New WTC Residence starts springing up on Dubai’s real estate gold mine

Carefully crafted from the demolition site of the original World Trade Centre Hotel, the new WTC Residence is set to provide plush apartment living in Dubai’s CBD. Zoe Naylor gets down below sea level to witness the emergence of this prize gem of Dubai real estate.

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By  Zoe Naylor Published  January 21, 2006

excavation work is now complete but dewatering continues on the most expensive real estate plot in the city|~|105proj200.gif|~|With the piling work now complete, raft construction is getting underway. Once the main construction begins, Woutersen hopes to proceed at the rate of one floor per week. Construction is due to be completed by the end of 2007.|~|After a controlled explosion reduced Dubai’s World Trade Centre (WTC) Hotel to a pile of rubble in April last year, the WTC Residence development has begun to take shape on the site of the former hotel. Around 200 kilos of explosives were used to collapse the six-storey WTC Hotel, leaving behind 48 000 m3 of rubble to be removed. “Once the building was down, the process of actually removing the material went very quickly,” says Paul Woutersen, construction manager, Turner Construction International (project and construction manager). “The massive excavation process included breaking off concrete from the rebar, as we try to recycle material as much as possible.” And now the process of constructing the new hotel is underway: “The bulk of the excavation and all the conversion works in terms of the piling are now complete. “We’re putting in the lining at the moment and the first stage of reinforcing will be the raft slab,” says Woutersen. The WTC Residence will incorporate two towers, featuring a total of 377 luxury apartments built alongside the World Trade Centre. One of the towers will be 40 storeys; the other will be 30 storeys. And the overall footprint of the building will be approximately 9000 m². The towers will be configured in an L-shape abutting one another, with an overall date for completion scheduled for the end of 2007. Most of the tenders for the project have now been awarded, with the superstructure contract being given to DCC (Dubai Contracting Company). “We purposely selected a superstructure contractor on the basis that we want to have, as near as possible, a problem-free construction period,” explains Woutersen. “DCC is not a main contractor — they will purely do the superstructure works. We’ve linked a couple of sub-contractors in with them.” He says that one of the reasons for this was to do with the tendering process: “If you go the construction management route, you get tighter control of the prequalification, tendering and selection process by breaking the project down into discrete packages. “If you go the main contractor route, you lose significant control of the tendering process i.e. you cannot influence the selection of sub-contract packages.” Other contractors on the project include Swissboring, which was responsible for the (now complete) piling works; Al Abbar for the cladding; Bilt for the MEP works; and ETA Melco for the lifts. Tenders that are still to be awarded include the finishing and landscaping works. “So far everything is on schedule,” says Woutersen. “We’ve only just started off with the raft construction.” Once the main construction works get underway, the turnaround time for floor construction is likely to vary. “On the upper floors we’ll be looking at around five days per floor, and on average we’re looking at around one week per floor,” he says. The building will comprise two lift shafts — one in each of the towers — with a service lift going down into the parking area. Dewatering will enable the excavation of two basements, which will provide the parking area. This has been an important aspect of the project so far: “As we’re going down to a fair depth (-9 m is the deepest point for the lift shaft) extensive dewatering had to be carried out,” explains Woutersen. Dewatering wells were installed beyond the shoring wall and are still pumping to temporarily lower the water table. “We’re still dewatering at the moment and will continue to do so until we reach the third floor, then we can switch it off and we’ll let the water table rise again.” While a growing number of the region’s construction projects are turning to precast concrete solutions to help reduce installation times and improve strength and load bearing capacity, the WTC appears to be bucking the trend with the entire structure being be cast in situ. The reason for this, according to Woutersen, is the design of the building: “We could have used some sections in precast, but the biggest problem you have when using precast is coming back to things like MEP and redesigning openings etc. “We don’t have a lot of sheer walls within the building; it’s a very economical design and one that doesn’t allow for us to go in and remove elements from it,” adds Woutersen. “It would also have meant re-submiting to Dubai Municipality to get the permits sorted, and at the end of the day it didn’t appear worthwhile. It was designed as an economical ‘cast in situ structure’ and the decision was made to leave it as such.” Arabian Mix is currently providing concrete, which is grade 40 and 5800 psi. While the construction process is currently going smoothly, the contractors on site are prepared for potential problems with the future supply of materials. “No construction project here in Dubai is easy, purely because of the speed things that are happening,” he says. Location could also prove to be tricky as time progresses: “Getting materials to site will become harder, especially with the redevelopment of the World Trade Centre and extension of the exhibition halls. This means we will have almost zero space — almost the area of just the footprint to work with.” Given the ambitious development plans for the immediate area surrounding the World Trade Centre, it looks as if the WTC Residence project may have to fight for construction space in what is fast becoming a congested part of the city.||**||

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