Site Visit: Assila Towers, Jeddah.
RELATED ARTICLES: Face-to-face: William Haddad l Engineering Genius: King Abdulaziz Airport l Qatar: first signs of progress? The Assila Towers project on Jeddah's fashionable Tahlia Street is set to become a landmark location - a 5-star hotel operated by Rocco Forte, but its prominent position has produced unique logistic challenges for Al-Sd General Contracting Rising out of the well-known Tahlia Street district in Jeddah, near the Corniche and a 20- minute drive from the airport, the Assila Towers are set to become a landmark building in Jeddah, a 5-star hotel and serviced apartments operated by Rocco Forte, with a distinctive curved design and eye-catching metallic exterior. Developed by Amias Real Estate, on behalf of the Saudi holding company Assila Investment Co., and designed by Saudi architect firm Mohamad Harasani Architects, the project is on track to be finished by September 2014. [[banner]] The tallest of the two towers, 23 storeys tall, will hold 197 hotel rooms, mainly suites, operated by Rocco Forte Hotels, while the smaller, rising 17 storeys, will contain mainly serviced apartments. The project is being built by the Saudi contracting firm Al Sd General Contracting, responsible for construction works and fit-out, and when Construction Week visited in May the structural works on the two towers had been completed, MEP was largely done, and workers were busy installing the walling system supplied by Gyproc. Project manager Adel M. Al-Sherbini said that Al Sd - which has completed a number of major buildings in Jeddah, including the Red Sea Mall and a municipality office building - has been working on the Assila Tower project since 2010. The total contract value of the project, including the substructure, is around $133 million (SAR 500m). Drake & Scull International (DSI) signed a $38m contract to provide turnkey mechanical electrical and plumbing (MEP) services for the towers. The first phase of the project comprised the excavation and shoring works, dewatering and construction of three underground basements, and in June 2011 work on the superstructure began, part of a second package. Overall project completion stands at about 40%. Situated on the corner of busy Tahlia Street, with construction of a major mall - the Galleria Commercial Centre - occurring across the road, and buttressed by residences and a shopping centre at the side and rear, there is a little extra room for movement on the site. Indeed, the Galleria construction site is so close that the twin tower cranes on the Assila towers could conceivably used for lifts on the site across the road, and Al-Sherbini jokes about renting cranes capacity to the other site. More practically, it has required both construction sites to coordinate with one another about the height and the climbing of the cranes, to ensure there is no chance of a clash. It is a good illustration of the restricted conditions the site faces. Tahlia Street is one of the most high-profile and expensive areas in Jeddah, and there is no site access from Tahlia, only from the back side on two small streets. Al-Sherbini says planning and logistics have been essential, and they have followed their mobilisation plan from the outset. Article continues on next page ... [[page-break]] To facilitate access, half of the width of a road along the back of the site has been used to provide space for the site offices and a logistics area where material can be loaded and hoisted by the tower crane onto the building site. Al-Sd has also had to contend with traffic restrictions. It was the first phase of the project was the most challenging, with virtually the entire 8,714m[sup. site footprint excavated, with a huge volume of concrete needing to be poured for the raft foundations - some 18,000m3. Raft foundations were selected for the soft limestone ground conditions, common in Jeddah. "It was very difficult to have more than 2500m[sup. [of concrete] in each pour, because of the traffic restrictions," explains Al-Sherbini. The solution was to begin pouring at 10pm on Thursday evening, and continue pouring until midday on Friday, times where there was no traffic in the area. The total number of transit mixers was up to 65 trucks per pour. [[banner]] "Can you imagine having the 15 transit mixers in the surroundings streets and the two mobile concrete pumps? It was a big challenge," he says. Due to the restrictions the raft foundation was divided into smaller strip sections. In the middle of the week they were able to pour around 700m[sup., making up to 3000m[sup. per weekl. In total, pouring of the raft foundations took 2.5 months. Once the basement was completed, work on the site became considerably simpler. "When we reached to the first floor, we installed the concrete pump stations and placing booms, and it was very easier." In total, around 50,000m 3 of concrete have been poured from the foundation to completion of the superstructure. Currently there are some 525 workers on the site, but this expected to be increased to 1,500 during the busy finishing period, starting in around three months' time. "This will be the big period of the project," says Al-Sherbini, "When we have everyone on the board, all the subcontractors, all the finishing works." Al-Sd is contracted for the fit out, and subcontractors Mitsubishi will install the conveying systems, while a local aluminium company will will install the aluminium curtain wall and glazing. including glass imported from Belgium. Still, says Al-Sherbin, he expects that the logistics of this phase will pale in comparison with the foundation works. The Assila Towers are just one of several new hotels being built in Jeddah, and part of a new wave of hotels that are expected to come into the market in 2014 or later. Other upscale hotel brands include the Dusit Thani which will overlook Obhur Creek, Park Inn by Radisson Madinah Road, and a Kempinski, It is part of a modernisation drive in the hotel sector in Jeddah, driven by insufficient quantities of high quality hotel rooms. Dr Arch. Hadi H. Kobeissy, general manager at Medad Project Management (MPC), a Jeddah-based project management company specialising in hospitality, says that in Jeddah there are shortages of hotels catering to tourists and business visitors, as well as furnished apartments, while the quality of the services that are currently available varies. "The whole sector of hospitality is undergoing upgrading for quality and grading by the governmental sector and leading private operators, [both] local and international." And as newer hotels are completed, there will be more pressure on the existing hotels catering to business and leisure visitors to improve. "The importance of service and quality is growing, which will create a complete shift in the existing hotels, the developers may need to refurbish, renovate and improve the operation and quality of service in the near future." Article continues on next page ... [[page-break]] A city of leisure In 2012, Jeddah was one of the best performing hotel market in the Middle East, with an occupancy rate of 80%, a trend that has continued into 2013. "In 2013, Jeddah Hotel Occupancy for the international quality hotel sample could reach if not exceed 80% with an ADR of SAR 850," says Chiheb Ben Mahmoud, head of hotel advisory, Middle East & Africa at Jones Lang LaSalle. Nevertheless, despite the high room rates, in the last three years there have been no major supply additions to the market, and Mahmoud says this is due to uncertainties in the leisure market. [[banner]] "Jeddah hotels market is mainly leisure driven. It is one of the reasons why pace of new hotel development has been so far slow. The leisure hospitality sector being perceived more volatile than the business sector and the Hajj and Umrah related segment. The lack of availability of land, at economically feasible prices, is also a barrier." "Although several hotels projects have been planned, a large number remained at the project level and Jeddah, once the hospitality capital of Saudi Arabia has been shadowed by Riyadh." The sound of silence In the tendering for the drywall partitions for the project, one of the major considerations was sound isolation, with rigorous standards for a 5-star hotel. Gyrpoc was successful, and able to supply a solution with Rw57dB sound insulation between the hotel rooms, utilising a combination of a Gyproc metal stud walling system, Gyproc Quiet, an independent twin-frame separating wall designed to offer a very high level of acoustic performance, and high density plasterboard. "To reduce noise transmission via the external wall, in this case a curtain wall system, a separate lining was installed using Gyproc IWL, an insulated independent metal frame system with very good sound insulating properties," said Daniel Roehner, Gyproc's technical development manager for Saudi Arabia. The systems were also able to meet the additional requirement for 60 minutes fire resistance, particularly at upper floor levels, said Roehner. Project manager Adel M. Al-Sherbini said that one of the main advantages for the contractor on-site was the flexibility of the system, as well as its ease of installation. Internal design features, such as marble linings, grooved walls and wood panelling specified throughout the guest rooms, suites, lobbies and other areas of the hotel normally present a challenge, since they have to be supported by, or accommodated within, the drywall partitions, said Roehner. "The design of our metal frame systems means we can, however, adapt the specification to accommodate a range of different profiles and weights of lining, such as the heavy marble panels, whilst at the same time achieving the high levels of sound and fire resistance demanded by the client." "Other issues covered included integration of MEP systems within the partitioning systems, and how to effectively seal penetrations through acoustic and fire -rated systems to maintain their integrity - an important issue on heavily serviced sites such as Assila." 2013 ITP Business Publishing Ltd. All Rights Reserved. Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company