Site visit: Dubai Festival City

The phase two expansion of the mall is drawing to a close

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This aerial image was done by ALEC with approval of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority under (DCAA/NOC-AP/2016/075).
This aerial image was done by ALEC with approval of the Dubai Civil Aviation Authority under (DCAA/NOC-AP/2016/075).

It seems that in the UAE you can never have too many malls. There have been the recent opening of Yas Mall and City Centre Me’aisem in Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively, for instance. These are shortly to be followed by the likes of Reem Mall and The Galleria on the islands of Abu Dhabi. On top of this, there have been a number of mall expansions including the Mall of the Emirates in Dubai.

It could be argued that one of the most impressive mall redevelopments has been the two-phase extension of Dubai Festival City which started in September 2014.

The project client is Al-Futtaim Group Real Estate (AFGRE), the real estate development and operations arm of Al-Futtaim.

The vision was to redevelop the Dubai Festival City shopping mall, offering high standard facilities such as new anchor stores and reconfigured corridors to provide shoppers with a new experience and retailers with better circulation. 

Dubai Festival City is formed into three distinct districts and connected by a 30km internal road network and creek side promenade. Upon completion, 50,000 residents will live in 20,000 villas, townhouses and apartments and 50,000 people will work in the area.

The project scope included the internal refurbishment of the existing main retail mall and the Marina Pavilion located at the heart of Dubai Festival City. The general direction of the refurbishments was to increase tenable areas and to connect the pavilions to the main mall by enclosing the canal side and converting these newly enclosed areas into circulation areas. In addition, the Festival Square roof and façade was to be extended over the canal to the marina front and a new façade design was proposed for the pavilion buildings to provide a flexible and spacious arcade that can be open during the cooler months.

The first phase was undertaken by Al-Futtaim Carillion and Al-Futtaim Engineering and completed in September 2015.

Phase two began in January 2015, with Al-Futtaim Engineering this time working alongside main contractor ALEC.

Al-Futtaim Engineering’s scope of work for phase two includes all MEP oversight and execution for the development of a new food court, the north and south anchor stores and the canal walk. Hani Nsouli, acting general manager, MEP projects division at Al-Futtaim Engineering, said: “The integration of the south food court into the north food court will make the food court more festive and create better interaction among shoppers.”

John Chacko, senior project manager, MEP division at Al-Futtaim Engineering, added: “The conversion of the canal walk into an enclosed space will create more opportunities for retailers and the introduction of new shops will definitely increase the mall’s revenue which was once a non-revenue facility.”

Phase two has provided room for new anchor stores including Paris Gallery on the south side and Robinsons on the north side. Others will be announced in due course.

Chacko outlined some of the project challenges faced by Al-Futtaim Engineering.

“Works were done in a live mall, hence we had to make sure the MEP services and existing mall facilities were unaffected during the expansion phase,” he says.

Nsouli notes that with the work being done in phases the commissioning of the MEP was challenging. Multiple systems needed to be integrated in sequence with existing systems as well as the life and safety systems having to be reprogrammed.

“We had to coordinate with the mall management, facilities management and ALEC to carry out the isolation, shutdown and rerouting of exiting services,” he says.

Chacko points out that the site location provided its own logistical challenges.

“Limited storage implied logistics coordination with suppliers to ensure materials were delivered on time and to stopworkmen redundancy due to such shortages,” he says.

One of the innovative construction techniques used on the project was the chilled water flow for each tenant that was monitored and controlled based on the delta T returned from each tenancy utilising pressure independent control valves (PICV).

“This ensured optimal energy utilisation,” Chacko says. “Monitoring is done in most malls but not the control. That is something unique.”

The project has reached around 90% completion and is due to be handed over in September.

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