Record Breaking… with a twist

Twisting 90?, the record-breaking Infinity Tower by Cayan Real Estate will be Dubai’s newest landmark when it opens later this year. The Big Project’s Melanie Mingas takes a sneak preview

When Cayan Real Estate announced it would build a tower with a 90 ? twist on Dubai Marina, the idea was met with apprehension and cynicism.

The situation worsened in 2007, when a marina wall was breeched, flooding the newly-dug foundations.

However, the developer was determined to “get back out there and re-plan”, according to chief development officer (CDO) Ahmad Kasem.

“Sure enough everybody on site was laughing and they joked the site was just an extension of the marina,” he recalls.

Taking 14 months and costing around 30% of the original anticipated budget to restore the marina barrier and project foundations, it looked like Infinity Tower would not materialise, but now — only months from completion — the ambitious tower is almost ready to prove its critics wrong.

Calling it “the most challenging project I have ever worked on”, Kasem explains that construction, interior fit outs and even the facilities management of the tower posed major logistical hurdles for the team.

“The first complexity was creating the spiral around the core; each storey rotates by as much as 1.08 ? around a fixed core, which tapers to the top storey. The second challenge was that, as a result, each of the 48 columns moves in different directions.

“Furthermore, the curtain wall made the surveying process very tedious because the surveyor had to shoot 48 individual columns. The building movement had to be closely monitored and we had to keep checking to make sure the movement was within the columns.”



Big Budget

The cost (AED) of Infinity.


Further issues were caused when lining up plumbing and AC vents, which had to be structured. Yet the fourth complexity Kasem names is as obscure as it is challenging; window cleaning. Because the tower twists, the cleaning cradle cannot scale the building. “We had the top window-cleaning companies in the world presenting different systems for about three months. In the end we put anchor points on every floor for the cleaners to tie themselves to,” Kasem recalls.

Upon completion, the building will incorporate 5800 tons of steel and 20,000m3 of concrete; materials which had to be compacted and strengthened to achieve the required elasticity.

In addition to the twist, on-site workers also experienced a learning curve; with the workforce receiving extra training to help them understand the intricacy of the materials and engineering.

Peri and Mivan formwork systems were specified and a two-storey mock-up was built onsite to assist the training programme.

Quality objectives

While Infinity Tower is not the world’s first tower with a twist, it is the most extreme. Having opened in 2005, the Turning Torso in Malmö, Sweden, was — upon completion — the tallest building in Scandinavia, at 190m. But its twist is a mere 52 ?, making Infinity a record breaker in terms of twist and height, asserts Kasem.




At the busiest point of construction, more than 3500 workers were on site


Yet for Kasem, the finished product is about more than record-breaking twists and engineering feats. Touring the fully fitted-out, mock-up apartments on the seventh floor, he draws attention to “high-quality finishes” including marble floors, York chillers and “matched-up” joints and walls lined with “razor-sharp precision”, despite leaning in different directions within the same apartment. Even apartment door handles feature a signature twisting design.

“If you visit any of our buildings, we do not follow in other people’s steps; we use expensive materials and specific planning and our buildings are developed according to a commitment to quality which stems forth from day one,” Kasem says.

The first complexity was creating the spiral around the core; each storey rotates by 1.08 ? around a fixed core which tapers to the top storey”

Today, Cayan Real Estate has eight developments in Dubai, five of which are in the Marina.

In terms of investors, when the Infinity project first began in 2006, interest came from far and wide, says Kasem. While the turbulent interim has led to a cautious investor approach, he hopes the opportunity “to be part of an iconic building”, in addition to attention to detail in the building fit-out, will be enough to see it fully-occupied upon opening.

“We will see people purchasing soon whether directly from Cayan or in secondary sales. Within the next six months the facade and tower will be finished and the luxury finishes inside will help the apartments and suites sell,” Kasem asserts.

We had the top window cleaning companies in the world presenting different systems for about three months. in the end we put anchor points on every floor for the cleaners to tie themselves to”

The Statistics

Location: Dubai Marina

Height: 307m

Storeys: 73

Depth of excavation: 27m

Site area: 3161m2

Built-up area: 92,000m2

Construction period: 2006-2011

Budget: AED 1.2 billion

Workers on site: 3500

Man hours: 7,964,896

Project partners: Cayan Real Estate Investment and Development; Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Khatib and Alami (K&A); Projacs, Currie and Brown; STS Consultant, SSE; Arabtec Construction LLC; Al Dhafra Piling Foundation and Emaar

Upon completion: The building will feature a range of one, two and three bedroom apartments, suites and penthouses; a communal outdoor pool, recreation centre and cigar lounge

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