International professionals to gather in Paris 05 Oct 2017

TunnelTalk reporting

Under its widely encompassing theme, The Value is Underground, the 15th International Congress of AFTES, the French Tunnelling and Underground Space Association, will examine all aspects of underground development while highlighting the latent value of underground space as a means of enhancing the urban environment and establishing a symbiosis between ground-level and underground space. Across a four-day event, the conference programme will focus on the abundance of international know-how and the necessity of interweaving disciplines that are crucial to providing underground infrastructure with a sustainable future.

Symbiosis between ground-level and the underground
Symbiosis between ground-level and the underground

The first three days at the Palais des Congrès at Porte Maillot, will examine the optimization of underground urban projects and the innovations in design, construction, equipment and materials employed to maximize the construction quality and operation of the built infrastructure. It will be accompanied by an expansive exhibition area of more than 100 exhibitor stands representing all the major players in the field including project owners, contractors, and the international suppliers of equipment, materials and technology.

Visit our exhibition preview Exhibition preview to plan your schedule to visit the TunnelTalk company partners and the many exhibitors representing the international tunnelling industry. Representatives of the TunnelTalk editorial and advertisement teams will also be attending the Congress. Collect copies of our TunnelTalk Annual Review industry year book printed magazine and meet Shani Wallis, Editor ,and Binda Punj, Head of International Advertisement Sales in the media area, in the exhibition hall and at the lectures to plan your editorial contributions and advertising promotion campaigns.

The fourth day, at the Cité de L’Architecture et du Patrimoine at the Place de Trocadéro et du 11 Novembre, will be dedicated to the architecture of subsurface structures and underground urban development.

Conference programme

The three-day conference is programmed in two parallel sessions and based on four main topics.

Topic A: Developing underground space, value to be conquered and harnessed

This topic is aimed at decision-makers and designers, who are invited to explain their vision and solutions in the face of the constraints and reticence they have to overcome: integrating underground structures into a complex environment, the quality of constructions, pleasantness of underground spaces created and project cost effectiveness. The following sub-topics may be covered with reference to feasibility studies and project development:

  • Integrating transport infrastructure into urban settings
  • Creating and offering high-quality, safe and sustainable underground spaces providing innovative solutions to site constraints
  • Demonstrating the socioeconomic benefits of underground construction

Topic B: Optimising project bringing out tomorrow’s value

This topic targets players in the design field who have the job of proposing suitable solutions to the challenges of underground construction. Project optimisation entails the study of sites (geological surveys), design (optimisation of spaces and structures: excavation methods, supports and linings) as well as contractual and project management aspects. The specific question of overall cost is highlighted, as the vision of project owners should go further than the initial construction phase with a long-term vision needed also to meet sustainable development requirements. Sub-topics will include:

  • Planning projects while integrating surveys and environment-related constraints
  • Optimising the design of spaces and structures
  • Maximising opportunities and managing risks
  • Controlling costs with a long-term overall cost perspective

Topic C: Capitalising the wealth of feedback and innovation

Metros, the transport arteries of modern cities
Metros, the transport arteries of modern cities

Contractors, urban planners, architects, project managers and project owners are invited to share their experiences, as regards their successes and also difficulties encountered in constructing underground structures. Special emphasis will be placed on innovative solutions. Sub-topics will include:

  • Specific challenges related to underground engineering works on urban sites
  • Innovative solutions for underground engineering works
  • Feedback on underground cities worldwide
  • Architects, urban planners and engineers tackling innovation in the field of underground spaces

Topic D: Harnessing and preserving the value of underground heritage

Underground structures constitute an invaluable heritage. They must be equipped with complex systems to ensure their safe and efficient operation. Players contributing to their maintenance and operation are invited to discuss strategies for their operation, servicing, renovation, monitoring and maintenance, as well as innovative solutions that can be implemented to monitor, improve and preserve this heritage. Points covered will include:

  • Equipping and operating underground cities
  • Monitoring and maintaining underground structures
  • Renovating structures and diversifying and developing their uses

Proceedings begin with an opening ceremony and the official opening of the exhibition on Monday morning (13 Nov), after which delegates will follow sessions in the Paris Room or in the Passy Room. Each stream will include round table discussions on sessions for in-depth focus on mega-projects including the massive Grand Paris Express metro expansion project for the French capital, the Lyon-Turin high speed rail project between France and Italy, as well as urban developments in Singapore as a guest partner of the event, and a spotlight on major projects in Hong Kong as a location of particular experience for French companies in the underground construction industry.

Download Congress programme
Download Congress programme

The event has a strong link in the programme with the Committees of the ITA, International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association.

ITA COSUF, the Committee on Operational Safety of Underground Facilities, has spearheaded two sessions on the research and development of prefabricated tunnel coatings and controlling the impact of tunnel construction and their operation in urban areas and will host a round table debate at the Agora open forum in the exhibition area on the design, use and upgrading of underground complexes.

Another special session at the Agora will be hosted by the ITA Committee on Underground Space, ITACUS, to explore the international vision for the development of underground spaces.

The event will also host the 2017 series of the ITA Brunel Awards with the shortlisted finalists of nine categories presenting their award entry projects at a day long conference of presentations and the winners announced and presented with the Brunel trophy during the gala dinner at the famous, historical and recently completely renovated to former glory, Wagram Room near the Palais des Congrès.

Shortlisted finalists in each of the categories are:

2017 ITA Awards part of the proceedings
2017 ITA Awards part of the proceedings

Major Project of the Year of more than €500 million

  • Ottawa LRT, Confederation Line (Canada)
  • Delhi Metro Phase 3 expansion networks (India)
  • Tehran Metro Line 6 (Iran)
  • Doha Metro and rail lines (Qatar)

Project of the Year of between €50 million and €500 million

  • Stockholm Citybanan Norrströmstunnel (Sweden)
  • Blue Plains CSO sewer and drainage tunnel (USA)
  • Hong Kong MTR Shatin to Central Link - Hin Keng to Diamond Hill Tunnel
  • (China) Tùnel Emisor Poniente wastewater conveyance (Mexico)

Project of the Year of up to €50 million

  • Fjaerland hydropower plants (Norway)
  • Kennedy Tunnel (Chile)
  • Southwark to City of London deep cable tunnel (UK)

ITA Award finalist: Ottawa Confederation Line
ITA Award finalist: Ottawa Confederation Line

Technical Innovation Project of the Year

  • Implementing BIM concepts for the Karavanke Tunnel (Slovenia)
  • Rectangular TBM boxjack pedestrian underpasses at Havelock MRT Station (Singapore)
  • Enlargement of a TBM tunnel to create an underground expressway junction beneath a residential area - a first in global tunnelling (Japan)

Technical Innovation Product or Equipment of the Year

  • Strength monitoring using thermal imaging (UK)
  • Automatic drilling jumbo (Finland)
  • RowaTrain self-driving trackless supply logistic system (Austria)

Sustainability Initiative of the Year

  • ITO Metro Station (India)
  • Anacostia River CSO and drainage tunnel (USA)

ITA Award finalist: Doha Metro system
ITA Award finalist: Doha Metro system

Safety Initiative of the Year

  • Telemach cutterhead-disc robotic changing system (Hong Kong, China)
  • BSCU SCL radial joint design (UK)
  • MineARC GuardIAN remote monitoring and diagnostics for refuge chambers (Australia)

Innovative Underground Space Concept of the Year

  • Bostanci transit intermodal hub (Turkey)
  • Cavern masterplan to unlock hidden resources for sustainable city development (Hong Kong, China)
  • Underground cemetery in tunnels (Israel)

Young Tunneller of the Year

  • Michele Janutolo Barlet (France)
  • Juan David Herrera (Colombia)
  • Roberto Schuerch (Switzerland)
  • Tobias Andersson (Norway)
  • Anthony Bauer (USA)

The fourth day of the event, at the Cité de L’Architecture et du Patrimoine on Thursday 16 Nov, delegates will explore the architecture and urban planning for underground spaces.

Above and below ground combined
Above and below ground combined

The morning session will present real examples of investments in underground spaces carried out in France and throughout the world and stakeholders in the National Project 10D-City of Ideas in France will present their research and experiments designed to invent or revamp regulatory frameworks and practices, and to respond with the underground, to challenges in urban planning.

The afternoon session will reflect on what tomorrow’s cities will be, using Singapore and Greater Paris as examples of sprawling, highly populated urban areas as examples of how the underground dimension is vital to future development. A round-table discussion to explore points in more detail.

The day will close with a lecture by famous architect Dominique Perrault, who will bring in an artistic point of view to the development of underground spaces and their environmental integration.

With a selection of site tours also being arranged as part of the event, the AFTES Congress of 2017 is set to be a valuable gathering of professionals from the world over and a memorable examination of how underground space will shape the future of our cities and communities.


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