Gavin Davids profiles Sterling Towers, Omniyat’s twin-tower residential project in the Downtown Dubai area
The Downtown Dubai area has long been known as a hotspot for architectural design and engineering – not just regionally, but around the world as well. Dominated by the towering Burj Khalifa, the buildings in the area are not just symbols of Dubai’s towering ambitions, but examples of the ingenuity and creativity of some of the brightest minds in the global architecture and engineering community.
Therefore, if a developer is to launch a project in this neighbourhood, it had better be ready to bring its A-game. And perhaps no developer understands this better than Omniyat, which has several projects in and around the area, including the distinctive Opus in Business Bay and the striking Pad in Downtown Dubai.
Adding to the portfolio is the upcoming The Sterling development, opposite Dubai Mall and near the Dubai Canal. A twin-tower residential project with 385 residential units on offer, along with retail spaces, the development aims to provide its residents with a sense of community in Downtown Dubai, with the canal promenade and community gardens on their doorstep, Omniyat says.
“Omniyat is highly focused on creating masterpieces in vantage locations within master communities in Dubai,” says Peter Stephenson, executive director of Property Development and senior project director at Omniyat. “For The Sterling, the vision was to encapsulate bespoke luxury living in a vibrant location. A great advantage was the Burj Khalifa views and the downtown location, along with the proximity to the Dubai Canal, where residents are within walking distance to great built and natural amenities. In addition, the project offers great links to Dubai’s major arterial roads, which means convenient access in and out of the area.
“All our projects are unique in character, design and execution. The Sterling caters to our specific clientele, who value quality, craftsmanship and our attention to detail,” he adds. “Omniyat is focused on bringing the very best of living experiences for the residents of our projects. The Sterling has a home automation system that is primed and ready for any user’s demands. Features like light settings, curtains and turning on the air conditioning while the homeowner is on the way home from work, through to seamless Wi-Fi throughout the buildings, are just a small part of a system that is capable of being specifically tailored by any resident.”
Omniyat adds that the two towers come pre-wired so that residents have easy internet connectivity, while the apartments are also designed to incorporate smart living concepts. Stephenson explains that the system was easily integrated during the construction process, as it was originally designed to be installed into finished buildings that wanted to upgrade to home automation. As such, the entire system operates wirelessly, with the only thing behind the wall being a back-box behind the unit’s main touchscreen.
Known as East and West House respectively, each tower offers a range of unit sizes, from studios of 49sqm to one-bedrooms of 92-96.3sqm. The penthouse units are 367.5-524.1sqm, while the two-bedroom and three-bedroom units max out at 159.7sqm and 235sqm respectively.
Each tower will have dedicated amenities and each unit will have high-quality finishes and materials, including marble flooring and walls, bespoke crafted and fitted wardrobes, and walk-in closets, he adds.
Furthermore, Stephenson points out that the Dubai Mall is a five-minute walk away for residents, while the Dubai International Airport is a 15-minute drive away. In addition, the location offers easy access to Sheikh Zayed Road, Al Khail Road and Emirates Road, a factor that was important to the smooth construction progress.
Work on The Sterling began in 2017, with Sun Engineering and Contracting Company appointed as the main contractor. Stephenson confirms that the project is expected to be completed on schedule by Q2 2020 and explains that by constructing the two towers together, the development team was able to achieve greater efficiencies on-site.
“The team has been able to take advantage of shared resources between each project, leading to greater efficiencies in the construction methodology, especially with both projects now reaching significant milestones in terms of structural completion for each tower,” he highlights, adding that it actually works in the construction team’s favour to have one tower slightly behind the other in terms of construction progress. This allows the team to switch around work cycles and ensure that workers on-site are continuously kept busy and occupied, with the two towers sharing resources to ensure that there are no significant delays or shortfalls.
Omniyat says the workforce currently operates in two shifts, with the morning shift starting at around 5:30am and the night shift at around 4pm. Workers are transported to the site by bus early in the morning, before there is significant traffic build-up, but there are fewer restrictions on the movement of materials into the site due to its location, which has direct access to Emirates Road and Al Khail Road through Business Bay.
“We work with reputable contractors and subcontractors who ensure that the highest standards are met in the region with regard to staff management and transport,” adds Stephenson.
For waste management on-site, he explains that Omniyat has put in place directives to ensure that sustainable practices are followed by the workforce. “Separate waste skips for biodegradable waste is provided on-site and it is disposed of once in two days. For the floor marble cutting waste, this is segregated and disposed of separately, as it will be recycled and used in the mosaic industry.”
In addition, measures have been put into place to ensure that noise and pollution levels are managed on-site so as not to disturb neighbouring buildings or to fall foul of Dubai Municipality regulations. During the night shift, workers are not allowed to do any work that creates noise, so most night-time operations take place inside the apartments, with the teams doing things like tiling, kitchen work or even cleaning the site.
“We water access roads regularly, as well as construction areas, for dust control. In addition, closed waste chutes are provided to reduce dust generation. RCC elements are plastered (at additional cost) instead of fair facing, so as to avoid dust generation as well,” Stephen says, adding that pest control measures were initiated quite early on during the construction process. “Sanitation facilities are also provided on alternate floors, with biodegradable waste segregated and disposed of regularly, so as to avoid mosquito breeding.”
HSE is also an important consideration for the developer, with Stephenson pointing out that daily tool box talks are held to improve the awareness of construction staff, and to extol the benefits of personal protective equipment.
“Construction rest areas are also provided on-site, while sanitation facilities are provided at multiple locations and levels on-site. In addition, rehydration liquids are provided and distributed free of cost during hot working days, while there is forced ventilation for all work in space-restricted areas.”
When it came to the planning and design stages of the project, Stephenson says all Dubai Municipality standard requirements were met, even though BIM was not used extensively on the project. Instead, the construction team relied upon shop drawings and schematic designs, with the latter drawn up by a council of architects and consultants before being handed over to the main contractor and subcontractors. They then took the schematic designs and turned them into shop drawings, which were then used to build the project.
He adds that the developer uses off-site manufacturing to a considerable extent, with furniture in the apartment units designed and manufactured in Italy and Germany before being shipped to Dubai already assembled. These items are then installed on-site.
A similar process is also followed on-site for the ducting systems, with Stephenson explaining that pre-insulated ducts are used instead of GI + insulation ducts. Furthermore, the towers’ window frames also come prefabricated from the factory, thereby removing the requirement to assemble them on-site. Instead, all the frames are installed first, and the glass is put into place afterwards.
Finally, Omniyat says that while there isn’t a formal green-star rating for the project, the construction and development team has worked on the project in as sustainable a manner as possible. It highlights that all the concrete mixes used on the project are environmentally friendly, while it has mandated the use of chemicals that don’t harm the environment. Furthermore, it has installed specific concrete washer tanks on-site to ensure that no dirty or contaminated water washes out into the street or into surrounding areas, it concludes.