The Role of Underground Space in Future Sustainable Cities

Open Session 2018

Construction of tunnels and underground structures is growing worldwide. The global yearly market is over 100 bn US$.

Unfortunately, the construction of tunnels and underground structures are seen as very expensive projects, always over cost and difficult to manage by owners.

But with a planned growth of urban population worldwide expected to reach 80%, it is necessary to double the urban infrastructures within the next 3 decades and notably many of them being built underground.

To do so, it is important to have at disposal contractual practices that are on line with the specificities of building underground.

The Open Session at the WTC 2018 in Dubai will address these issues of Contractual Practices for the 21st Century. Towards the end of the year, the FIDIC Emerald Book (Conditions of Contract for Tunnelling and Underground Works), resulting of a joint effort of ITA and FIDIC, will be released.

During the Open Session, Tuesday April 24th, representatives of owners, financing institutions, engineering companies and contractors will share with the audience the good examples of contractual practices as the challenges still ahead.

The Chair of the joint FIDIC / ITA task force on the Emerald Book will present the main aspects of the new Contract Form in view of the publication this winter.

Planned participants to the Round Tables:

  • BBT/ Brenner
  • Saudi Government
  • ITIG
  • World Bank
  • SMEC
  • PORR
  • VINCI (tbc)

Not To Be Missed: Underground Spaces Unveiled – Book Presentation

Antonia Cornaro and Han Admiraal will be unveiling their new groundbreaking book on underground space development at the 2018 ITA-AITES Open Session at WTC 2018 in Dubai.

Tuesday 24 April 2018 – 9:40 – 10:00 am

In a ground breaking new book Antonia Cornaro and Han Admiraal challenge the common perception that the development of underground spaces is only for cities that have a scarcity of land. They argue that both the sustainable development goals and the new urban agenda require cities to look at the planning and use of underground space. In a book written for urban planners, urban designers, architects, geologists, engineers, and for policy makers and decision makers, they unveil a hidden urban asset as able to provide solutions for many of the challenges urban areas face now and in the future. The publication of the book is timely as cities are evermore being challenged by rapid urbanisation, climate change and the need for urban resilience.

In line with the overall congress theme of ‘The role of underground space in future sustainable cities’ this presentation cannot be missed by those attending WTC 2018. Please join the ITA-AITES Open Session where the authors will unveil their book to a worldwide audience of underground space professionals.

Read more ‘Underground Spaces Unveiled: Planning and Creating the Cities of the Future’ is to all intent and purposes a book on underground urbanism. It traces the history of human intervention below the surface from the earliest flint mines to the strategies of urban space lacking cities such as Singapore and Hong Kong. The book looks at how policies on sustainable development and urban resilience need to include the urban underground space. At the same time is recognises that this requires urban planners, geologists and engineers to work together to unlock the knowledge to take the right decisions. Unplanned exploitation of underground space has in many cases led to a subsurface chaos with little room for future expansion. The ‘first come – first served’ principle that has applied for so long, is now adversely affecting the needs cities have for optimising their spatial development. Many cities however have never looked below the surface for future expansion and this is where the ideas and concepts discussed in the book show real potential. As Dr Joan Clos, the former executive director of UN-Habitat writes in the foreword: “The use of underground space can help cities remain compact, be energy efficient or find the space needed to include new functions in the existing city landscape.” French architect Dominique Perrault, who also wrote a foreword in the book, emphasises the importance of underground space use: “We share the belief that underground building is not just a conceptual temporary architectural trend but holds a long-term potential, especially for dense urban environments.”

For more information on the book please visit

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