As the home of multiple billion-dollar construction sites, Dubai is not unfamiliar with the demands of high-profile development programmes. One such project currently taking shape in the city is One Central, a mixed-use master-development by Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC), valued at $2.2bn (AED8bn).
By all means, the story of One Central’s inception is a compelling one – more so when viewed within the context of Dubai’s rapid evolution since the late 1970s, only years after the UAE’s formation.
Almost three decades later, more than 1.3ha of exhibition space – in the form of Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre (DICEC) – now sprawls DWTC’s complex in Dubai’s elite Za’abeel neighbourhood, where One Central is expected to be an addition that is both poignant and profitable.
Poignant, because One Central’s planned components would herald the next chapter of growth for Za’abeel, which propelled Dubai onto the global commercial landscape in 1979, when the 39-storey Sheikh Rashid Tower was launched in the locality. Profitable, because – as its makers explain – the billion-dollar One Central community will fulfill key real estate needs in and around its neighbourhood.
“One Central enhances the destination through the introduction of mixed-use assets, such as hotels, offices, residential, and retail developments,” Rami Alaileh, project director for real estate development at DWTC, tells Construction Week.
At a time when zoning laws have rewritten the rules of mixed-use architecture around the world, One Central’s master-plan draws on the reliable models of multi-purpose real estate to create an integrated and holistic community. The development’s commercial component comprises five buildings, each of which will feature a drop-off area, four levels of underground parking, integrated retail offerings on the ground level, open-plan office spaces, and access to rooftop gardens. The Offices 1 building offers spaces spanning 290m2 to 1,920m2 per floor, with a gross internal area of approximately 18,000m2 as commercial space, and 2,000m2 for retail use.
Meanwhile, the 12-storey Offices 2 building offers entire floors ranging from 1,290m2 to 4,640m2, which can be leased as whole floors or smaller units, with a total building size of approximately 4.1ha (41,270m2).
One Central is already reaping rewards for DWTC. Alaileh says Offices 1 has achieved full occupancy, and the 588-key Ibis Hotel, also developed as part of the project’s first phase, has performed well since its launch in early 2016: “The subsequent phases are currently under construction, with the Offices 2 building to be completed at the end of October 2017.”
Work on Phase 1 of One Central, including Offices 1 and the Ibis hotel, began in 2014, with the first phase delivered on time in the first quarter of 2016.
Anil Kumar, project director at Al-Futtaim Carillion (AFC), says the contractor, which worked on the first phase of the project, was awarded the package for Phase 2 – which includes Offices 2 and Offices 4 – in Q1 2016.
Contractual milestones for both buildings are being achieved as planned, and the team has also received the building completion certificate (BCC) for Offices 3.
“Work on Offices 2 is 95% complete, and we will complete it as scheduled,” Kumar tells Construction Week.
“Offices 4 is 98% complete, and Phase 2 of One Central is 91% complete.”
Work on Phase 3 of the project, which has also been awarded to AFC, comprises the Offices 4 and Offices 5 buildings.
“Structural work is ongoing on the package and is ahead of schedule, and finishing works are about to commence,” Kumar says.
“The façade, and mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) contractors are already on board. Meanwhile, the vertical transportation contractor is also in place. Work is expected to be completed in Q4 2018,” he adds.
Voltas and Kone, which respectively worked on Phase 1 of One Central as MEP and vertical transportation contractors, have also been roped in for Phases 2 and 3 of the project. Reem Aluminium provided façade services for One Central’s first phase, and Al Abbar Group is the façade contractor for Phases 2 and 3. All MEP and structural activities are being managed by WSP, which is the development’s consulting engineer, while Hopkins is leading architectural work for the project.
Wet trades and structural works for Phase 2 are being delivered by AFC, while the remaining specialist finishes – such as joinery and stone works – are being carried out by “top-quality subcontractors in the market”, Kumar says. Flooring and specialist marble work is being delivered by Al Fahad, while structural steel services are being provided by two companies – Middle East Steel and Reliable Steels.
The formwork system for Phase 2’s reinforced concrete works has been delivered using Peri’s systems, whilst 10 cores employed slipform systems, Kumar continues. Prefab works were carried out for structural steel and other vertical elements.
“Other packages for Phase 3 are in the preparation or tender stage, so by the end of this year, we expect all contractors for the package to be on board,” Kumar says.
Authority approvals for Phase 3 are on track, with DWTC closely monitoring all procedures, Kumar adds. Included in this list are fire compliance processes, which have been implemented in line with the UAE’s updated fire and life safety code.
Phases 1 and 2 of One Central were found to be fully compliant with the fire code in effect during their conception, and the team recently received Dubai Civil Defence’s (DCD) approvals for Phase 2, Kumar says.
He adds: “With the new code, authorities have made all material approvals mandatory, and some specifications have also been updated. However, we’re confident that our standards meet DCD’s compliance requirements.”
For Phase 3, review submissions are in process for the approval of façade materials, as per DCD’s new code requirements.
“Since only high-quality materials are used – which at times even exceed Dubai Municipality standards – compliance with the updated fire code is assured, and is not going to be a challenge in Phase 3,” Kumar adds.
Indeed, development works for One Central have, thus far, posed few challenges for AFC’s team. The bustling neighbourhood of the project site has been a key consideration for the contractor’s logistics plans, which were divided into phases to enable smooth delivery of works.
“When we started Phase 1 of the project, the site was a big, open space, but the area has changed with the development of Phase 2 and Phase 3,” Kumar explains.
“So, we planned our logistics in a sequence based on project progress, and divided it in three to four stages at the beginning of the job, to achieve other requirements that came up alongside the existing project.
“This is important to manage, considering DWTC is a premium locality, and exhibitions and functions are often underway close to the project site.”
Kumar says AFC’s experience of “nearly three years in the area” has allowed his team to manage site deliveries within the time-based vehicle restrictions imposed in the neighbourhood. This experience, he adds, also supported his team at the pre-construction stage of Phase 2: “Building construction wasn’t a challenge, but we worked on solid temporary works designs (TWD) for the roof structure.
“This was planned even before we tendered for the job, and we really studied and considered the tender. The atrium was also a key aspect that our TWD team focussed on. A strong temporary works design is the most important factor for us, and we won’t work on-site until everything has been designed and checked by the TWD team.”
Kumar has his eye on the future for AFC’s involvement with One Central, which he hopes to continue into the development’s fourth phase. The association between DWTC and AFC, he says, has been a “win-win” arrangement, and taking a long-term view of the relationship has driven the contractor’s success on the project so far, he adds: “We’ve proven our ability in Phases 1, 2, and 3, and we’re tendering for Phase 4 of the project as well.
“If the end-goal of all stakeholders is the same, then project delivery can be easy for all parties, and that’s how we’re working with DWTC.”