Site visit: Exploring Orbi Dubai's MEP systems

Imteeaz Goolamhossen, engineering manager, and Christian Mendoza, electrical engineer, at Bluehaus Engineering, share details on the MEP works implemented at Orbi Dubai


"It’s a one-off project that you will do in your life, and you cannot be sure if you are able to work on such types of project again,” says Imteeaz Goolamhossen, engineering manager at Bluehaus Engineering.

The project Goolamhossen is referring to is the wildlife theme park Orbi Dubai, located at Mirdif City Centre. This is the third Orbi facility to open worldwide, and the first outside Japan.

Constructed inside Magic Planet, Orbi Dubai is a virtual wildlife park that features a custom built theatre and an interactive walk-through. It was built in collaboration with Majid Al Futtaim (MAF), BBC Earth and Sega.


MEP systems

MEP Middle East recently visited Orbi Dubai, the MEP works of which were carried out by Bluehaus Engineering, the MEP engineering division of Bluehaus Group.

Amidst the nature-themed sounds inside the attraction, Christian Mendoza (right in picture), electrical engineer, elaborated on the MEP systems employed at the facility. He says: “The MEP technologies here are more of building services. We could say that there is one special item here and it is called displacement ventilation. It’s not a new thing. It’s present in most airports. What we do is we pressurise the space under the chairs so that the air goes out and the return [air] is above the ceiling. 

“Overall, the technology side is amazing. The sound system, network, speakers and woofers, projectors, and screens are all designed by the Japanese company Sega. We provided the MEP provisions for those systems.”

Mendoza says that the major challenge was in segregating the spaces inside Magic Planet. He says: “Magic Planet is one retail space. So there was a big challenge in segregating Orbi. The challenging part was the electrical components; there are four transformers feeding Magic Planet and the available spare was not sufficient. There were very minimal electrical provisions. We took power from multiple distribution points. Having said that, they [client] did ask us to study how to separate the power. We did propose a new transformer with space allocation, and one main distribution panel (MDP); however, due to budget constraints, they did not proceed with that. At the end of the day, it’s all about budget.” 

Lost in translation

One of the other challenges in this MEP project, according to Mendoza, was coordination. He says: “If you are dealing with multiple consultants, the first challenge is language. Sega from Japan had a translator; however, when information was passed from Japan to us, there would be a bit of loss in translation. 

“But the good thing is if we did not understand what they put in a drawing, which was most of the time in Japanese, we would schedule a Skype call and there would be someone who would translate everything for us.”  

Mendoza said that there were some changes that needed to be made after the drawing stages and during the construction. “This created a little bit of friction between the consultant and the contractor, which is normal in any construction industry. However, as there was support from us and Sega, it all went well,” he says.

Winning the project

Goolamhossen reveals the reason for Bluehaus Group winning the MEP contract at Orbi. He first provides an overview of the operations of Bluehaus Group. He says: “We’ve got a business unit that handles MEP engineering. The advantage is that most clients understand the benefits of having designers under the same roof. Coordination happens at a much easier level. This is our USP. 

“The second thing that we believe got us that job [at Orbi] is that we work with BIM (building information modelling) Revit. We explained to the client the benefits of BIM and working on Revit platform. Some clients do understand that. MAF (Majid Al Futtaim) was one of the clients that understood the benefits of working on a project in BIM. We showed them the 3D model, how coordination is done and how changes can be done on the drawing instead of coming to the site.” 

Support and DLP

The defect liability period (DLP) for this project, which opened on 9 May 2017, is one year, says Goolamhossen. Now that the project has ended he says that the contractor has got a couple of snags that needs to be attended to. He explains: “As soon as the snags are fixed, we come here and inspect. We make sure that what is delivered is as per the specification, as per the client requirement, and as per the drawing. If things are not done, we highlight this to the contractors. That’s part of the deal. Another support that we are providing to the client is that if they’ve any issues that the contractor cannot solve, then the clients seek our technical advice. For instance, there was one smoke detector that was triggering an alarm. The issue was that there was a bit too much fog in a room and the defroster was not working properly. So we provided that advice to the client.” 

Goolamhossen admits that no project nor any building developed is ever going to be perfect. “There will always be a time period when things will need to be fixed. You start the operation, and you will have some issues. You need to tweak it, fine-tune it.”

Although DLPs typically span a year, the contract terms can be amended to extend the coverage, says Goolamhossen.

He elaborates more on DLPs: “It depends on [the] contract. If you refer to the International Federation of Consulting Engineers (FIDIC) contract, which most of the projects in the Middle East are based on, it clearly mentions one year. But now you can modify that contract.”

Goolamhossen notes that the contract can also be for five years.

He adds: “A DLP doesn’t mean that the contractor will maintain the system. It means that in case of any malfunction, anything that’s not related to wear and tear, the contractor will need to come on site and rectify it.

“For example, [if] the AHU/FCU malfunctions or the filters get clogged, it’s not the responsibility of the contractor to come and clean that. It’s the responsibility of the operations team or the FM team to make sure that the filters are clean. DLP is a nice term, but it needs to be understood properly.”

Goolamhossen says that it is important to define the responsibilities of each stakeholder involved, which is reportedly what the DLP does. 

He concludes: “[DLP] clearly defines everything; here’s the line in the sand. I hand over to you and you operate it. If you misuse it, it’s on you. 

“But if you maintain it properly, and if there are still any issues, the contractor will need to get involved.” 

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