Better tunnel vision

TUNNELLING experts gathered for the WTC 2019 in Naples for a conference and exhibition with international colleagues who specialise in the design and construction of underground works that involve engineering and innovation.

AIM Group International was appointed by the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (ITA-AITES) and the Italian Tunnelling Association (SIG) – the organisers of this year’s World Tunnel Congress – to be PCO for the event, which has been held in Italy for the third time.

Winning pitch

The challenge to AIM from the client organisers was that the event at Mostra D’Oltremare should establish a strong connection with the destination and build around it a personalised, innovative, scientific congress programme.

As PCO, AIM had to ensure the programme contained engaging, scientific sessions, coupled with exclusive experiences in unique locations.

A unique cultural mix had to be a standout feature of the event. To achieve this, engineering-related topics were combined with elements of Italian culture, particularly archaeology, architecture and art – forms of which are evident across Naples.

AIM blended the world of engineering and geotechnics with other disciplines and gave the congress the title of “Tunnels and Underground Cities: Engineering and Innovation meet Archaeology, Architecture and Art”.

Highlights

Offsite visits and events were organised to make the most of the conference’s theme of blending the history of geotechnical engineering with local culture.

Working lunches were organised at one of the archaeological  wonders of Naples, the Pausilypon site and Seiano Caves. Delegates travelled to the gala dinner at Pietrarsa Railway Museum by a train with vintage carriages, and were seated for dinner with a collection of the museum’s steam engines lining the sides of the banquet venue.

A special orchestral concert was organised at the ornate San Carlo Theatre, an opera house which dates back to 1737, while the Young Members Networking Event saw partying on El Pirata, a galleon moored at Mergellina harbour.

Underground itineraries included visits to the city’s Greek-Roman tunnelling system, the recently restored Galleria Borbonica (the Bourbon Tunnel) and the award-winning Metro station in Naples.

Visits to Rome’s Metro construction site, the Naples-Bari high-speed railway and the Brenner Base Tunnel, the longest underground railway tunnel in the world, were also organised.

WTC also teamed up with local community partners such as local not-for-profit ArcheĢ Foundation, which is building a community house to host mothers in need with their children. WTC also participated in a Food for Good Programme and donated excess food to local charities.

Upshot

As well as delegates descending 50 metres below the city of Naples, taking lunch at a seaside archaeological site, and discovering seminars on art and architecture, the WTC Congress grew in numbers from previous years.

The number of attendees increased by 80 per cent, and organisers said more were attracted by the rich scientific programme and the appeal of a historic destination. The number of countries represented also increased to more than 70, while exhibitor numbers more than doubled.

CHECKLIST

EVENT: World Tunnel Congress 2019 ORGANISERS: ITA-AITES and SIG
PCO: AIM Group International
VENUE: Mostra D’Oltremare, Naples
ATTENDEES: 2,700 participants from 73 countries
BIG MOMENTS: Travelling by vintage train to museum gala dinner; concert at historic opera house; underground visits to ancient tunnelling systems.
DATE: May 3-9, 2019

EVENT BY NUMBERS

2,500 sqm expo area
230 exhibitors and sponsors 180 podium presentations and 405 e-posters presentations
280,000 social media posts – 2,160 followers




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