My favourite building: Novotel Barsha complex

Safwat Ghali has worked on scores of hotel projects across the ME

ANALYSIS, Projects

This mixed-use complex may be the newest that the manager of Khatib & Alami’s architectural division, Safwat Ghaly, has completed, but he has given clear consideration to naming it as his favourite.

The three-tower structure on Sheikh Zayed Road is probably best-known to passers-by as the base of the new Novotel Al Barsha, which contains interesting vertical hanging gardens covering its podium levels.

“There are four main reasons why I chose this building,” Ghaly tells Construction Week.

“The first is it’s a good example of a mixed-use project because it has three different functions in three towers.”

The buildings share the same base, which contains parking, retail space and the hotel lobby and restaurant/café areas. However, one of the towers above contains the 450-bed Novotel hotel and serviced apartments.

The second is a residential tower with 201 bedrooms, while the third is an office tower with space for up to 170 offices. The total net lettable area for office space within the tower is around 21,250m2.

“Another reason why it’s my favourite is that each has its own access, with separate entrances and facilities, but they all stand together as one project,” he says. This was a tricky design problem to overcome, he adds, particularly as they have been delivered on a tight site – the complex has floorspace of 170,500m2 but sits on a 5,000m2 site.

The third reason for his choice is its location. It fronts Sheikh Zayed Road – “the most prominent in Dubai” – and is very close to the Sharaf DG Metro station and Mall of the Emirates.

Finally, he argues that the 167m-high towers have been designed with a convex element to maximise the peripheral length of the buildings. This means that 85% of the offices, and hotel and apartment rooms enjoy panoramic views overlooking Sheikh Zayed Road and, from the fourth floor upwards, the Arabian Gulf.

Safwat Ghaly, associate and manager of architectural division, Khatib & Alamy

Safwat Ghaly was born in Egypt and studied at the Assiut University’s Faculty of Engineering and Architecture.

In 1978 he moved to Kuwait and has worked in the Gulf ever since. He joined Khatib & Alami in 1990, starting as a senior architect and moving up to head of concept design before his appointment to his current role. He has specialised in the development of mixed-use projects but has worked on buildings in a variety of sectors including office, education and healthcare as well as carrying out designs for infrastructure projects.

“We have all of the disciplines under one roof,” he said. In recent years, Ghaly has completed a number of high-profile hospitality projects in Dubai, including the Fairmont Hotel and the Dusit Thani Hotel on Sheikh Zayed Road, as well as the Dubai Jewel Tower in the TECOM district and the 40-storey MAG 214 Tower at Jumeirah Lakes Towers.

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