Home / Site visit: La Perle by Dragone, Al Habtoor City

Site visit: La Perle by Dragone, Al Habtoor City

by Jochebed Menon on Feb 25, 2017

Construction work on the theatre is nearing completion.
Construction work on the theatre is nearing completion.

Al Habtoor City will host the Middle East’s first permanent show, La Perle by Dragone, once it’s completed in mid-2017. The developers of this grandiose theatre have left no stone unturned in bringing a new era of entertainment to Dubai.

Located adjacent to W Dubai Al Habtoor City, La Perle is produced and created by Franco Dragone.

Dragone is known for his work with Celine Dion, Cirque du Soleil, and Macau’s The House of Dancing Water, which is touted as the world’s largest permanent water-based show.

At Al Habtoor City, the theatre director has created a 1,300-seat, purpose-built aqua theatre, which will be filled with 2.7 million litres of water.

Construction work on the La Perle complex began in 2012, Steven Dubuc, construction project manager at Dragone, tells Construction Week.

The complex is a G+6 structure with four basement levels, and houses a reception area, two VIP lounges, a gym, a laundry room, a dressing room, a canteen, a dance studio, a physiotherapy facility, changing rooms, shower rooms, and several offices, in addition to the main theatre.

HLG Contracting was appointed as the main contractor, along with Commodore Contracting for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) works, and Al Rawda Building Contracting for drywall and painting.

Butler Engineering has been contracted for the fire and safety works, while architecture firm, Khatib and Alami (K&A), has been working closely with Dragone Studios on the design of the theatre.

“We have divided the works into two sections: standard civil and electrical works, and theatrical specialised equipment (TSE) works. TSE contracts comprise of sound and lighting systems, aerial performer winches, and the motion-control system,” Dubuc says.

“The control, automation, and mechanical process works were awarded to UK-headquartered Stage Technologies,” he continues. “The audio and video machine work has been contracted to Montreal-based company, Solotech Inc, and the lighting contract has been awarded to Dubai-based Oasis Enterprises. The pool systems and water special effects work has been contracted to Spanish company, Ghesa Fountains.”

Although there haven’t been any significant delays, Dubuc does point out that, since the construction of a theatre is different from that of a regular building, there have been some challenges in the process.

He elaborates: “Building a theatre is a complex process; it is very different from other structures. The main contractor and a few of the sub-contractors don’t understand a lot of the processes and, as a theatre operator and builder, we have to constantly brief and explain why works are being carried out in a certain manner.”

Construction on the complex has been ongoing for the past three and a half years, Dubuc says. Due to geographical restrictions, work is progressing at a slower pace. “We are confined by the three hotels surrounding the complex, with extremely limited access. Getting the steel beams and trusses into position was an arduous process. It did take up a lot of time to get [to] the stage where we could progress with the rest of the construction.”

Given that the total area of the ground floor and lobby is 3,680m², working in a limited space has been a challenge for Dubuc and his team. “Its a very small space and there is a lot of equipment – not only the standard MEP material, but also the TSE, fibre-optic cables, data cables, power cables, power outlets, circuit breaker panels, and other infrastructure fittings. Getting all the personnel to understand the restrictions of working in that space has been quite a challenge.”