Finally Schön Properties' infamous Dubai Lagoon project gets underway, with the first four Zones scheduled for handover by 2012.
Four years after it was launched, the notorious 529,500m2 Dubai Lagoon project is at last making good progress. Characterised by a series of delays, contract terminations and bad feeling between developers and investors, one might say the project got off to a rough start.
Today, with its three main contractors working cooperatively, but separately, across four ‘Zones', Dubai Lagoon looks more like a construction site. Materials are delivered by the tonne. Manpower on site is increasing. Towers are beginning to rise.
"Cooperation is key," says Schön Properties' project manager Walid Ahmed. "Everyone has to work together to facilitate access, loading and movement on site."
Incidentally, Belhasa Contracting and Engineering Company, Bin Sabt Building Contracting Company and Commodore Contracting have never worked together before. However, the three companies, which replaced the original contractor Powerline Group, seem to be getting along just fine.
"Initially there were some logistic issues that arose from having three contractors working on one plot," says Belhasa's senior project manager Talha Alvi. "It was difficult to maintain the access roads and access at the entrance gate. But now, through the coordination of Mr Ahmed, we are using a pass system to access the site, which is well controlled and working nicely."
According to Ahmed, the developer appointed three main contractors so as not to "put all their eggs in one basket", and to speed up the delivery of the project. Bin Sabt is working on Zone 1, while Commodore handles Zones 2 and 4 and Belhasa oversees Zone 3.
As the first part of the project to be handed over, Zone 1 is scheduled for completion before the end of the year. Its eight residential towers, the thrust of a 46,076m2 total built-up area, will provide 442 residential apartments to patient investors. A lagoon will sit in front of the towers, creating a scenic view for residents at the top. "Each tower will consist of a single basement, ground floor, another eight floors, plus the roof," says Ahmed.
Bin Sabt's managing partner Ahmed Suliman, whose team only joined the development as contractors a year ago, is optimistic about the Zone's progress. "The super structure works, i.e. the reinforced concrete and block works, are almost complete and the finishing works will soon be in full swing," he says. "The MEP works have begun and the order for the elevator has been placed with Al Arabia (Sigma, South Korea)."
Certainly construction of the Zone appears to be on schedule, with total man hours standing at 1,296,000. Executives at Bin Sabt confirmed they had cast 35,062m3 of concrete supplied by Safemix, and gone through 4,642,472 kgs of steel provided by Gulf General Steel.
But with the hand-over date just months away, it is important the developer does not wait too long to appoint new subcontractors. Still to be awarded are contracts for the aluminium and GRC works, the ceramic supply, joinery work, marbling and false ceiling work. As more subcontractors are appointed, the number of men on site is expected to increase from 200 to 1,200 at any one time.
Adding to the pressure is the fact that upon delivery, Zone 1 will have its own ETS (Electrical Thermal Storage) room, linked to a chilled water system, to provide air conditioning for the project. Located in the basement of the mosque or ‘Zone 9', it must be put in place for the Zone to be handed over on time. "We will probably start construction in about six weeks and finish in October," says Ahmed. Alongside the main contractor, Emirates District Cooling company will be the district cooling service provider for the ETS Room, with an MEP contractor yet to be assigned.
According to the developer, the lagoon, (one of several planned for the project) is also scheduled for completion "in time for the Zone's delivery". Supplied by the Chilean firm Crystal Lagoons Company, it will rely on patented ‘crystalline lagoon technology', which involves extraction of water from the ocean, to create a pool of clear water, which is then re-circulated and replaced as per predefined parameters. Extremely energy-efficient compared with conventional pool systems, the lagoons may make up for a lack of energy-efficient technology in the residences themselves.
With an estimated completion date of December 2012, Zone 2 can afford to be a bit behind. Having only just finished the concrete blinding, and with 40% of the waterproofing still to go before the contractor can add the protective concrete layer, managers at Commodore Contracting anticipate it will take two months before the raft foundation will be completed. Nevertheless, the Zone appears to be making excellent progress, the steel reinforcement already delivered to site and a large proportion of it laid down in preparation for casting. "The blinding concrete layer is done, and we have started laying down the steel, so we shall start casting the first part of the reinforced concrete some time in July," says Commodore's project director Salah Yatim. "We have 200 workers across the two Zones, which will peak at around 750. Add that to the 250 subcontractor workers, and we'll have 1000 workers across the two sites."
As it happens, there are seven subcontracts still open on Zone 2, including those for the MEP, finishing and elevator works. "We will be finalising the other packages with Schön in the near future," confirmed Yatim. "One or two subcontractors will be required for each set of works, depending on the size of the company and whether they can cope with work across two Zones." Speaking about the timescales for inviting bidders, Schön Properties' vice president Danial Schön says: "We will be inviting companies to bid for the additional subcontracts for the Zones in the next three to four months, depending on the market conditions."
Already awarded are the contracts for the steel supply, (won by BRC), waterproofing works, (awarded to BMC) and the concrete supply, (won by Ghaladari).
On completion, the 425,24m2 built-up area will accommodate 491 residents across five towers. To make this possible, the contractor has already gone through 5,129,226kgs of steel, 47,000m3 of concrete and 1,017,900 man hours.
Zone 3 is somewhere between 1 and 2. Main contractor Belhasa has awarded all of its subcontracts, bar the finishing works, and completed the block work required for the sub-structure/basement. With a view to completing in 2011, it will begin the block work for the super structure in four months. "M/S Sensaire is contracted to do the MEP works and Al Arabia will most likely supply the lifts," says Alvi. "We have 250 people on site now but that will to go up to at least 300 when we start on the super structure."
With the aim of providing 688 residential units, Zone 3 is the biggest section under construction, with a total built-up area of 676,40m2. In contrast to the other Zones, the two largest buildings will divide into two from the sixth floor upwards to provide rooftop apartments. Also unlike other Zones, the firm is getting its steel from three suppliers - Emirates Rebar, Al Gurg Building Services and G2 International. Safemix and SS Lootah are providing concrete, and Helios was responsible for the waterproofing.
Alvi, who seems happy with the progress the Zone is making and pleased that the project is finally picking up after so many delays, said: "To date we have used 4,457,155kgs of steel, cast 35,644m3 of concrete and used 1,515,969 man hours."
Identical to the buildings in Zone 2, Zone 4 is also being handled by Commodore Contracting. With the hopes of providing 497 apartments across a built up area of 425,24m2 by the end of 2012, contractors have made a good start on the excavation and backfilling work in order to even out the ground levels.
Concrete blinding is set to begin soon, increasing the amount of steel used, concrete cast and man hours, which respectively stand at 5,129,226kgs, 47,000m3, and 1,017,900. Though it has a lag period of one month behind Zone 2, contractors believe it will take less time to complete construction on Zone 4 due to its location and ease of access to the site.
Commodore branch manager Shadi Khuzam says: "Zone 4 is moving faster due to logistic reasons - it is easier for workers, machinery and materials to access the site." He adds: "At the moment we have 170 workers across both sites but we expect that to increase, especially when we start the block work and masonary work for the Zones."
To speed up construction, he refers to use of a post-tension system. Faster than the conventional system, it will allow work to speed up and money to be saved.For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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