Site visit: Plot 50, Lusail City, Qatar

The first green building due to open in Qatar’s Lusail City, ‘Plot 50’ is aiming for top sustainability ratings. Kim Kemp reports.

Developers say they want the project to be a beacon of sustainability in Qatar, with only minor changes required over time.
Developers say they want the project to be a beacon of sustainability in Qatar, with only minor changes required over time.

Within the futuristic environment of Lusail City’s Marina District, Arab Engineering Bureau (AEB) has a development simply known as ‘Plot 50’.

It’s an inconspicuous name for an ambitious project, as this is the first to be designed, constructed and completed in Lusail City with a goal of five-star status under the stringent Global Sustainability Assessment System (GSAS) in mind. Lusail City itself is the first mega-project in Qatar to stipulate a GSAS two-star entry level as a minimum requirement for any development within its precinct.

Each development within Lusail City has one overarching priority – and that is to stand out from its neighbours, to be seen as a landmark within the city.

Driving through the area is evidence of how this is being implemented, by the variety of silhouettes that each astounding building creates.

Plot 50 is a commercial tower with offices and retail space. The main contractor on the project is Redco Construction Almana.

Ronald Alia Obordo, project manager, AEB explained that the project started in April, 2013 and was due for completion February 2015 but minor delays had pushed that back. He says the project is now 90% complete.

“We are waiting on some minor deliverables, like the final paint, some areas of the external aluminium cladding from local supplier, Alumana Industries and completion of some of the landscaping areas.”

GSAS has very specific criteria attached to the different rankings, with five-star being the highest. In compliance with green building requirements, aluminium has been used throughout the structure, from door frames to window frames and the low maintenance cladding, all part of five-star GSAS criteria.

The criteria will be reviewed along with the other measures by the specialist GSAS team from AEB.

Vladimir Slavcic, senior site architect for AEB explains the design concept of the development: “It is evident that we have a Qatari influence in a very high-tech building.

“The mashrabiya lattice work covers some of the windows, as it pays tribute to its Arabic origins and local identity, and I think AEB is a pioneer in promoting this design concept. We are not making glass cubes, we always make a point of keeping the local identity.

“Important to the project design is the vast glass expanse with the highest UV protection, which will contribute to huge energy saving in the future. The half recycled porcelain tiles are reflective of traditional buildings, connecting to natural stone, different granites and also the colours of the desert.” The tiles cover an area of about 3,000m².

There are angled louvres across the windows, taking cognisance of the sun’s path, thereby reducing glare and heat inside, which impacts positively on air conditioning requirements. Also, in addition to basement parking, there are cost-saving above ground parking garages.

Slavcic highlights the windswept, sand-driven environment and points out that maintenance will always be an issue in Doha. However, he says wryly, “It should never be so high to maintain that it becomes a project in itself!”

The building has a German-made roof-top maintenance/window cleaning unit with a boom that rotates 360?, affording access to every section of the outside of the building.

Built with sustainability in mind, Slavcic explains that savings are also made in the retail section of the building.

“The building has substantial rentable space, with reduced service areas [kitchens, corridors and toilet areas] affording greater floor space to the tenants,” he said.

The rental areas are user-defined and specified and outfitted without charge.

“The tenant can select the concept and how it must be finished. We give them basic, standard connections and they can design to their liking,” added Slavic.

The city of Lusail will employ the latest information technology comprising both wired and wireless communication networks to offer advanced services to everyone. From a centralised command and control centre all the services from communication and surveillance to observation will be monitored. Utilities such as traffic lights will be supervised and phased, easing traffic flow at peak times.

There is a central pneumatic waste collection system as the entire Lusail project is compliant with the Go-green concept, separating organic and non-organic materials, making it easier for recycling. All the buildings are connected to the waste system. Plot 50 also has solar powered components that, while low by some standards, contributing to about 5% of energy consumption overall, nevertheless goes towards the GSAS rating. Obordo explains: “We have two types of solar panels in the building. The mechanical solar panel, which is roughly between three and 5% energy saving from the total power consumption and is only intended for generation of hot water, and the photovoltaic solar panel. The latter is used for lighting, power and air conditioning, since this is directly hooked up to one of the medium voltage (MV) panels. This contributes to about 1% energy saving from the total and full power consumption.”

Slavcic explains that the design of the building was coordinated by the AEB design team, specifically Ibrahim Jaidah and Frederick Dasas.

He concurs that ideally the purpose of a green building is to conserve resources and save the environment, but emphasises that it is too soon to speculate on the building’s savings: “In Doha, a green building is a new concept, and there is a big difference between theory and practice, so, while savings will be made in the future, for conservation of energy or for the environment, we cannot gauge that now as it is not in practice yet; we don’t have a record of savings, we will only be able to judge true savings once time has passed.”

“We want to be the beacon of sustainability in Qatar,” says Slavcic and adds that because the building is so far ahead technologically, the time between its completion and 2020, when Lusail City is due to be completed, minimal upgrades will be necessary: “Our technology level right now is way in advance of present requirements, with built-in capabilities to expand/advance it further down the line, should it be required.

“Of course, static items such as materials can be changed later. We have applied the highest quality materials and all are recyclable now, and will be in the future. It’s all about sustainability. We have already considered the adaptability of the building for 10 years down the line,” Slavic added.

Some of the materials are obtained regionally, anything up to 25%, dependent on product, which benefits the Gulf region by way of trade and supports sustainability, while adding to GSAS points for the building.

Unlike a number of projects that have experienced the spectre of materials shortages, during its construction Obordo says that structurally there were no shortages: “We didn’t experience any shortages as the concrete was locally sourced in Qatar where we have a number of concrete plants.

“The only thing in which we had a slight delay in the delivery, but not a shortage, was sand imported from Saudi Arabia that had to come by road.

“It’s a case of supply and demand. Even though there was a scarcity of supply, I cannot consider it a shortage, it was definitely a case of a bottleneck.”

Nevertheless, Obordo concedes that there has been improvement from the government over the past five years in this regard: “They are addressing all of these issues and listening to what the industry is saying, from the private sector especially.

“Laws are being revised and some regulations are easing up,” he points out.

Like all the other buildings in the precinct, until it is connected to the Lusail City power and services grid, the development will continue to run on temporary power and be serviced by water tankers.

Obordo believes that this is not a deterrent in any way to tenants and looks forward to seeing the five-star GSAS plaque on the building: “We will set the benchmark for sustainability,” he concludes with pride.

Project Description

Office building: Three basement + Ground floor + 22 floors for a total of 26 floors
Underground parking levels: Three basement
Office space: 18 floors, 70 offices
Floor space for retail: Ground floor + First floor
Covered area: 2,283m² (55% of the plot area)
Total built up area: 41,503m²
Total car parking available: 367

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