There is always plenty to discover at the Hagerbach Test Gallery. On the 12 July 2018, Rosanne Verloop's group of Master students in Geotechnical Engineering and two of their professors were visiting from the Technical University of Delft (NL). After a short introduction about the potential of underground constructions given by K. Wachter (SCAUT) and Jasmin Amberg (STS young members), M. Kompatscher (director of the Hagerbach Gallery) guided the group through the meanders of the underground laboratory.
The big attraction of the visit was the live demonstration of a new technique to build emergency exits in tunnels. «It's fascinating to discover the reality of construction down to the smallest details», remarks one of the students. Within a SCAUT project named Plug-in Crosscut Element (PCE), a consortium under the lead of the Elkuch Group has developed an integral prefabricated push-in wall element, which can immediately be used (plug-and-play) to terminate tunnel crosscuts.
Asked about their motivation for choosing a career related to Geoengineering, the students give various answers: «I was always interested in soil dynamics and before building something, you need to understand the subsurface» or «I like the surprises you get by building below the earth – you never completely know in advance what you will find down there.» Some visionary planers are already talking about underground vegetable and fish farms. What do the young engineers think about it? «I'm not sure, you need energy for the lighting and so forth. I definitely see more potential for underground computer server installations, because you can heat the buildings above with their residual heat.» But who knows what the future might hold?