Site visit: One Palm, Dubai

Construction Week tours the construction site of One Palm, a 84,500m2 cantilevered luxury development being built by Omniyat and Multiplex on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah

Site Visits, Dubai, Dubai projects, Luxury development, Omniyat, One Palm, Residential, Site visit, The Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah has seen its fair share of elaborate projects. Developments on the island are known to consistently push the boundaries of architecture and design, adding to the exclusivity of what is one of the world’s most complex stretches of man-made land.

Dubai-based developer Omniyat is adding to this high-profile waterfront with the intricately designed One Palm, a residential project located on the southern tip of Palm Jumeirah’s trunk. The development made global headlines last year when one of its penthouses sold for a record-breaking $27.8m (AED102m), making it the most expensive penthouse in Dubai at the time.

Ground was broken for the 100m-tall One Palm in 2016, and the 84,541m2 development will be the tallest residential structure on the Palm. The development topped out in September 2017, and 60% completion has been recorded on the project, for which Multiplex is the main contractor.

Development director at Omniyat, Peter Stevenson, says the project is on track to be delivered by Q4 2018. He tells Construction Week that the project features 94 “ultra-luxury apartments”, adding: “We have three penthouses and 91 residences in the building.

“We have finished structural works for the project and are now working through the façade and finishes systems. Essentially, we are ‘rolling up’ the building,” he continues. 

One Palm features three-, four-, and five-bedroom apartments, in addition to three penthouses. The residential space for the three-bedroom units can range from 280m2 to 465m2, while the largest penthouse spans almost 3,000m2.

The project’s amenities will include a spa; indoor and outdoor cinemas; a fitness centre; a business centre; a library; meeting rooms; and three pools, one of which will measure 800m2. Two basement levels with almost 500 car park spaces are being developed as well.

The project will also feature a private beach, a yacht club, and a private jetty, in an effort to capitalise on the property’s waterfront location. 

Omniyat recently announced that One Palm is to be the first residential development in the Middle East to be managed by the luxury hospitality brand Dorchester Collection. 

 “We have teamed up with Dorchester from London, which will be providing the management services for the building, as well as the ‘à la carte’ services to all residents,” Stevenson says.

Designed by New York architect Soma, the building’s exterior reveals a complex scheme of varyingly stacked apartments, arranged something like a Jenga puzzle. The interiors, meanwhile, were designed by Japanese firm Super Potato and London-based Elicyon.

Super Potato’s president, Takashi Sugimoto, says that in delivering One Palm’s design, the firm was inspired by materials found in ancient Japanese architecture and tea rooms. According to Omniyat’s literature, Sugimoto says “the original inspiration for One Palm comes from the use of stone, wood, metal, and glass, to give the feeling of living in the air and amongst nature”. 

Landscaping that will complement the development’s water- and air-inspired design was carried out by Vladimir Djurovic, a Lebanon-based landscape architecture firm.

Stevenson says the building’s cantilevered design posed minor engineering challenges, as did its formwork system requirements: “On this project, the external spaces are as large as the internal spaces, which is [unusual for this type of development]. 

“Every high-rise has its hitches, but this site is no different to any other,” he says. 

However, the fact that each apartment within the development has its own design sets One Palm apart from other projects that Omniyat has developed. 

“It isn’t like a typical high-rise building, where you have apartments stacked [directly] on top of one another, with consistent layout, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing, and façade designs,” Stevenson explains. 

The details of the architecture “have created challenges that have kept the engineering team on its toes”, he says.

In addition to the international team of architects and interior designers that are involved with the project, customers are also playing a significant role in how the project is being designed, Stevenson adds: “Customers typically have specific requests, and we have made modifications throughout the building process to accommodate these.” 

For instance, One Palm’s construction scheme had to be adjusted at a late stage last year to accommodate one buyer’s request for a 25m swimming pool to be included on the roof of their penthouse. The pool was developed as the topping-out process proceeded. 

Stevenson concedes that these types of customer requests have played a part in One Palm’s original delivery date of March 2018 being pushed back to later this year. And the project team has also had to contend with other unexpected challenges, including Omniyat’s purchase of former joint-venture partner Drake & Scull International’s stake in the development, which was finalised in March 2017. 

In addition, a minor fire occurred at the One Palm site in October 2017. Fortunately, however, the fire was able to be quickly contained, so it caused “no setbacks or delays”, according to Stevenson.

He adds that the developer chose to view the incorporation of customers’ design-related requests not as a challenge, but as an opportunity. While the penthouse layout and some designs for outdoor landscaping elements had to be amended, for instance, Stevenson describes the process as “pushing the boundaries of architecture”. 

“Omniyat likes to push the design curve, but livability and the functionality of the space are also extremely important,” he says. 

“Our clientele represents the top of the market, so they are discerning buyers and end-users. It’s quite normal to have a detailed process when working with this type of customer,” he says. 

The building’s construction has progressed alongside Omniyat’s sales activities, and although Stevenson remains tight-lipped about the details of the project’s sales performance, he does confirm that the developer is “very happy” with the results.

Despite the rising demand for mid-market developments in Dubai, Omniyat has found that interest in luxury developments such as One Palm remains strong, according to Stevenson. 

“The property market is always fluid and dynamic, but the [luxury] end-user segment is still rather strong,” he says. 

Since Omniyat is targeting a specific type of end-user for One Palm – an affluent customer that is looking for space, a good location, and sea-front views – Stevenson says creating exclusive concepts for each client is the key to success. 

“We use the term ‘villas in the sky’ for this project, because we are effectively creating this property in the air,” he concludes.

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