First modular mosque in Abu Dhabi slashes costs

Precast Unicon system saves 50% in construction time and 15% in cost

The Abu Dhabi is the maiden project for Jordahl-H-Bau UAE, in conjunction with Square General Contracting.
The Abu Dhabi is the maiden project for Jordahl-H-Bau UAE, in conjunction with Square General Contracting.

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A modular precast system that can save up to 50% in construction time and 15% in costs is being used for the first time in the region on a mosque project in Abu Dhabi.

Inventor and CEO of MUNITEC GmbH in Germany, Dr. Frank Prochiner, said that its Unicon system has licensed H-Bau Technik GmbH to distribute the product internationally. It has a branch in the UAE, called Jordahl/H-Bau UAE, which has engaged with five of the biggest local precast firms in order to build its presence in the market.

The mosque is the maiden project it has embarked upon, “and might be followed by a 500-villa project”, according to Prochiner.  At the mosque, structural Powercon connectors are only being deployed, as the electrical connections here do not fall under the ambit of the precaster, while at the imminent villa development, both Enercon and Aquacon connectors will be deployed.

The precast elements for the mosque were manufactured at the precast division of Square General Contracting of Abu Dhabi. Commenting on the uptake of the new system, Dr. Prochiner says: “It is very early to speak about, because this is our first project in the UAE.

“However, there has been a great deal of interest expressed by both investors and precasters. If we use Unicon as a structural connecting system, we might save up to 15% in total and about 50% in time. By using all Unicon components for MEP in the proper way, the savings might be more than 20%.”

Looking at its latest developments, Dr. Prochiner says the company has begun taking steps to introduce the system to Saudi Arabia.

"Therefore we developed this mobile field-factory concept, which we will be presenting at The Big 5 this year," he said.

“In Saudi Arabia, projects are big, so it makes sense to move the factory close to the site, saving on transportation costs and the major investment needed for stationary factories, which are mostly calculated to be efficient only after 20 years or more.

“So our patented field-factory concept actually combines the advantages of industrial precast production and being very close to the site. More than that, this is the only concept that makes wall or ceiling production as simple as possible.

“The investment for this kind of factory is 20% less compared to traditional precast plants, and the good thing is you are able to move the whole factory in a few days to another place,” said Dr. Prochiner.

Apart from the potential offered by the Kingdom, he adds: “Countries like Qatar, Iraq, Egypt and other MENA areas are very interesting as well, as our system makes production and erection very simple.

“We sometimes compare it to the first assembly line of Henry Ford, which was very efficient and low-tech. My experience is that modern precast plants mostly get sucked into too-complicated machinery or equipment, or people are not able to use and maintain these systems in the right way. So it is better to keep things simple.”

Read the full article in the next issue of Construction Week magazine.

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