We noticed you're blocking ads.

Keep supporting great journalism by turning off your ad blocker.

Questions about why you are seeing this? Contact us

Font Size

- Aa +

Sat 19 Jun 2010 04:00 AM

Font Size

- Aa +

Grand ideas

After meeting foundation work milestones last year, Dubai Pearl can forge ahead in 2010, with several building innovations along the way.

Grand ideas
Hours on the towers: The four rectangular towers are just a floor or two apart in terms of construction progress.
Grand ideas
Hours on the towers: The four rectangular towers are just a floor or two apart in terms of construction progress.
Grand ideas
Hours on the towers: The four rectangular towers are just a floor or two apart in terms of construction progress.
Grand ideas
Time of the signs: There is a decent amount of space between towers.

After meeting foundation work milestones last year, Dubai Pearl can forge ahead in 2010, with several building innovations along the way.

Dubai pearl is well signposted for about half a mile around the site along Sheikh Zayed Road and the ringroads and has been for some time, something amounting to a visible anticipation for the extraordinary mixed-use project.

Reaching the site is still something of a challenge for the uninitiated, as each maroon sign on the side of the road eventually leads to a road block. But from above what is striking about the 6.096 million m2 site is the variety of development: a residential tower that has reached four floors, a square plot with freshly finished piling work, and lanes of winding roads in wide enough for vehicles to pass each other side by side.

The project is encircled by a main road that will be equal in height to five floors. The centerpiece for Dubai Pearl is the four 73-storey towers that will be joined by a single roof top, known as Sky Palace. But unlike the average tower along the Financial District, each tower is rectangular, with the long sides of the outside towers 1 and 4 at a right angle to the coast line, and the inner towers parallel.

Residents will look out onto Palm Jumeirah and, to the left and right, Dubai Marina and the Dubai downtown skyline. To the north of the towers (closest to the Palm Jumeirah) will be four hotel and residential complexes, including one that will be branded by legendary French crystal manufacturer Baccarat. The latest incarnation by Las Vegas hotel Bellagio will also feature in the end project. The south will be the majority of the entertainment-based podium buildings, which will eventually include a 1,800-seater opera house, retail outlets, a sports centre and another Las Vegas hotel, MGM Grand, and the Skylofts apartments.

The project is nestled in between Dubai's Media City and Knowledge Village, which gives the dual benefit of giving the eventual residents access to innumerable companies and entertainment venues, as well as acting as a demonstration for all those involved with the building what mega projects can achieve in the emirate.

2009 saw the completion of the piling and between August and November the raft pour for the four towers was completed, along with their necessary waterproofing. With the ground work complete the four towers are at a similar stage, though Tower 1 is ahead by two floors, closely followed by Tower 3.

Syed Irfanullah Hussainy, senior vice president of programme management at Dubai Pearl, stands beside Tower 1 and explains that after earlier completing the shoring process for the perimeter of the site, the raft pour took as long as 30-36 hours straight. "That was a huge process," he says, "with 2,500 tonnes of reinforcement."
The raft for Tower 1 was 3.5 metres in total, most of it below ground level. At the edge of the raft are the columns for the building, with a ‘core' wall a few metres in to take the majority of the weight of the building.

That the columns are on the outside will be important for the interiors of each space, particularly those designated for office use.

"With the columns on outside of the building you have a beautiful apartment or office," says Wayne Holder, executive vice president for sales, marketing and client relations at Dubai Pearl. "It in some ways makes it easier if you're putting in flooring, as you don't have to stop and start every time you have a column and you need to cut the tiles accordingly.

It would suit tenants such as drafting companies, he adds, who may require a lot of natural light. Further, a company can rearrange their entire interior layout easily without columns in the way.

To build the walls and pour the concrete into them the company uses jump form, a jacking system allows the entire assembly to be raised to the next floor level using one operator to elevate the entire system. The wall form is thus ‘jumped' from one lift to the other. The system is supported by the lower lift of concrete and forms are released and stripped after the concrete has cured. Embeds are provided in the concrete to receive the form system when it is jumped up to the next floor. This is opposed to slip form, where concrete is placed continuously in side form which moves at a set rate and forms are not removed but slip over the concrete which can support itself by the time it is out of the form.

This core wall will take 1,400 tonnes of weight, says Husseiny, and the jump form technique optimises time. "We will pour on the 14th and 16th of June," he says.

The outer casing of columns have ‘nibs' running across the top, upon which the pre-cast slabs that run between the outer wall and the core wall will rest. "In some areas we have used in situ casting, in other areas the pre cast. For the sink slab - needed for the building's drainage among other things - you will need casting in situ. The mechanical work will be particularly important. The buildings will have an optimised façade, with glass that will meet the requirement of green building standard."

At Tower 3, adjacent to Tower 1 and the closest, Husseiny explains that their work on the core wall is just a little below that of Tower 1, which is the most advanced. "We are progressing from towers 1, 3, 2 and 4, in that order, but we have electricity in all of them already." Health and safety signs and related equipment is abundant at the site, and all along the towers and along the roads in which vehicles can pass there are walkways marked with dark green netting along with concise information: ‘Accidents do not just happen, they are caused' says one. "Accident awareness is forming a greater part of HSE," says Husseiny, "and the company is very particular about things like that."

At Tower 2 the concrete is poured, and Tower 4 is at an even lower level than the rest but nevertheless has the jump form system clinging to the core wall. Husseiny explains that, as the towers are identical as individual buildings, the 600-strong workforce can be moved around to the different towers when needed. This is opposed, he adds, to the one-off towers elsewhere in Dubai, whose structures twist and lean.
In every sense, he is looking up. "The beauty of this project is going to be its joint roof, the Sky Palace, and you can visualise what it will look like as a single platform. On the top there is space enough for a football stadium! The roof will be fabricated at podium level and then will be lifted up by different companies who will be contracted to do the job." He adds that the main lifting company at the moment is VSL, "though we are not restricted to this company".

The project is aiming for Gold LEED certification, and the company had planned certain elements of recycling and sustainability early. Wayne Holder says that they have been working on an intricate strata system since 2008 to marry the diversity of the project's contents with a sensible system of monitoring energy and material usage.

"From an environmental point of view, what is really important for us is that we're not going to be building Dubai Pearl and then disappear into the sunset," he says. "The company will be attached to this project forever. We have asset in the project we'll retain from an investment point of view and management in the building for the strata system.

"In the past one could only have a strata for a building in a vertical sense, so from the ground floor to top was one stratum. What we've now managed to achieve is to have different strata components within a building. So you can have a residential space and office space that are two separate
strata communities."

He adds that this is the same for buildings which contain both residences and hotels, as the two will have very different levels of energy and material consumption. "It would be very unfair to couple the hotel and the residences, as the hotel will have higher usage of water and electricity, for example.

"So we were able to put the hotel within its own stratum. When you design a building if you don't incorporate these things early it becomes a disaster."

Holder explains that plans for the building's facilities management had been drawn up at an early stage - and with the ground work of the towers done one suspects the practical application will begin. Regarding LEED, he explains that there is a degree of a company's own initiative beyond the standard's prescriptive targets for Gold certification.

"There are certain elements in our programme - such as standards for the quality of the air in the buildings - which are not necessarily taken into account in the LEED programme. So while Dubai Pearl is Gold status there are a lot of things we will be including which are ahead of the pack for things such as air conditioners, which to us are really important - you need the right filter and extractor, and make sure the air is properly recycled. So these things we worked on to make sure that while it is Gold standard, it is Gold plus a number of other things."
Separately, Abdul Majeed Ismail Al Fahim, chairman of Dubai Pearl, tells Construction Week, that although the world's best new destinations typically go through challenging market cycles during the initial stages of their evolution, "history has shown that the best-designed, highest-quality developments are the ones that ultimately succeed."

"In general, investor interest in Dubai is on the rise and confidence is expected to return in the real estate sector," he adds. "International investors will a play an important role in Dubai's resurgence and the emirate's status as a sought-after business and leisure destination will continue to ensure the long term sustainability of Dubai and the developments within it."

Regarding the balance of supply and demand within which the building of Dubai Pearl exists, he says that although there will be an oversupply at the lower end of the market, there are very few luxury products being developed at present.

"By the time Dubai Pearl nears completion, we believe that we will have entered a market on the upturn."

The stabilisation of prices at residential areas such as Palm Jumeirah and Jumeirah Islands, he adds, is also encouraging. "Dubai has seen sustained interest in high-end developments from domestic and overseas buyers and we are aware that international buyer appetite for prime real estate opportunities is increasing.

"To date we have pre-sold more than 500 residences to high net worth individuals from over 40 different countries around the world, from Asia and the Middle East to Europe and North America. This accounts for 95% of the stock released so far at Dubai Pearl, confirming that there is strong global demand for the best international developments."

He reminds Construction Week of the strength of the group regarding the continued success and appeal of the project.

"Dubai Pearl is backed by one of the UAE's most successful family businesses, Abu Dhabi's Al Fahim Group," he said.

"The consortium of investors has a 50-year track record that includes the delivery of major real estate, hotel and hospitality projects, so Dubai Pearl has very experienced backers.

"Dubai's future as a lifestyle, leisure and business destination will continue to rest on its provision of top quality property, world class amenities and high-end brands. Dubai Pearl will set a new standard for development in Dubai and will deliver a sustainable and enduring location where people will live work and play for generations."

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Real news, real analysis and real insight have real value – especially at a time like this. Unlimited access ArabianBusiness.com can be unlocked for as little as $4.75 per month. Click here for more details.