong, with 280,000 post views.According to Rosangela Quieti, managing director, Congress Division at AIM Group International, “The rich and personalised programme, along with the appeal of the destination, are the main reasons for the boost in attendance.”

Exploring tunnels 40 metres below the historic centre of Naples and sitting at a seaside archaeological site for lunch were just the start to the WTC 2019. In addition to Tripe A sessions on Archaeology, Architecture and Art, delegates had the opportunity to head off-site and see local tunnel projects like the Greek-Roman tunnelling system, the recently restored Renaissance aqueduct system in the Galleria Borbonica, and the city’s award-winning Metro station. Attendees were also able to visit a few other significant Italian projects like Rome’s Metro construction site, the high-speed railway Naples-Bari, and the Brenner Base Tunnel, the world’s longest underground railway tunnel.

The destination played a centrepiece role in the congress, and each locale was chosen to highlight a specific aspect of the city’s culture in a way that relates to the congress’s overall theme. Lunches were held at the archaeological Pausilypon site of Seiano Caves, and attendees hopped on a historical train ride to reach the Gala Dinner, which was hosted at the Pietrarsa Railway Museum. Millennials were also given a great networking opportunity at a cocktail party dedicated to under-35 members, held on board a historic galleon at the Mergellina harbour.

Another notable new addition to the event was WTC’s participation in a Food for Good programme, whichrecovered and donated excess food to local charity organisations like family homes, soup kitchens and refugee centres. WTC2019 also chose to support the not-for-profit Arché Foundation as a charity partner, which will have a long-term impact on the local community. The main project will include building a community house with 14 flats designed for mothers in need and their children.“In line with the choice to establish a strong link with the destination, for this edition, for the first time, it was decided to leave a legacy on the destination and support local causes,” Quieti says. Like tunnels help to overcome difficult roads, Arché’s projects help people to overcome difficult times and find an easier path for their lives.”

This article was written by Boardroom Editor Lane Nieset The right to use, part or all of it in subsequent works has to be granted by the Publisher.

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