Danat Al Emarat

CW visits the $191m Danat Al Emarat hospital project in Abu Dhabi

A rendering of the completed hospital.
A rendering of the completed hospital.

CW visits the $191m Danat Al Emarat hospital project in Abu Dhabi, where phase two is about to commence.

When the decision was taken by United Eastern Medical Services (UEMedical) to develop the UAE's first women and children’s hospital for in Abu Dhabi, the company envisioned something more than your average, clinical setting.

Designed to meet the gap in the market for women’s health and paediatric services, the highly-specialised $191million facility, Danat Al Emarat, was to be a flagship development, with state-of-the-art equipment and high-end finishes.

Making the project even more unique was the developer’s plan for a hotel environment within a hospital setting, for the most part, to make it more patient-friendly.

“The location was chosen specifically,” says UEMedical chairman Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa. “We wanted the hospital to cater for people living on Abu Dhabi island as well as those outside Abu Dhabi.

At the beginning we thought about using a local designer, but we decided that because this was to be a flagship project for UEMedical, we would need to use one of the top healthcare designers in the world.

“With it being a project for mainly women and children," he adds, "there was also a lot of hospitality experience required. Therefore we engaged Dallas-based architect HKS to develop a complete design based on its experience in both sectors. The firm is considered number two worldwide in healthcare and number one in hospitality.”

Taking into consideration future demand over the next five years, UEMedical has split the project into two phases.

The first phase, due for completion in 2013, will include construction of an 11-storey, 59m north tower and service block covering 48,000m2, providing 182 beds and general in-patient services, with a focus on maternity and delivery.

The second phase will involve construction of an 11-storey, 59m south tower, connected to the first by a bridge, providing out-patient care and with a smaller built up area of 22,000m2 and 58 beds.

Designed to cater for a rising number of patients, it will not be developed until the first tower has been in operation for three or four years.

With the first phase still in its very early stages, UEMedical has, as yet, only contracted a few companies to assist in the development.

So far, HKS is the project manager and architect, Engineering Consultants Group (ECG) is the lead consultant and DG Jones is the quantity surveyor.

In terms of construction, UEMedical appointed local contractor Al Ghurair Arabian Foundation Engineering to carry out the enabling works.

Now that excavation, shoring and dewatering are all complete, UEMedical has also appointed Terna from Greece to carry out the tower construction and build the service block.

The firm is currently mobilising on-site with a view to starting construction at the beginning of next month. The second tower will be opened to tender closer to the time of its construction.

“We received bids from a number of speciality contractors,” says Al Shorafa.

“We narrowed it down to a smaller list based on technical and financial aspects, which included a mix of both international and local firms.

Whilst there are local contractors with good capabilities and local knowledge,there are a lot of international firms hungry to develop projects in the UAE.”

As it happens, Terna came out the best based on UEMedical’s complete commercial evaluation, and will be overseeing the main construction package. Meanwhile, there will also be some specific hospital contracts awarded separately.

“Medical equipment supply and installation will be done through another contractor. This is currently in the tendering stage, but will be awarded around June or July.

Non-medical furniture is also out to tender, and currently at the evaluation stage, so hopefully we will award this in the next couple of months.”

A final contract due to be awarded is that for IT software supply and installation. This is a major contract, and hence, has been kept as a separate package.

In terms of architectural features, the project was not always designed to be a single tower. “Initially the facility was designed as a 21-floor tower,” says HKS project manager Rick Bryan. “Unfortunately due to the proximity of the airport, the government limited us to 10 floors, so we had to redesign it.”

Further, Bryan says it was also important to create a ‘destination facility’.

“Our design philosophy is to combine the feeling of a hotel and a hospital environment; to make it more patient-friendly and less institutionalised. That is the direction that HKS has been going over the last few years.

“There will be a lot of glass to allow natural light in, and to create a bright and inviting atmosphere. It also will also have very high-end finishes. The main entrance will be a three-level atrium with water features and high ceilings, and the patient rooms will be large to give them a homely feel.”

With just 22 months until completion, Terna (awarded a $120million single package for the construction of the first phase) is currently in talks with suppliers and major subcontractors to assist with the build.

Executives are focusing on the piling, waterproofing, concrete, steel, tower crane and MEP contracts, all of which are the most immeditately important, and which it expects to award within the next month.

“The civil works will be done by our company, but we are currently negotiating the key supplier contracts,” says Terna Abu Dhabi branch manager Philip Andriopoulos.

“We are also considering whether to do the MEP ourselves through our in-house MEP division, or whether to subcontract it out. We are negotiating with the major subcontractors to see if they can offer a competitive price.”

Given that this is the firm’s first hospital win in the UAE, it is important that construction runs smoothly.

“This is our first hospital project in the region; up until now we have mostly been doing buildings. We have done a lot of hospital projects in Greece and the Balkans. There we did 20 major hospital projects for both the public and private sectors.

“We need to do well on this project in order to win more hospital jobs here. It is our intention to focus on this sector, as it is a market which is booming, and where there will be much more work in the future. This is going to be a good project for us because it is so prestigious.”

Nonetheless, there are still going to be challenges. Far from your typical high-rise building, there are many important factors which must to be taken into consideration if the project is to meet international healthcare standards.

“The HVAC system is a big consideration,” says Al Shorafa.

“Being a hospital, and as per the international requirements for healthcare designs, some areas will have to have completely fresh air. Most buildings just recycle the air, but our building is based on a totally different system.

Of course, some public areas which do not require fresh air will have a normal system where air is recycled. But places like operating theatres and procedure rooms need to have a separate, dedicated HVAC system.”

Other elements to be thought about in advance include the types of fabrics and surfaces.

“The finishes are important; they have to be hospital-friendly. So they have to be able to be cleaned quickly and they have to minimise the spread of infection.

We cannot have small grooves in tiles, for example, as this will lead to germ build-up. The rules even go as far as to specify the types of curtain fabric you can use.”

In terms of additional compulsory standards, the hospital is also required to have a Pearl rating as per Abu Dhabi’s Estidama system.

According to Bryan, techniques which will be introduced to increase the energy efficiency of the building include use of tinted glass and screening to minimise the heat gain, as well as solar panels on top of the carpark sheds, and recycling wherever possible.

But far from simply meeting minimum standards, Al Shorafa says his firms has gone a step further in creating a luxurious and comfortable hospital environment.

Adapted to the needs of Middle Eastern women and families, it will include everything from butlers, nail technicians, beauticians and massage therapists, to VIP and royalty rooms with luxury dining areas for entire families who traditionally visit a woman after she gives birth.

Changing rooms and conveniently-placed entrance doors will also be among the highlights, in line with a global trend of focusing more on privacy in both in-patient and out-patient facilities.

Taking the pulse:
Healthy growth for United Eastern Medical Company

The Danat Al Emarat hospital is a development by United Eastern Medical Company. Upon completion, it will have a total built-up area of 86,482m2 and offer 240 beds, specifically for women and children.

The north tower is to be built first, and will provide services for in-patients, with a focus on labour and delivery. The south tower will be built a few years later, when demand requires it, and will be more focused on out-patient care. Each tower will divide its services/components by floor.

In the north tower, the basement will house all hospital support services, while the ground floor will include building entrances and retail areas, and the roof and upper roof floors will be dedicated for HVAC systems and cleaning equipment.

The patient suites, which will occupy floors one to ten, will also be split by floor. For example, the second floor will consist of radiology rooms and CT and MRI units, while the fifth floor will be dedicated to delivery rooms and C-section OR.

“This is just one of our projects. We have committed to providing a number of private healthcare initiatives in Abu Dhabi, based upon an analysis that looked for gaps in the market.

We have committed to meet all the guidelines of the Abu Dhabi government, the Abu Dhabi municipality, the Urban Planning Council, Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority, and obviously Abu Dhabi Health Authority itself," says UEMedical chairman Mohammed Al Shorafa.

Awarded and outstanding contracts

Architect: HKS (US)

Consultant: ECG

Quantity surveyor: DG Jones

Operator/FM firm: Parkway Health (Singapore)

North tower and service block

Contractor - enabling works: Al Ghurair Arabian Foundation Engineering

Main contractor: Terna (Greece)

MEP: TBC within next month

Concrete: TBC within next month

Steel: TBC within next month

Piling: TBC within next month

Tower cranes: TBC within next month

Waterproofing: TBC within next month

Cladding: TBC

Lighting: TBC

Interiors and finishes: all TBC

Medical equipment suply and installation: TBC June/July

Non-medical furniture: TBC within next two months

South tower and connecting bridge

All construction and supplier contracts: TBC in 3-4 years

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