Site visit: King’s College Hospital Dubai

King’s College Hospital Dubai, a $200m, 100-bed healthcare facility being built within the Dubai Hills Estate master development is set to meet its mid-2018 completion deadline

The hospital is a private project within the Dubai Hills Estate master development.
The hospital is a private project within the Dubai Hills Estate master development.

Dubai Hills Estate, once completed, will boast exclusive villa communities, luxurious hotels and serviced apartments, high-end retail shops, and landscaped parks and gardens, making up a series of neighbourhoods set around an 18-hole championship golf course.

At the moment, however, the 11-million-square-metre joint venture between Emaar Properties and Meraas Holding is a vast stretch of land playing host to heavy equipment and hard-hatted workers – their presence a testament to the different construction works being carried out in what is part of Phase 1 of the planned Mohammed bin Rashid (MBR) City.

Among the sites currently abuzz with activity is that of King’s College Hospital (KCH) Dubai. A private project, it is being developed by KCH Healthcare LLC, a partnership comprising Ashmore Group, Al Tayer Group, and KCH London.

Gesturing at the sandy plot surrounding the site, Alasdair Leven, senior project manager at Faithful+Gould, the consultancy firm overseeing the project, says: “[Dubai Hills Estate] may seem remote now, but once it’s established, it will prove to be an essential location in Dubai.”

Like the master development on which it is being built, KCH Dubai was starting to take shape, at 9% complete, when Construction Week visited the site in the second week of May, 2017. The first level-one slab had been cast just the day before the visit, while the full footprint of the project was completed back in April.

“The concrete frame is going to be built throughout summer. It should be done by October,” says Leven, adding: “The first finish will also be applied during summer, while the second finishes and major mechanical, electrical, and plumbing (MEP) equipment will mostly be installed after the summer months.”

Leven notes that construction got off to a quick start as there’s only a raft foundation, which is the ground floor of the main building, and no piles were used.

He elaborates: “We had our ground-breaking ceremony in November [2016]. During that time, the client awarded the pre-construction contract, and some levelling of the area, as well as the installation of the fence, were carried out.

“At the time, we were also finalising the main contract – a design-and-build contract that was awarded to Shapoorji Pallonji in December, which started construction in January of this year.”

But before construction could begin, Leven says that permits and approvals had to be acquired. These included permits from Dubai Municipality and Dubai Civil Defence. In addition to those, which are standard in construction projects, KCH Healthcare had to obtain an initial approval from Dubai Healthcare Authority (DHA).

He explains: “The initial approval is the first step; it means field design has been accepted by DHA. That probably took three or four months, because there was an injunction phase.

Requirements had to be discussed; the design had to be submitted and then returned to the team with comments; the comments then had to be adopted, the revised design submitted – so that took some time.

“We’ll have to go back later for final approvals, which I believe involves a visit from DHA to the site close to the completion of the project.”

A G+7, 100-bed hospital, the project is valued at $200m (AED734m), with a gross floor area (GFA) of 24,500m2 and a built-up area of 30,500m2. The footprint of the development covers the main building, which is divided into three zones.

Leven explains that the first zone is the tower, or the full-height building; while the second zone will go from the ground to the third floor. The third zone, meanwhile, will only comprise a single floor.

“A priority of the project is to get Zone 1, or the tower, built as fast as possible,” says Leven. He points out that speed, which is critical to meet the project’s target completion deadline of mid-2018 and to ensure the success of the project, has been made possible by the fact that the basement is separate from the main building.

He says: “Standard basement facilities, like the water tank and pump room, are on a separate subterranean block, outside the footprint of the main building. This has allowed us to start on the main building, and construct the basement in tandem.”

Explaining the significance of this approach, he continues: “If we’d decided on having the water services under the main building, we would have had to construct a basement, which would have meant digging down, constructing an extra level, and then coming back up. That would have meant delaying the construction of the ground floor.

“By moving the basement block out of the footprint, we could start quickly on the main building and work on the basement at the same time, rather than building one after the other.”

The whole intention behind the project, says Leven, is to keep construction as straightforward as possible, by adopting certain measures, including using standard reinforced concrete for the frame.

He adds: “Because this is a hospital, there are additional MEP considerations, such as medical gas systems, pneumatic tube systems, and nurse call systems. These things take time to install, so we’ve  reached an agreement with Shapoorji to get the concrete frame moving as fast as possible, which we’ve done so far.”

KCH Healthcare, says Leven, is planning to start implementing medical equipment in 11 months. Façade and cladding, meanwhile, will have to start earlier, in the last quarter of this year.

Despite this focus on speed, however, Leven stresses that quality remains top on the list of priorities, a particularly crucial factor when it comes to healthcare facilities. The hospital’s architecture reportedly adheres to Facility Guide Institute (FGI) 2014 standards, while MEP is designed to meet Health Technical Memorandum (HTM) guidelines.

Perkins+Will designed the project and was its lead consultant. The firm has been retained, notes Leven, as the design custodian. WME Consultants, meanwhile, started out as the engineering consultant, and will continue on as the project’s design consultant under Shapoorji Pallonji.

According to KCH Healthcare, the hospital is intended to be a centre of excellence for paediatrics, orthopaedics, endocrinology, and obstetrics and gynaecology. The company plans to leverage KCH London’s global reputation in these areas, and complement that with a facility equipped with advanced medical equipment and healthcare technologies.

The company also plans to staff the facility with “some of the UK’s leading physicians” and to introduce a visiting physician’s programme, featuring KCH’s top surgeons.

Although it is KCH’s flagship project in the UAE, KCH Dubai is not the first KCH project in the country.

“KCH has opened a clinic in Abu Dhabi and, in April, Faithful+Gould did the handover of a KCH clinic in Jumeirah. KCH is also developing another clinic in the Dubai Marina area, which is currently in the design concept stage,” says Leven.

He further notes that work on KCH Dubai will not necessarily end once it reaches completion in mid-2018.

“This project – the main building – is designed to be Phase 1. The client has the option to build a second phase, which would be an extension of this. An extension would basically take the hospital’s capacity from 100 beds to 180-200 beds,” says Leven, concluding: “That hasn’t been designed yet, but the project has been designed to allow for Phase 2, ensuring that if an extension were to be carried out, it would not cause massive disruption to what would, by then, be a live hospital.”

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