Expanding Engagement

17 January 2018

Montreal, home to miles of underground city amenities offering residents access to shopping, dinning, transit and entertainment, while connecting them to above ground buildings and facilities—a network especially appreciated during the harsh winter months—played a perfect host for Han Admiraal and Antonia Cornaro of the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association’s Committee on Underground Space (ITACUS).

The two presented at the recent TAC workshop on the role underground space can play in the planning and creation of the cities of the future. The presentation included an overview of the ITACUS vision and gave insight into the forthcoming book they have written.

ITACUS works with a number of global partners including the International Society of City and Regional Planners (ISOCARP), with which it has developed a Think Deep publication containing urban case studies, and a new Young Professional’s Think Deep Program, where professionals from the built environment work on city cases.

There are other similar efforts to facilitate interdisciplinary discussion. During the recent French Tunnelling and Underground Space Association (AFTES) conference the program dedicated a day to architecture and urban planning for underground.

One session presented examples of work carried out worldwide that invests in underground spaces in a systemic, multi-levelled approach. In the afternoon session “Urban strategies, a comparison between Greater Paris and Singapore,” looked at what tomorrow’s cities will be, considering Singapore’s urban sprawl, a highly-populated city with development constraints because of its location, and the planning for Greater Paris, with its historical centres, which has filled its underground for centuries. AFTES has previously explored a similar topic, specifically in 2014, with a design contest aimed at inspiring new ideas of sustainable, urban underground space development, bringing in architecture schools to submit projects and present them at its conference.

The tunnelling industry should do more outreach to these related professions. Inform others of not only the current tunnelling capabilities, but what can be achieved with more support, financial or otherwise; counter the myths of what tunnelling isn’t; and collaborate, even in the simplest ways, as often as possible. When other industries integrate more use of the underground space more value is added to it.

And on a final note, T&T would like to thank the advertisers, contributors and, most of all, our readers for their support and patronage in 2017.