Soaring skywards

The Burj Dubai currently stands 35 storeys tall.

An army of more than 31,000 workers assisted by a vast array of some of the world’s most efficient equipment – including a total of 102 cranes – is currently at work on a 500-acre desert site close to the heart of Dubai to create a Dh73 billion ($20 billion) mixed-use development that will boast the tallest man-made structure in the world.

The Burj Dubai development – the centerpiece of which is the Burj Dubai tower – is rising up fast from the flat sands of Dubai in line with a well-coordinated and meticulously planned construction schedule.
Termed as the most prestigious square kilometre on earth and probably one of the largest construction sites in the world, the Burj Dubai development – Emaar’s most ambitious project to date – is currently a hive of activity with construction under way on most of the various components of the mega development.
“The Burj Dubai tower currently stands at 35 storeys, rising by a floor every four to five days – which is even faster than our initial target of a-floor-a-week,” says Abdulla M bin Lahej, director of construction Emaar Properties.
In addition, work is under way on the various components of this mega development which, when completed in 2008, will feature a mixed-use community combining commercial, residential, hotel, entertainment, shopping and leisure outlets in open green spaces dotted with lakes and several other water features.
Already, amazing statistics are being drawn up in the creation of this unique development: In terms of concrete and steel alone, more than 893,792 cu m concrete has been poured and 152,944 tonnes of steel rebar have so far been used on the project which first landed on the designer’s desk in 2003.
The tower will be surrounded by The Old Town, The Dubai Mall, Burj Dubai Business Hub, Burj Views, Burj Dubai Boulevard, The Residences, restaurants, hotels, residential facilities and much more – all located on the banks of a spectacular man-made lake.
Apart from the signature architecture of the Burj Dubai and The Dubai Mall, what makes this new downtown special is its proximity to Sheikh Zayed Road and Dubai’s main commercial centres. The development will be self-sustaining with a 24/7 lifestyle.
The 22 million sq ft Burj Dubai development will boast 30,000 homes, nine world-class hotels (a total of 2,000 keys, including the 160-room Armani Hotel in the Burj Dubai), 19 residential towers, over 3.7 million sq ft of retail space (net lettable) within the Dubai Mall, 73-m-wide and 3.5 km-long Boulevard, 200 m tall dancing fountains, 16,000 car-park facility for the Dubai Mall, 12 hectare of Burj Dubai Lake and 6 acres of parkland.
The tower has been designed by the Chicaco-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM). Turner Construction International is the project and construction manager.

Burj Dubai
Due for completion in the mid-2008, the iconic spiral tower will offer premium residential and retail space and will feature a boutique hotel (Armani Hotel), exclusive corporate suites offices, serviced residential suites, apartments, four luxurious pools, several restaurants, exclusive resident’s lounge and 15,000 sq ft of fitness facilities, recreational and entertainment facilities, and an observatory, which is planned for the 124th level, offering spectacular views of the city.
The Armani Hotel Dubai includes 160 guest rooms and suites, restaurants and a spa covering more than 40,000 sq ms. Above the hotel are 144 luxury residential apartments all designed by Giorgio Armani and fully furnished with a specially designed line of products from the Armani Casa home furnishings collection.
The contractors – a consortium of South Korea’s Samsung Corporation, Belgium’s Besix and the local Arabtec Construction – are using the latest techniques available to fast-track the construction of the Burj Dubai including self-climbing formwork for walls, prefabricated rebar cages and slabs done using special formwork systems to speed up the construction process. Emaar has carefully studied, planned and scheduled each and every step of the construction process and has opted to use prefabrication as far as possible. The tower has a base floor plate of 33,000 sq ft, which tapers as the structure rises skywards.
Specially developed concrete pumps that can generate 350 bars pressure and can pump to 600 m of height are employed on the project. Some 94,958 cu m of high-quality concrete and 11,741 tonnes of steel rebar have so far been used in the construction of the tower.
Some 11 cranes and the world’s fastest high-capacity construction hoists – with a speed of up to 2 m/sec (120 m/min) – are being used to move men and material to the lofty heights.
In addition, some 2,000 workers are currently on site along with a wide range of construction equipment. Coordinating such a huge operation is no small task by any standards.
The statistics that will be drawn up by the curtain-walling are equally impressive: some 83,600 sq m (20.7 acres) of glass and 27,900 sq m of metal will go into cladding the massive structure. The surface area which will be covered with glass and metal will be equal to 17 football fields,” Lahej mentions.
For a tower that aims to touch heights that have never been scaled before, the quality of material that goes into the construction is of paramount importance.
“Many trials were done to get the appropriate concrete mix prior to actual use and we have gone to lengths to ensure top quality control at the concrete batching plant besides undertaking extensive and constant sampling and tests at the construction site,” he adds.
The challenges involved in the construction of this flagship project have been many, especially given the fact that several other components are being built simultaneously. As it is a fast-paced programme, design work is being completed as construction proceeds, he says.
The project also entails coordinating with consultants working around the world round-the-clock.
The logistics of moving men and materials was tackled by first extensively studying and analysing the scale and then laying out detailed schedules and securing specialised large-capacity, high-speed hoists. The cranes procured for the project were specially modified to provide fast winch speeds and to carry long lengths of cable.
“We also had a special GPS monitoring system developed to an accuracy of within a millimetre.
Another challenge has been the spire construction, which has involved careful studies and detailed designs as it had to buildable at heights in excess of 600 m,” he explains.

The Dubai Mall
Construction is well under way on The Dubai Mall with work in progress on various levels of the mall. Some 8,000 piles have been driven to ensure a firm foundation for what will be world’s largest retail development featuring 5 million sq ft of gross area.
The main contractor comprising a joint venture of Dutco Balfour Beatty-Al Ghandi and Consolidated Contractors Company – appointed in October 2004 – is currently executing the structural concrete works and blockwork which will be followed by mechanical, electrical and plumbing works.
The Dubai Mall with four shopping levels is designed to be the world’s largest retail development with over 3.7 million sq ft of net lettable space. It will boast many attractions, including the world’s largest Gold Suq with courtyards, a vast range of gold and diamond jewelry shops, several themed food courts, restaurants, and a number of anchor stores.
A dedicated high fashion precinct – where designer boutiques launch and showcase the latest styles and trends – is set within Fashion Island, an exclusive two-level circular structure with sleek trendy finishes and private entrances.
At the centre of the mall will be one of the star features – the world’s biggest aquarium with a walkthrough tunnel – where visitors will be surrounded by over 40,000 fish and other marine life, including many species of sharks.
On the south side, shoppers can dine Al Fresco-style along the Waterfront Promenade, with breathtaking views of the Burj Lake and the Burj Dubai tower. Throughout the mall, special water features will flank all entrances or create areas of pleasant, soothing tranquility for diners or shoppers.
An Olympic-sized ice rink and an entertainment segment excitingly integrate sports and leisure segments into this retail environment.
Commenting on the progress of work on the development an Emaar spokesperson says: “Already The Park Avenue car park, located along Doha Street has reached its full height and work is in progress for the structures of the water features along Doha Street. The most advanced building section of the mall itself is in the Grand Drive area. The building, containing the entrance of the Gold Suq, has now reached the roof level and the building with the Grand Entrance has reached second floor level.
“The construction of the Gold Suq and food court area have also reached roof level, while the Carnival Car Park along the eastern border – which also will be housing the entertainment area – has reached its fourth level. The foundation work for the Galleria car park along the western border is progressing at a fast pace.”
The complex will provide a total of more than 14,000 parking spaces.
The developers are now concentrating on the Aquarium building, which has already reached the first floor slab – corresponding to the water level of the aquarium. The works for the southern section of the mall is also in progress at the ground floor level of Fashion Island and Waterfront Atrium.

The Old Town Island
Work is well under way on The Old Town, a vibrant waterside community with meandering alleyways and inner courtyards. It features individual low-rise luxury apartments that perfectly blend the traditional Arabic and modern luxury design.
“It is an exclusive town within a city, offering extreme levels of luxury fused with an elaborate selection of boutiques, parlours and coffee houses to enjoy by day and live music and outdoor restaurants in the lantern-lit streets by night,” says the spokesman.

The Old Town
Many of the mid-rise towers of The Old Town are now clearly definable on the horizon within this quaint district which features low-rise three-storey apartment buildings as well as exclusive mid-rise towers with penthouses. The town features a predominantly Arabic architecture, including elements such as terraces, balconies, recesses and niches, which provide comfortable outdoor living and views through elegant window and doors.

Burj Dubai Business Hub
Many of the low-rise structures within the Burj Dubai Business Hub are now nearing structural completion in the heart of the development.
“With over 1 million sq ft of prime office space in the world’s most exclusive address, the business hub offers tenants state-of-the-art facilities in one of the most desirable locations in the city. An additional 62,656 sq ft of retail, food courts, and business services as well as an event lawn for corporate entertaining is also part of the master plan,” says the spokesman.
Burj Dubai Business Hub offers a working environment designed to meet the needs of the modern-day, fast-paced business world with features such as flexible lease options, ample parking, VIP drop-off area, express elevators, electronic access cards for parking and tenant areas and round-the-clock security.

The Residences
The Residences – currently standing as the tallest structures with a height ranging from 24 to 41 storeys – aim to offer all the amenities of a metropolitan centre, but with all the comforts and security of an exclusive community. Built on the shores of a 36-acre lake, it comprises nine exclusive towers surrounded by retail outlets and recreational facilities.
Burj Views
Burj Views is the most celebrated address of the whole development. These three residential towers are only a walking distance from the vibrant Bur Dubai Boulevard, The Dubai Mall and the magical Old Town.

Burj Dubai Boulevard
Comparable with any of the top boulevards in the world, Burj Dubai Boulevard – work on which is currently in progress – will provide a thoroughfare through the Burj Dubai downtown community, an inspired concept in urban living, surrounded by chic architecture, cafes, high-fashion shops, stylish hotels and walkways.
This area will also feature The Lofts and Loft Towers – a six-storey podium with private garden courts and air-conditioned shopping arcades, surmounted by a tower – and Burj Dubai Lake Hotel and Serviced Apartments, a 63-storey property offering signature designed, fully equipped service apartments.
Other components of the project include:
• 8 Boulevard Walk: Strategically located in proximity to the Burj Dubai Boulevard, 8 Boulevard Walk will feature retail ground-level shops, podium level amenities including a swimming pool, children’s pool and fully-equipped gymnasium with secure parking provided via basement and podium-level parking, says the spokesman
• South Ridge: This community of stylish apartments offers one, two and three bedroom suites as well as two and three-bedroom penthouses on the rooftop.