Site visit: The Opus, Dubai

Site visit: The Opus, Dubai
Those charged with building The Opus are using 3D models to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
Published: 30 May 2015 - 6 a.m.
By: Michael Fahy

Omniyat and Brookfield Multiplex speak to Michael Fahy about work still to be done at Dubai’s torus-shaped The Opus, with only months to go before the building’s upper bridge is installed

Constructing something as complex and visually stunning as Zaha Hadid’s The Opus in Dubai was never going to be easy, but the building is now taking its distinctive shape.

The mixed-use building, which was created by London-based Zaha Hadid Architects, is proving to be as complicated to construct as it looks. Hadid’s firm created the design for the 21-floor, 2m ft2 structure back in 2007, and Brookfield Multiplex was appointed as design-build contractor to complete the building in 2008.

According to Hadid’s website, the building is made up of two structures “conceived as a single cube eroded by a free-form void which appears to ‘hover’ above ground”.

To put it in layman’s terms, think more of an ice cube that has almost melted into two separate parts at the bottom, but remains connected at the top. It is 100m wide by 97m in height and is 67m deep, with the void linking the two towers between the 16th and 18th floors above ground level.

Creating something like this in the most buoyant of markets would have had its challenges, but then when the recession hit, developer Omniyat held off on work and, like many of the surrounding sites in Dubai’s Business Bay area, the project missed its initial completion date of the first quarter of 2012.

However, the area has undergone a significant revival over the past 12 months, with many nearby hotels and office buildings (including Omniyat’s twin-towered The Binary project) now reaching handover stage.

And The Opus – a $700m (AED2.5bn), mixed-use building is approaching its most crucial stage – where the two, asymmetrical towers have to be joined together via a three-floor bridge which appears above the ‘void’ on the 16th-18th storeys.

The Opus is a mixed-use building containing six basement levels of parking, a nightclub on basement levels one and two, and a hotel and retail space covering five of the atrium levels. The two sides of the cube are filled with office spaces on floors two to 15, and the top three floors will house serviced apartments.

Buyers can choose whether or not they want their apartments serviced by the hotel’s operator, Spanish chain Melia, which is opening its first ME Hotel brand in the Middle East at the Opus.

“Selecting the operator for the hotel was not an easy task,” explains Omniyat director Mark Phoenix. “We were conscious about selecting a brand to suit such a unique and iconic building. ME Hotel, a luxury brand owned by Melia hotels is a perfect match for the Opus because of its unique and modern hotel experiences.”

The hotel and the serviced apartments are not expected to be complete until the first quarter of 2017, but Brookfield Multiplex, which is working under a design-build contract, is set to deliver the building for handover by the first quarter of 2016.

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