Creating the ultimate business ecosystem

After a public bidding process earlier this year, all the available plots at Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) have now been allocated. One new development is The Hexagon, which will, according to its designers, offer commercial and residential space as part of a complete business ecosystem. CW investigates.

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By  Colin Foreman Published  December 18, 2004

Creating the ultimate business ecosystem|~||~||~|What is heralded as a new concept in building design has been unveiled by Swiss-based architectural design company, Creostudio for a new development called The Hexagon Dubai. The integrated mixed-use property incorporates a business ecosystem that aims to set a new standard in real estate development. Designed to be functional, efficient and aesthetic, The Hexagon will offer nearly 160 000 m² of premium quality commercial and residential space within the boundaries of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The US $260 million mixed-use development is slated for completion in 2007 and features five, hexagonal-shaped buildings with a 62-storey main tower. The Hexagon will be among the first freehold property developments in Central Dubai, and will become one of DIFC’s most prominent landmarks. The Hexagon design is based on an in-depth needs analysis of Dubai’s business community and distinguishes itself by its location, environment and concept. Most real estate projects are designed to satisfy the needs of a limited group of tenants, thus creating a landscape dominated by isolated office towers, hotels, and residential buildings. The real estate ecosystem elevates a mixed-use concept to the next level by providing new real estate and business elements, which enhance, enrich and optimise the total system. To combat this problem, the designers of The Hexagon ecosystem aim to set a new standard in real estate development by maximising the properties long-term value through a balanced mix of real estate elements that ‘feed’ off one another. A primary user will utilise the ecosystem and becomes a customer of the secondary and tertiary infrastructure. Markus Giebel, a director of Hexagon Holdings, the development’s primary investor, commented: “Creostudio’s design of the Hexagon takes functional efficiency to a new level. The shape and layout of the buildings combine to form an ecosystem in which the different elements – luxury residences, quality serviced apartments, smart offices, a five-star boutique hotel, an executive education centre, a private business club, a health clinic, high-end retail and restaurants – enjoy a symbiotic relationship and together create an elite professional environment.” The office floors are designed to provide tenants with privacy in mind, along with ease of access and security. All elevators in the main office floors will open directly into the offices, eliminating unproductive public hallways. Offices will also have private elevators accessible only to authorised users. The internal security management and access control systems will provide the highest level of ‘invisible’ security through a combination of smart proximity cards and biometric identification. The Executive Education Centre, adjacent to the networking lounge, will house world-class executive educational institutions, professional service firms, business associations and a business club. A boutique hotel has also been included. The Investment Club, set 250 m above ground at the pinnacle of the main tower, will house a private members-only business club that offers meeting and dining facilities. Commenting on the new development, Sheikh Juma bin Maktoum al Maktoum said: “The Hexagon is designed specifically to meet the exacting requirements of the Dubai International Financial Centre district in central Dubai. This was achieved by evaluating the needs of elite executives and professionals in Dubai and by merging these with best practices worldwide and innovative advances in Real Estate Ecosystem design. The result is an all new, architectural breakthrough that fulfils the unmet needs of Dubai.” Creostudio believes the key differentiator for this development is the all-encompassing, holistic approach that was adopted during the design. This ensured that all the fundamental elements compliment one another to create a functional and well rounded development. “Creostudio specialises in providing innovative, targeted solutions to meet the demanding needs of an elite client base,” said Kaveh Rahmani-Kia, general manager for the Middle Eastern operations of Creostudio SA. “Every project is different. We therefore begin each engagement by focusing on the unique requirements and objectives of the local community. We then assign a dedicated team of designers, engineers, and business professionals to tailor their designs to enhance and support the achievement of maximum value creation for its clients.” Giebel was at pains to highlight the fact that: “The Real Estate Ecosystem takes real estate development in the 21st century to another level of value creation for investors. Our relationship with Creostudio has enabled us to realise and capture a truly exceptional value creation opportunity with The Hexagon Dubai. The Hexagon is definitely the starting point of a series of Real Estate Ecosystem developments that we shall execute worldwide with Creostudio.” When complete, the overall development will cover 48 ha of land and provides 2 million m2 of office space, more than enough to attract large financial institutions and their vast back-of-house operations. The masterplan for DIFC was designed by Gensler and not only provides office space but also offers residential, retail and entertainment space. The idea is that by doing this the development will not just be a place of work, but will become a community for both work and play. This concept reflects recent moves in the traditional financial centres, such as London where institutions have moved to new developments like Canary Wharf. Like many other integrated developments, such as Jumeirah Lake Towers and the litany of Palm Islands, DIFC will provide the central infrastructure, like the basic utilities, district cooling and IT cabling, up to the boundary of the individual plots. From there the developers are responsible for ‘hooking’ up their buildings to the grid. As part of the masterplan, all the properties within the development will have to incorporate an integrated podium that occupies the first five levels, two below grade and three above. These levels will have parking spaces and retail outlets and altogether will create 250 000 m2 of retail space that starts at the almost complete Gate Building in a fully climate-controlled environment. Above the podium will be the fully pedestrianised plaza level. This level has been designed for pedestrians.||**||

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