Room with a twist

The Big Project hears from Unipods and Azmeel Construction, who are working together on a student housing project with a difference in Dammam, Saudi Arabia

On site, there are few things more important than time and efficiency. Project manager for Azmeel Contracting and Construction Corporation, Tarek Emarah, explains the solution provided by Unipods for its Dammam University Project

When tasked with building accommodation for thousands of students at Dammam University, Saudi Arabia, Azmeel Contracting and Construction Corporation employed an innovative solution to hit their project deadline. Instead of hiring an army of workers to install 300 bathrooms, the company hired Unipods to provide pre-designed and fully fit out bathrooms, in their own ‘pods’ ready to be placed in the each room.

The pods are designed and built prior to onsite installation, when they are lifted into the rooms by crane and connected to utility supplies.

On the Dammam University project, pods were being installed at a rate of up to 24 per day; a total of 276 in phase one and a further 270 in phase two. Overall completion was brought forward by “a couple of months”.

“We were very satisfied with the service of Unipods and we are now under process of awarding Unipods the second phase,” comments Azmeel Contracting project manager, Tarek Emarah.

“Unipods and Azmeel contracting share a philosophy of innovation and excellence that brought us both to the forefront of our industries,” Emarah continues.

Fit out may have been fast, but it wasn’t without its challenges; each pod weights 7 tonnes and is 3.2metres in height.

“Pods were large and very heavy, which made it the installation a challenging process in terms of manoeuvre, but Unipods was able to load the pods into a platform then manoeuvre them throughout the building for up to 100 meter distant,” Emarah adds.Unipods

As a part of Saudi Arabia’s Al Rahji Holding,  the university isn’t Unipod’s only project in the Kingdom, with Princess Noura University, Jizan Housings and ARAC hotels all using Pods as the fit out method to complete projects

The company works to an eight-step process, which goes from design concept to installation and the product catalogue features bathroom pods, Kitchens and Washroom solutions.

“Pod construction runs in parallel with onsite construction and ensures that delivery is both quick and timely. This results in significant time savings and can shorten on site construction time by as much as two to three months, giving a quicker ROI for the investors and end users,” explains company president Philippe Akl , adding the method is also cost effective as it reduces insurance premium due to enhanced health and safety on site. Unipods also manufactures kitchen units.

Pods are manufactured in a factory-controlled environment to preserve quality, and each Pod is fully tested according to industry standards. The pods are then installed by Unipods before the facade of the building is completed, in line with the onsite build program.

Currently, Unipods can manufacture 10,000 bathrooms per year in its factory.

Spreading the word

Azmeel Constracting enjoys an equally strong backing as part of the Azmeel Group. The company is a contractor for SABIC & the Royal Commission and has also executed projects for clients such as Samsung, Hyundai SASREF, BECHTEL, FLOUR, JESCO, Saudi Telecom, SCECO and Danieli & C. Italy.

“In addition to these, our sincere endeavors have led us to execute various projects for the 17 SABIC aliates, inside and outside their plants. is in turn, led to the major Housing projects for SABIC, projects for Saudi Electrical Company and Saudi Telecom Company as well,” explains Emarah

Projects by the company include mega housing complexes, commercial, retail, industrial – including chemical – and public sector civil infrastructure projects.

“This overall experience has given Azmeel the confidence to compete with the European companies and gain the trust of His Majesty, the King of Bahrain. As a result, the company bagged the project for constructing the Royal Palace. In all our execution of construction and contracting sites, Azmeel has earned the trust and confidence thereby eventually creating precedence in the construction industry,” Emarah concludes.

Technical Specs:

276 bathroom pods manufactured, delivered and installed for student accommodation at Dammam University

7 tonnes weight of each pod

3.2 metre height of each pod

Up to 24 pods/ day installed, shortening completion by “a few months”

10,000 bathroom pods per year is Unipod’s current capacity



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