Join Select Group and contractor ALEC on a tour of the second tower of Marina Gate
Three years ago, Big Project ME visited the Marina Gate project as construction on the building core for the first tower had just begun. Even at that early stage, the scale and size of the project was immediately apparent. Built at the entrance of the Dubai Marina, the three-tower residential project is situated at one of the last remaining waterfront plots in the marina and will form a crucial link for the entire neighbourhood once completed.
Fast-forwarding to the present day, developer Select Group has announced the handover of apartments at Marina Gate 1 following its completion. With residents now moving into the tower, Big Project ME was invited to return and see how work is progressing on the remaining two sites.
The construction of Marina Gate II is now the priority, Select Group says, with completion scheduled for Q2 2019. The third tower – Jumeirah Living Marina Gate – only began construction in Q1 2017, so is considerably further behind in progress, though still on track to finish in 2020, as planned.
“Tower II, the structure is complete to the roof,” says Johan Moolman, senior contract manager with ALEC and the man tasked with overseeing the project for the main contractor.
“There are 64 floor levels, and the façade is on level 27 at the moment, while our internal work is up to level 38. We’re ahead of the façade, and that is the challenge at the moment, to close the envelope, especially with summer and Ramadan approaching very soon. The podium and everything else is finished. We’re currently working on podium seven where we’ve got the swimming pools,” he adds, pointing out that that job is likely to be finished by the time this interview goes to print.
Ian Stapely, senior project manager at Select Group, adds that the tower features 519 residential units, as compared to Marina Gate I, which has 399 residential units spread over 51 floors. He says Jumeirah Living Marina Gate will include 104 serviced apartments, 389 branded residences and 15 villas. A major feature for the project is the combined podium, which is spread over seven levels and will feature a retail colonnade, amenities like an infinity edge pool and gymnasium, and the grand duplex villas.
“A retail colonnade spread over approximately 13,935sqm will connect the entire development. Located on the ground, mezzanine and first floor of the development, Retail and Marina Gate has direct access to the Marina Walk and provides a lively, active connection with the rest of the community, without compromising the privacy of the residents.
“Residents of Marina Gate and other neighbouring developments will have access to more than 50 retail units, including a polyclinic, supermarket, a variety of F&B outlets, salons and recreational facilities. King’s College Hospital London – Medical Centre, Bin Sina Pharmacy, the Coffee Club, Ted Morgan and the Nail Spa are some of the brands that are set to start operations at Marina Gate 1 shortly.
“Once complete, the residents of Marina Gate I and II will be able to enjoy the amenities in both towers with a landscaped interconnected courtyard featuring infinity pools, state-of-the-art gymnasiums with an outdoor gym, children’s pool and play areas, squash and paddle tennis courts and a multi-purpose court, in addition to other facilities. These will be located on podium level seven of both developments.”
Moolman points out that the podiums are integrated between the three towers, which allows smooth flow of residential traffic to all the various amenities in the development. He adds that there are villas on all three towers, and the rest of the space is used by carparks, while the basement houses the crucial equipment and infrastructure for the buildings, such as the plant rooms.
When it comes to the retailers on the podium, he explains that ALEC’s role as main contractor only extends to the shell and core of the project, with fit-out and interiors for the retail segment left up to the individual tenants.
“Our scope of work is shell and core. We hand over to the client and they coordinate with the anchor tenants. However, there’s always a requirement from an anchor tenant back to us, in terms of services and relocating stuff, so we will work together with them to make sure that they open all these retail units.
“For the rest, it’s been a pretty straightforward project, in terms of being a tower. Most of the floors are typical, so it’s a repetition of works and that helps a lot. The challenge that we actually had was around concluding the design, in terms of wind tunnel testing, the reports and so on. But for the rest, it was pretty straightforward – it was about finalising the design and getting the approvals signed off by the Civil Defence,” he says, explaining that these centred around the façade system in use on the towers.
“When the new circular came about the façade systems being fireproof, the challenge for us was not to get it approved, but to get it through the line with Civil Defence. We had to convince them that the system we’re using is compliant. They obviously had criteria of requirement, which we fulfilled and therefore got approval for all three towers.”
Stapely adds that because the Dubai Marina community is developed around a large water body, there was always a risk of water infiltration during the excavation and construction of the underground/basement levels. As such, the project team needed to seek approvals to ensure that their plan to mitigate the risk of water infiltration was approved.
“In order to avoid going too deep underground, special permissions were obtained to increase the height of the podium levels and move the parking floors above ground,” he says, in reference to Marina Gate I. “In addition, due to new authority regulations introduced halfway through construction, the concrete core of the development had to be modified to accommodate the fireman’s lift requirements.”
“Other challenges included building a site with limited access, as the road leading to the plot was not yet constructed. Restrictions were also in place for construction during the night to ensure that there was no noise disturbance for the neighbouring buildings.”
This was a challenge that continues into the construction of Marina Gate II and Jumeriah Living Marina Gate, Moolman says, explaining that ALEC has had to devise a clever system to allow them to bring in materials on time while also keeping on-site disruptions minimal.
“The key for us on-site is to ensure that all of our supply chain buys into on-time delivery. Generally, what happens with jobs is that they flood the site with material and they store it somewhere. Unfortunately, we don’t have that capacity or area to store. Everyone was made very aware of this and was told to follow the plan and make sure that the materials are delivered on time.
“We’ve got a lot of challenges around us – buildings, the tram, road closures and so on. We needed to make sure that the material we needed on time was delivered on time. What we’ve done to streamline that is to take material from the trucks and move it to where it belongs – we take it up to the floors required and we have dedicated areas where we can place the materials down, which makes it easier for the workforce to take it from there.”
Stapely adds that extensive planning was done to ensure that neighbouring residents weren’t disturbed. Special permissions obtained to ensure that heavy deliveries were made at night, while extra personnel were also appointed to administer traffic during busy hours, so as to avoid congestion.
“As residents have moved into Marina Gate I, all efforts are being made to ensure that roads leading to the basement parking remain clear of heavy traffic and machinery during the day. The podium level which will house shared amenities for both Marina Gate I and II has been cordoned off with semi-permanent partitions to create a division between the finished and under construction phases of the development. With strict access control systems in place, only residents and authorised personnel now have access to the development,” Stapely asserts, highlighting the measures taken to ensure new residents are not left too disturbed.
Furthermore, with the concrete plants in Jebel Ali, Moolman says ALEC has worked out approvals with Dubai Municipality to do the site’s concrete works at night. Given that noise is likely to be a major issue, he is quick to stress that the project team has been quite involved in communicating with neighbouring residents to ensure clarity and understanding between all parties.
“You’ll always get the odd resident who’ll complain, but the Dubai Municipality is quite strict with their regulations, and we try to stay within those parameters. It’s 55 decibels in the evening, and during the day it’s obviously higher because of the surrounding noise. Dealing with residents has been quite challenging, but most of them have been quite understanding. We do look to meet with them and discuss what has to happen to make the project successful, and Dubai Municipality is quite involved.”
With the site operating on a 24-hour construction schedule, with two shifts for the 2-3,000 workers on-site, this flexibility and support from the clients and authorities has been crucial in ALEC – working as a design and build contractor for this project – being able to meet deadlines and handover projects on time, he asserts.
“From a design point of view, being a design and build contract, we’ve got a bit of flexibility in terms of managing the process. It’s a lot more efficient – any changes that come out, we sit down with the client and they assist us in getting through the line. Select has been quite helpful and we’ve established a great team with them.”
In addition to being the design and build contractor, ALEC also has two of its subsidiaries involved on the project – ALEMCO and ALEC Fit-out and Interiors, who handle the MEP work and interior finishes respectively. Having an in-house team involved not only makes project milestones easier to achieve, as they all have the same agenda, but also ensures better collaboration and coordination, Moolman says.
To ensure transparency and clarity, the team has been using BIM on the project right from the outset. This has made for a remarkably clear and collaborative construction process, as it ensures transparency, he asserts.
“On Jumeriah Living Marina Gate, the consultants have worked hand-in-hand with us in terms of developing the design. On Marina Gate I and II, we got the design from the previous consultant and we enhanced that a little bit. But everybody has access to the BIM model – we set up workshops on a daily basis until we had the BIM model fleshed out and everything worked in terms of coordination and requirements. Of course, you do pick up issues as you go along, but it’s something you can fix quite quickly. We can identify things very early and we could catch them as we went up the tower.”
Health and safety was another major concern for the team, given the number of worker operating on-site, and Moolman asserts that ALEC operates a zero-tolerance policy for any violations.
“We carry HSE very close to our hearts. What we do is make sure that everyone that comes to the site gets safety inducted. We have daily toolbox talks, where we discuss the area that the guys will be working on for that particular day and the activity they will be executing, and the risks thereof. Everybody is aware of what the requirements are on a daily basis, and it’s in our interests that everybody comes to the site safely and also leaves safely.
“There have been a few incidents, but they’ve been minor. We’ve not had any fatalities or anything major. We’re quite strict and make sure that everybody follows the rules,” he concludes.
Ian Stapely on designing and Building Marina Gate I
Marina Gate I has been conceptualised with great attention to detail. In keeping with needs of the residents, the building integrates all its functions into a sequence of inviting spaces, which permit a proper progression from public to private areas, from active to quiet uses, and from utilitarian functions to presentation areas.
Form follows function
The Residences at Marina Gate are designed from the inside out, with every apartment planned to maximise indoor space with high ceilings and right angles, perfectly balancing the striking, modern vertical lines with inspired interior decoration.
The villas are a perfect representation of how space usage has been maximised. All villas in the development are uniquely designed, with architectural lighting features that help support the luxurious design without obstructing the view. Equipped with private lifts, residents of the villas have direct access to the Marina Walk and dedicated car parking bays on the same levels as the villas.
The striking all-glass façade of the development features strategically placed mesh fins with illumination. The façade design was inspired by the need to maximise the stunning waterfront and cityscape views for residents.
Luxuriously appointed lift lobbies and spacious corridors are finished in premium marble finishes. The luxurious amenities in the development are fitted with grade A appliances and five-star standard furnishings.
- Huge floor-to-ceiling, three-panel glass windows with pressure locking sliding glass door and glass balustrades on the balconies maximise views and provide abundant natural light. A guide rail seamlessly extends the living room onto the full glass balcony.
- All residences are equipped with built-in wardrobes in real wood walnut finish veneer with full-height inset mirrors and soft close drawers. Integral lighting feature in the hanging rails, concealed drawer runners and built in shoe-racks are a standard feature in the development.
- Spacious kitchens feature gas alarm with manual emergency gas cut-off, extra deep stainless-steel sinks, built-in fridge and freezer, gas hobs and ovens, recessed lighting, freestanding and concealed washing machines, adjustable spotlights and intelligent storage solutions. Cabinets and drawers are soft close. The aluminium perforated ceiling access for the AC unit offers easier access than traditional single panel access points, as well as being cleaner and more aesthetically appealing.
- Bathrooms are divided into dry and wet areas with full-height tiles in glass cubicles, rain showers and linear drains. Fitted with hardwearing Silestone counter tops, all bathrooms feature built-in storage and backlit mirrors.
- Podium-level villas feature bi-folding doors and full-glass windows overlooking spacious terraces ideal for waterfront entertainment.
Curtain boxes have been added in all rooms for convenient curtain installation.