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Site visit: Damac Heights

by Michael Fahy on Apr 12, 2014


The tower has ten levels of parking – five podium levels and five basement.
The tower has ten levels of parking – five podium levels and five basement.
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“I’m very excited,” Samer Skaik, senior projects manager at Damac Heights explains when he’s asked about how he feels being in charge of such a high-profile project.

“It is like your baby. You see it growing every day. When 2016 comes (the building’s completion date), I will tell my kids, this is your brother.”

Skaik, a Palestinian, is visibly enthusiastic about the project during his interview with Construction Week, and it is easy to see why. After all, there aren’t going to be many more super high-rise towers built overlooking the Arabian Gulf from Dubai Marina – simply because the plots are no longer available.

“You will not build such towers every day – maybe once or twice in your life,” he says.

This tower sits on a prominent site between the Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel and the distinctive twisting tower, formerly known as Infinity Tower but renamed as Cayan Tower by its Saudi developer on completion last year.

It has an intriguing design of its own, which was created by architects Aedas. The building curves from its base to tip, meaning there are no regular floorplates.

“When we started working on the concept design, there was a target that we wanted something different,” says Skaik. “We wanted to go away from typical floor schemes, so we tried to start with something that is tilting in two directions.”

This presents its own sets of difficulties in terms of construction, but these are not the only challenges it faces.

The first relates to its location. Overlooking the Arabian Gulf to the front and Dubai Marina immediately behind it means the building offers spectacular views, but it also means the water pressure on both sides of the site is high, especially as it has been excavated by 24m in order to fit in five basement floors.

“Whenever you are doing business in the Marina, it is very challenging. You have water from both sides – the ocean and the Marina itself.

“That’s why we took intensive care when we did the design and construction of the shoring system. You need to make sure you are independent in terms of water ingress.”

Digging down so deep on a site can present unforeseen issues, such as fissures, cracks and cavities in the ground. Skaik says that the shoring system created therefore needs to make sure that it is impermeable to any water leakage.

The shoring system used was a mix of secant piles and diaphragm walls, which Skaik says was the most reliable and water-tight method for such a deep excavation.

Ground anchors could not be used for the shoring walls at the marina side due to the proximity of the Marina’s lake as well as the huge water pressure behind the front and rear walls.

Therefore, temporary contiguous piles were built against the unanchored shoring walls and the sand filling in between was structurally sufficient to support them.

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