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U+A ready to capitalise on GCC shift to tourism, education

U+A was founded 12 years ago in Dubai and believes the emirate's shift towards tourism and education projects presents an opportunity for business growth

U+A's projects include Deyaar Midtown.
U+A's projects include Deyaar Midtown.

U+A believes it can capitalise on a shift in focus to education, leisure, and tourism projects in the GCC.

Founded 12 years ago in Dubai by chartered architects Pedram Rad and Pierre Martin Dufresne, U+A prides itself on delivering the highest quality design through its expert in-house teams that deliver on time and within budget.

With both founders boasting a combined 30-year experience, U+A has, since its inception, worked with developers throughout the Middle East on projects in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and the wider GCC.

In the region today, the group believes there has been a shift in focus to educational, leisure and tourism projects, with more attention given to villa projects as developers look for “every possible option for competitive pricing”.

With this in mind, U+A has designed the Middle East’s first low energy building in the education sector, the Swiss International Scientific School in Dubai (SISD). U+A proudly points out that by consuming one third of the energy consumed by standard buildings, SSID has earned the Swiss MINERGIE Certification – the Swiss standard for comfort, efficiency, and value preservation. Phase 3 of the project has been finished with middle/high school auditorium, library and boarding houses are completed.

 Another exciting project in the group’s portfolio is the Deyaar Midtown project, located at Dubai production city in Dubai’s growth corridor. U+A describes it as a “signature development by Deyaar”, spread over 460,000m2 and resting along a landscaped piazza.

“Ranging from six to sixteen floors, the residential buildings overlook a green courtyard while offering panoramic views of the Dubai skyline and Jumeirah golf estates,” the firm explains. “The project is progressing fast and will be delivered on time in line with the developer’s project delivery schedule.”

Located in the heart of the Dubai’s Business Bay, Marasi Floating Villas is another jewel in U+A’s current portfolio. Boasting panoramic views of the Dubai Canal, the water homes – offered in two-, three-, and four-bedroom versions – are a first for the region. 

“The concept of Marasi Floating Homes brings a new and iconic way of waterfront living to the heart of Business Bay,” the firm explains. “The homes sit on floating pontoons, which are anchored to the canal bed and positioned to allow for unique panoramic views of Dubai Canal and the Dubai skyline.” 

According to U+A, construction is a  balancing game of time, cost and quality. Developers, the group points out, are competing on quality, affordability and upscale attractive facilities for buyers. U+A, in its design role, is a key player in this race by offering effective design that avoids area wastage and optimises space. 

“We recommend our partners to further fine-tune the design through mock-ups, which will give a better product concept to the stakeholders,” the firm says. “Our design team conduct reviews in all stages of construction to ensure that the project is running on track.”

Working hard to develop even the most minute details, this team collaborates with U+A’s contractors to ensure the highest standards of quality when the project is finally delivered. As such, the firm is rightly proud of its designs and “portray its projects in its own brand”.

“We understand the challenges in the execution and we overcome such challenges in the execution and we overcome such challenges through our team where we work beyond our traditional consultancy scope statements,” it adds. 

The group also adopts a unique approach to its contractors, giving the message to industry that regardless of allocated tiers U+A is able to deliver projects by guiding its contractors while always improving quality standards.

U+A adds: “Our team commence working with them closely from day one, providing details and operational requirements for each activity backed by a task launch meeting that provides clarity for everyone from the operations team to the foreman level.”

The group also goes one step further, working with labour to better understand the execution challenges and find better solutions. It also sets quality standards and follows up through various QA/QC procedures.

U+A’s site supervision team has also blended expertise and experience, combining micro specialists for various functions to help the firm meet a range of supervisory challenges.

Using the latest software for site inspections, these on-site teams have improved efficiency by optimising resources. They now manage 16 diversified projects – covering luxury hotels, offices, luxury villas, international schools, convention centers, stacked town houses, and mall refurbishment projects. Many other projects are also under discussion and finalisation across multiple markets. 

Looking ahead, U+A believes the Middle Eastern construction market will be the primary beneficiary of the government’s strategy to diversify its economy beyond oil. The UAE’s new visa rules, the group adds, will also boost the sector along with the Expo 2020 Dubai projects. 

“We have found great opportunities in the challenging market which fueled our growth,” the firm concludes. “The past two years our business strategy supported us and added another 100-plus new talents in our organisation. We have added value to the industry and our clients have recognised our expertise. We are getting repeated business from our client line which reinforces our trust on our markets and our clients.” 

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Construction Week - Issue 758
Feb 08, 2020