Home / Site visit: The Opus by Omniyat, Dubai

Site visit: The Opus by Omniyat, Dubai

by Jumana Abdel-Razzaq on May 6, 2017

The Opus resembles a melted ice cube, owing to its distinctive void.
The Opus resembles a melted ice cube, owing to its distinctive void.

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After almost a decade in development, The Opus by Omniyat has finally taken shape in Dubai. Designed by late architect Dame Zaha Hadid, the mixed-use project is rapidly approaching completion, and looks set to offer a striking addition to the emirate’s skyline.

Located in the heart of Dubai’s Business Bay area, the development consists of three components: commercial, residential, and hospitality. With an above-ground development area of 93,000m2, the building includes seven basement levels, a ground floor, and 22 storeys. It will offer a range of amenities, from hotel apartments to lavish offices, not to mention a five-star hotel. With a total built-up area of 186,000m2, on a 14,057m2 plot, The Opus will also feature an area dedicated to entertainment, and food and beverage (F&B) outlets.

As the project’s lead consultant, executive architect, and architect of record, Brewer Smith Brewer Group (BSBG) has been working on The Opus since 2008, when construction officially began. The UAE-based consultancy has more than three decades of experience working in the Middle East, and has had to leverage every bit of its expertise to support the delivery of this ambitious development.

BSBG is currently providing architecture and construction supervision services on The Opus, working in conjunction with the project’s main contractor, Multiplex, and developer, Omniyat. A close working relationship between the stakeholders has been vital in the realisation of Hadid’s vision, which is arguably one of the most fascinatingly designed buildings in the Gulf.
Multiplex worked on the shell and core of the building under a design-and-build (D&B) contract, completing work on its common areas, such as the lifts and lobbies. The Australia-headquartered contractor was also responsible for The Opus’s mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) delivery. Multiplex has installed connections up to office doors, while those taking units within the building will conduct MEP and fit-out works to fit their individual requirements.

According to Scott Orwin, director of BSBG, The Opus’s construction is on track and moving rapidly. As the project progresses towards completion, the consultancy is now in the process of finalising its work, after a challenging – yet rewarding – nine years.

While an official completion date has yet to be announced, Omniyat’s marketing materials state that The Opus will complete in 2017. Orwin and his colleagues are set to hand over the structure’s shell and core – as part of the D&B contract – by mid-2017.

The project is undoubtedly complicated compared to the majority of its conventional counterparts, but nine years is still a lengthy development period. So what led to The Opus’s delayed completion? Orwin says that a comprehensive redesign represented a major contributing factor. He explains: “There was a decision by the client to revise the design and interior functions during the construction process, which led to a lengthened overall duration.”

In terms of construction, Orwin says The Opus’s void – the space between its two main buildings – was the most challenging element to deliver. This distinct feature, which gives the project the distinctive shape of a melting ice cube, is 100m wide, 97m tall, and 67m deep. The bridge between the two buildings is 40m in length, and connects their 16th and 18th floors. “We used very economical ways to create this negative space,” recounts Orwin.

Owing to its amorphous design, The Opus’s façade also tested the construction team’s skills. Orwin elaborates: “The design of the glass exterior took a good 18 months to complete. The manufacturing of the glass itself [was an exceptionally] strenuous process, due to its curved nature in specific sections of the building. The internal form of the atrium will give The Opus a very distinctive character; you’ll be able to see this when you look from the office floors into the void and across the residential area,” he adds.

Cladding the void and installing the glass was a difficult process but, as Orwin points out, these works were conducted with a great deal of care and attention. The results, he says, are clear to see. The Opus’s glass features the latest ultra-violet (UV) coatings to reduce solar gain and glare within its spaces, while the shape and form of the main buildings were driven by Hadid’s design process.