Neptunus takes centre stage at NATO 70th Anniversary Summit
Allied Heads of State and Government from 29 nations gathered in the United Kingdom to commemorate the 70th anniversary of NATO. The UK was one of the founder members when the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was formed in 1949 with the aim of guaranteeing freedom and security for members through political and military means.
70 years ago NATO’s first headquarters was based in London. To mark the historic occasion Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II hosted a reception at Buckingham Palace attended by guests including US President Donald Trump, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.
NATO’s leaders then attended a summit over the following day staged in the grounds of The Grove Hotel in Watford, Hertfordshire.
Neptunus has been the preferred temporary structure supplier to three previous key NATO summits in Poland and Brussels. For 2019 Neptunus was appointed for the first time by live events specialists Identity Group. Identity were charged with organising the summit on behalf of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office and assigned Neptunus to provide the complex temporary infrastructure for the prestigious anniversary.
A critical part of the tender process for the successful temporary structure provider was to supply a high-quality and secure environment for the summit within temporary buildings with impeccable acoustics and sound-proofing. This was absolutely vital to ensure the confidentiality of the secret discussions and negotiations taking place inside, with the world’s media looking on.
The temporary infrastructure needed to accommodate around 500 people including Heads of State and Government, diplomats, media organisations, security teams and support staff in a meticulously planned operation.
Calling on their vast experience from previous high-profile NATO events, the 16-strong Neptunus technical team took just 30 days to construct a vast network of impressive temporary facilities spanning over 7,000 square metres – large enough to cover the football pitch at Wembley Stadium.
The intricate layout included a main conference centre and a press conference building, utilising Neptunus’ state-of-the-art Evolution technology. These were situated either side of an Alure Globe temporary structure that formed a meeting area for delegates. The complex had an atrium-style entrance accessed from a covered walkway which also led to a dedicated exhibition hall and a facility with private delegate meeting rooms, with everything built within the hotel’s walled garden. Both conference rooms were constructed with solid floors and roofing, and were completely sound-proof in accordance with the organiser’s rigorous stipulations.
Elsewhere across the site Neptunus built a holding area for media alongside a crew catering facility. Technicians also constructed a 3,800 square metre media centre with a dedicated area, split into sections, for television presenters to broadcast summit news around the world with The Grove Hotel as a backdrop to their film reports.
Neptunus built over 100 metres of carpeted bespoke covered walkway, lined with images commemorating NATO’s 70 year history, which threaded around the hotel car park and into the Walled Garden complex. Neptunus was responsible for Carpentry, Sound Proofing, Acoustic Internal Ceilings and the steel under-structure for any of the temporary buildings that required elevation.
The summit presented Neptunus with one of the company’s greatest logistical challenges.
Sound proofing the two key areas where the world leaders would be holding discussions and briefings was of paramount importance to the organisers.
The main part of the temporary complex had to be built inside the walled garden which only had a narrow access point. A crane was used to lift equipment into place with virtually every square metre of space within the garden covered with temporary structures, leaving just enough room for Neptunus’ technical team to operate in.
With the look and feel of permanent buildings, Neptunus’ robust Evolution structures used to accommodate the key conference facilities were so sound-proof that mobile phones could not be used inside as there was no signal.
Although The Grove was taken over by NATO for all three days of the anniversary summit, the hotel remained fully operational during the build up to the summit and through the dismantling phase.
Neptunus’ technicians carried out their complicated build programme without interrupting the day-to-day running of the hotel. This also included a period when England’s football team were staying and training at The Grove for two key European Championship Qualifying matches several weeks before the NATO summit.
Paul Fitzpatrick, Operations Director of Identify Group, said: “I wanted to say a big thank you to everyone that has worked with us over the last four weeks. The positive attitude, hard work and outstanding attention to detail from your team helped to make the event a huge success. We have received incredibly complimentary feedback from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and NATO over the last 24 hours. Everyone working on the project should be extremely proud of what we have achieved collectively in challenging timescales and conditions. Please pass on the thanks of Identity to your team.”