EXCLUSIVE: $1.2bn Reem Mall’s building envelope nears completion

Construction is rapidly and “smoothly” progressing on another of Abu Dhabi’s iconic retail, leisure, dining, and entertainment destination, Reem Mall, developed at an investment of $1.2bn (AED4.4bn) by Al Farwaniya Property Developments, with the project now being over “three-quarters complete”, James Duncan, chief projects officer at Reem Mall told Construction Week.

Currently, the development is well underway in line with the planned construction and finance targets.

“We have completed the substructure and superstructure, and the external envelope is nearing completion. We look forward to delivering this world-class destination to the people of Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE soon,” said Duncan.

“Floor levels of the structure are complete, while all vertical transportation [including] lifts and escalators have successfully been installed. The construction of the extensive, external road network is well advanced, with all elevated bridge decks now in place.”

Duncan excitedly told us: “We are also thrilled to report the arrival of Snow Park Abu Dhabi’s first set of attractions to the site.”

Itinera Ghantoot, a joint venture (JV) between Italy-based Itinera, and Ghantoot Transport and General Contracting LLC, one of the UAE’s leading builders, is the lead contractor of the project.

Duncan stressed: “In total, we have 25 consultants and specialist sub-consultants engaged on the project. The concept architect is Callison RTKL, which recently won the Residential Project of the Year at CW Awards 2020; WME is the MEP consultant; Architect of Record (AOR) is Dewan; main fit-out sub-contractor is JC Maclean; the MEP sub-contractor is a consortium of Itinera Ghantoot and Dubai Financial Market-listed Drake and Scull International (DSI). Meanwhile, the project management consultant (PMC) is Mace, and project consulting as the cost managers are Compass.”

Duncan explained that the majority of its sub-contractors and suppliers are from the UAE, and interestingly, 15,000 tonnes of steel used on the project has all been fabricated in the UAE.

For the construction of the project, including the parking structures, the contracting JV has “predominantly” used reinforced concrete.

Once complete, the project will have used approximately 380,000m3 of reinforced concrete; 75,000 tonnes of rebar; 15,000 tonnes of structural steel to certain composite elements and the Snow Park; and 75,000m2 of pre-cast hollow core concrete panels.

Talking about the location of Reem Mall, Duncan said: “Reem Mall is located in the heart of the new Abu Dhabi, on Reem Island. It is strategically positioned within this new master-developed residential and commercial zone, which – according to Abu Dhabi’s Urban Planning Council – will eventually be home to more than 210,000 people.

“Once completed, Reem Mall will bring a wide range of unique family-focused retail, leisure and entertainment offerings to residents and visitors of the UAE capital.”

Design inspiration

“From the outset, our ambition has been to design a mall that is both visually stunning and highly functional, delivering a never-seen-before, wonderful, guest experience,” said Duncan. “The interior design of Reem Mall has been inspired by Abu Dhabi’s rich natural surroundings. It echoes the UAE capital’s vibrant mangrove forests, the vast salt flats, and their awe-inspiring crystal formations.”

The mall will be divided into three distinct areas, including the Mangrove Atrium, the Urban Façade and Mall, and the Dynamic Façade and Mall.

“The Mangrove Atrium will form the central axis of Reem Mall and will be aligned to a viewing corridor that created a visual link to the ocean. This part of the mall will be alive with rich natural materials, sunlight, and tall vertical elements,” added Duncan.

“To the south, the Urban Façade and Mall are inspired by the salty crystalline formations left behind on the grey mangrove leaf after transpiration. This part of the mall, inspired by the crystals, will be cubic in nature, with textures emerging and building up from the ground to create a feel of contrast and diversity.

“To the north, the Dynamic Façade and Mall are inspired by the vast salt flats. The contemporary panels used in this area will give the building a distinctive, current day, modern identity, and appearance with the introduction of dramatic angles informing the materials and layouts.”

Building through COVID-19

Duncan noted that since the beginning of construction the company has built “a strong momentum for the project”.

He added: “All construction has been progressing smoothly despite the COVID-19 pandemic. We did ensure reduced capacities in our labour force, in compliance with local safety regulations including social distancing. However, this has not delayed the overall progress of the project to-date.”

Sustainable construction

According to Duncan, Reem Mall has been committed to environmental sustainability and the sustainability goals of the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council (UPC).

“We have strived to exceed the guidelines set out by the council by going above and beyond the minimum requirement. We have been awarded the Estidama 2 Pearl Design Rating by the UPC, in recognition of the responsible development of the project based on four pillars of sustainability: environmental, economic, social, and cultural.”

A large retail property

Reem Mall is one of the largest retail property developments underway in the UAE, which is set to deliver 200,000m2 of gross leasable area, including 600,000m2 of built-up area.

The mall will comprise 450 retail units from local and international brands, including 61 restaurants, two food courts, department stores, one of the largest hypermarkets in the region, as well as unique family-oriented entertainment and edutainment offerings – including Snow Park Abu Dhabi.

Additionally, the mall will feature a basement service level with 60 loading bays and a logistics hub, six levels of car parking with about 6,800 parking bays, and three levels of retail, restaurants, and entertainment.

Worker welfare

Throughout the construction of the mall, industry-leading health and safety standards have been deployed along with strict safety guidelines and precautionary measures for contractors, consultants, company employees, and site workers on the project.

Duncan said: “This includes mandatory five-point Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) protocols for all staff before entering the site premises, workers welfare facilities, a 24-hour medical clinic a 2,000 worker cool room to provide relief from weather conditions, and a dedicated facility on-site for ongoing safety training for workers, sub-contractors, and staff.”

Meanwhile, additional procedures have also been strictly adopted in recent months, including regular temperature tests, mandatory masks, the distancing of welfare facilities and multi-testing, and screening of all workers.

Currently, approximately 6,000 workers have been deployed on-site, who have together completed over 38 million safe man-hours.

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