ASGC faces up to logistical challenges

Building on the Palm Jumeirah brings with it inherent logistical challenges. Christopher Sell goes on site at the Golden Mile to see how main contractor ASGC is dealing with material deliveries and storage issues

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By  Christopher Sell Published  December 9, 2006

|~|149proj200.gif|~|The size of the project is presenting unique challenges to ASGC. With a built-up area of 1.3 million m2 – including 720 apartments, 140 villas and 2,800 car parks spaces – over 200,000m3 of concrete and 30,000 tonnes of steel is required.|~|Of all the audacious developments Dubai has become renowned for, bar the Burj Al Arab, the Palm Jumeirah is possibly the most important. While the Burj announced the emirate to a worldwide audience, it could be argued that the Palm Jumeirah set the tone for the next stage of the region’s growth by acting as a catalyst for the subsequent boom in construction and capital investment. Ninety-four million m3 of sand and seven million tonnes of rock have been used to create the world’s largest man-made island, which will become a residential and tourist destination. Consisting of a trunk, a crown with 17 fronds and a surrounding crescent island that forms an 11km breakwater, the first phase of the project includes 4,000 residences with a combination of villas and apartments. Its 78km of beach will have single-handedly doubled the length of Dubai’s coastline. It is on the trunk where the prestigious Golden Mile residences are currently being constructed. These flagship developments, running parallel with the shoreline apartments, are divided into two portions, Golden Mile 1 (GM1) and Golden Mile 2 (GM2). Predominantly residential with some restaurants and offices, there will be 10 buildings stretched along the trunk of the Palm, which will serve to be one of the most high-profile locations on the island. The Golden Mile will offer a mix of luxury apartments, townhouses and penthouses, located above what is earmarked to be the prime shopping address in Dubai. ASGC is the contractor for the US $272 million (AED1 billion) project, and the client is IFA Hotels and Resorts. The main consultant is DSA Architects with LC Consulting as subconsultant. Overseeing the entire project, and ensuring the process runs as smoothly as can be expected on a man-made island in the Gulf, is Maged Rofail, project director with ASGC, who controls all the general work, while facilitating between consultant teams and coordinating various issues. While the buildings offer no significant challenges from a construction point of view, it is the sheer scope of the project and the logistics involved that are what, Rofail says, keep him occupied throughout each stage of the development. “The difficulty here is the volume, it’s very big; we are talking [about] a built up area of 1.3 million m2 with 720 apartments, 140 villas and 2,800 car park spaces,” he says. “That requires 200,000m3 of concrete and 30,000 tonnes of steel. “We have a logistics problem. There is not enough space to store materials. We have a 10m strip [for storage] running along the Golden Mile, which isn’t straight and is excavated in some areas.” When Rofail explains that on any given day 500m3 of concrete needs to be pumped, requiring 50-60 trucks to deliver, which can only go through one entrance to the Palm, it is clear that he needs to be on top of every facet of the build. And it is not simply concrete that must find its way onto the site, a further five to six trailers delivering steel are required each day. “And that is just for us,” adds Rofail. “Many contractors work on the site, so we always have to coordinate with Nakheel if a job needs doing that may affect the site – fixing a crane for example. You need permission, you have to be careful and plan everything.” With space on the trunk for developers at a premium, especially with the monorail in its early stages of construction in close proximity to both the Golden Mile and shoreline residences, it is understandable why Rofail is concerned over storage space. But logistic issues aside, Rofail must also contend with design changes. Just recently, IFA Hotels and Resorts has stipulated some design changes to incorporate leisure facilities into the apartment buildings, which while Rofail is adamant will not affect the completion date, has forced some adjustments to the build. Rofail also adds that there may still be some changes to the overall concept of the Golden Residences, with Nakheel contemplating the addition of a park on the development. At the project’s peak Rofail expects to have 4,500 workers on site, which will be shipped in on 50 buses. NSCC was awarded the piling contract on the project, worth $16.4 million, and bored piles through 20m of sand fill, previously placed by the dredging contractor whilst forming the Palm. The piles are anchored into the rock layer on the seabed. To date, piling has been completed on all buildings on GM2 with five and six on GM1 still to be completed, and building number five should be handed over next week. The last building site should have been handed over on the 5 August 2006, but ASGC will not receive it until the end of December, and it is this delay that has resulted in the contractors working towards two deadlines – a contract date and an expected date. While the contract date is April 2008, the expected date is August 2008. Once again, price rises for supplies has become an issue, although Rofail admits that contractors nowadays are acutely aware of inevitable price rises and have risk factors in their tenders. This should go someway to offsetting the cost of steel rises, which have seen them rise $109 per tonne, an increase of $4 million. “Previously we wouldn’t have worried about this, but over the last two to three years it has become a phenomena; we have to be careful.” For the 720 apartments and 70 townhouses, Rofail explains that the construction is fairly straightforward, albeit using techniques and materials of a high quality befitting its status on the Palm. All vertical construction components of the build are utilising the Paschal system, which provides a better quality finish and is more time efficient, says Rofail. And for the horizontal work, an aluma system is being used, sometimes with a Kaplock system. “We always use what is good for us time-wise and product-wise; time is very important to us.” Waterproofing is conducted using a Sika system, with a PVC injection system, while the concrete is of a high quality that has had special micro-silica added to the concrete for high durability. Whatever the final design plans of the subsequent Palm projects; Deira and Jebel Ali, it goes without saying that the work being put into sculpting a new Dubai coastline will only raise the profile of the emirate even further. And it would be a cynical individual not to admire their endeavour shown thus far to achieve something unique and enduring for the Middle East.||**||

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