The Zayed Sports City area of Abu Dhabi is undergoing a major transformation.
The first phase of this is Arzanah, which is a 1.4 million m2 development encompassing residential, retail, and commercial, sports and leisure components. Strategically located in the Zayed Grand Mosque District on Abu Dhabi Island, Arzanah will offer a unique active urban lifestyle for both residents and the community at large.
The first phase of this is the construction of Rihan Heights.
Rihan Heights is a new residential development comprising five tower blocks which sit upon a podium car park. The Tower blocks house a total of 854apartments and 14 town houses and facilities including a health club, leisure deck and swimming pool.
Ray Thorpe from Turner and Townsend told Premier Construction about the project, he said:
“In 2006 the project to refurbish the Shaikh Zayed Sports City area was announced as part of the Arzanah development, the first stage was Rihan Heights.
“This is a substantial project, before we started work it was a big open area surrounding the Zayed National Stadium in Abu Dhabi, so there actually wasn’t anything there at the time. There were a few practice football pitches and rugby pitches but basically it was open land.
“We originally bid for the services as the pre-contract Cost Manager for the project , here we are five years later and it’s finally finished.”
The Main Contract, which was originally valued at approximately AED 1.9 billion (approximately US$500 million), was awarded to Silver Coast Sunway Innopave Joint Venture (SCSI JV). Sunway Innopave is a subsidiary of Sunway Construction Sdn Bhd, the construction arm of leading multi-disciplinary conglomerate Sunway Group headquartered in Malaysia. Silver Coast Construction & Boring Est, is a leading contractor based in Abu Dhabi.
The design architect was SMC Alsop.
Rihan Heights is now complete, with the majority of the work being completed in May 2012.
“It was a major residential project – there were five fairly similar tower blocks providing luxury high-end apartments ranging from one bedroom to large duplex penthouses. There are also 14 executive villas built into the lower levels. There is a leisure deck on top of the podium which provides a health club, swimming pool and barbeque area so it is a very high-end, desirable development with great views of the city and the Grand Mosque.
“The actual construction is a fairly traditional reinforced concrete frame. We then have a mixture of high quality finishes from marbles through to ceramics, plaster and paint etc. within the buildings. There is good quality timber work and joinery to the doors and windows and top quality kitchens and sanitary ware – what you’d expect from this type of development.
“Externally it’s a fairly modern contemporary look – a mixture of curtain walls, external glazing, pre-cast, painted and rendered concrete so it’s not an aluminium box as so many of the apartment buildings are here.
“Most of the buildings within the development are relatively straight forward- the one that is interesting is the clubhouse which is a steel-framed structure. They built it in steel because the shape and design are so complicated that it was the only material that it could be built in- it’s almost an “armadillo” like shape.”
In terms of challenges on the project, the 2008 banking crisis and subsequent recession brought questions about whether the project was viable and would even be completed.
On this, Ray Thorpe said:
“The recession did have a major effect – in late 2008 and early 2009 the developer was considering cancelling the job due to the downturn. I think everybody recognised the project had been let at the very peak of the boom, and to put it bluntly, there was some fat in the project.
“There was a fairly substantial value engineering exercise undertaken and a dramatic commercial review to try and cut some money out of the project to make it viable. Eventually a deal was done between the contractor and the client and the job proceeded- it is credit to the developer that they’ve continued with the development in a very difficult environment.
Ray spoke about the importance of the project for both the area in Abu Dhabi where it is located and for Turner and Townsend. He said:
“From a Turner and Townsend point of view it was vital to us at a time when the recession really hit in the region and projects were being cancelled every week. It was a very important source of steady employment, we managed to keep a team of up to five people on the job and to keep going. From a personal point of view it was an interesting major project to be involved with that had various challenges.
“The whole area is being redeveloped – it’s very close to the old airport in Abu Dhabi, which many years ago was the commercial airport. The project has very much kick-started the area, now there are a lot of new projects nearby which I don’t think would be there if this project hadn’t been finished. It’s very much a key or anchor to redeveloping a new area.
“I think congratulations are in order for the Turner and Townsend team who worked on the job, they all worked very hard over the 4 years and showed tremendous commitment on a difficult and challenging job – they’re the ones who really made the difference.”
Imran Qureshi, a Senior Cost manager who worked on the project throughout said:
“It is always a great feeling to see a project take shape and even more so to be there upon completion. To be involved in such a prestigious project as Rihan Heights from start to finish was a great privilege and credit should go to the entire team involved including the tireless workers on site. Rihan Heights has definitely given the Zayed Sports City area a new lease of life and hopefully will encourage further development around the area”.
Mike Cottam, Senior Cost Manager and team leader said:
“It has been a pleasure to work on this project and to see so many people from so many nations come together to ensure its success. It is a great example of what can be achieved even during such difficult economic times with a committed and focused client. Anyone who lives at or visits Rihan Heights will immediately see the hard work and commitment of everyone who has worked on the development providing a perfect setting for a new community to develop. On a personal note I would give praise to our site team for never tiring from day one to final account in its obligation to protect our client’s commercial position.”