Building the new Dubai College Sports Complex – Part 1: Laying the foundation

Godwin Austen Johnson’s Jason Burnside looks at laying the foundation of the project in the first of a series of articles

With just 12 months to complete the next phase of the development of Dubai College the team at Godwin Austen Johnson have quite a challenge ahead of them.

The new Sports and Performing Arts Community Education Centre (SPACE) is by far the most ambitious project of the planned upgrade of the school to date. Located on a condensed part of the site at the back of the campus required the demolition of the existing swimming pool and sports hall to free up valuable land for the new development.

Partner Jason Burnside, the Lead Architect responsible for the project, shares the progress of the project in a series of articles.

“The school’s philosophy is underpinned by four pillars of sporting, creative, philanthropic and academic endeavour and they have a good reputation in all of these areas but due to the recent upgrade of academic teaching spaces it was vital to also invest in the area of sports and drama facilities. The existing building which had, to date, provided excellent facilities for students and teachers is now making way for an unrivalled facility in the region, one that will create a centre of excellence for the school.”

The all new SPACE is a significant investment for the school and will provide a comprehensive sports facility with swimming pool, gym with separate cardio and strength training areas, basketball and netball courts, dance and fitness studios and a health food café for the students. It will also include a black box drama performance space with seating for 140, drama classrooms, music classrooms as well as music practice areas.

“We planned a 12-month construction period so that by July 2020 the contractor will hand over the premises to the school. We gave possession of the site to the contractor in July of this year so that we were able to do much of the demolition work during the summer break. It is quite an aggressive programme but it was something we had planned in order to ensure as little disruption to the school’s academic year as possible,” said Burnside.

With the demolition work completed the next stage was to prepare the soil for the excavation for the foundations. A task that proved a little more challenging than anticipated due to the presence of unknown underground elements that were not on any drawings and were only discovered once work had begun.

Dealing with these did cause a slight delay however the foundations are all now complete and most of the columns to the first floor are also in place. The first floor formwork and back propping has already begun and once this is complete this will allow the contractor to start the fit out on the ground floor.

“The pressure on us as designers is to ensure that work stays on schedule as closely as possible. We are happy that the demolition was done within the time frame but it is an ongoing process which we constantly monitor with the support of the contactor to avoid and potential delays.  We managed to complete a lot of the infrastructure during the design stage and now the building is coming out of the ground it is easier to see what the complex is going to look like,” said Burnside.

Work continues at pace on site and the team are now busy with detailing and coordination of the interior fit out and external skin of the building.

Read part two of the Building the new Dubai College Sports Complex story here


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