Construction update: $68m Binghatti Stars in Dubai Silicon Oasis
Binghatti is using vertical integration to avoid project disputes and delays for timely completion
Set against the backdrop of Dubai Silicon Oasis is a 16-storey residential building worth $68m (AED250m) called Binghatti Stars. The under-construction property is located in the first master-planned smart city in the UAE. It is one of 20 towers Binghatti Developers has either completed or is building in the government free zone. No developer owns more real estate in Silicon Oasis than Binghatti.
It is the vertical integration model that Binghatti follows that makes the project stand out. Osama Hellis, project manager of Granada European Construction (GEC), the main contractor on site, tells Construction Week that the arrangement helps mitigate delays and disputes and makes it easier to deliver projects and pay sub-contractors promptly.
“The main contractors and sub-contractors are all in-house, which makes it easier for us to complete projects on time, because we are working as one team,” he says. “We do not need to wait for payments for sub-contractors. I just speak to the people upstairs and we can quickly provide payment for our sub-contractors, and this makes us a bit [different].”
It also helps with the on-time delivery of projects – Hellis says the ability to quickly pump money down the supply chain has prevented delays. “We are doing everything in-house and this is what enables us to build in a much more efficient way. Payments do not take much time to release. In fact, we are releasing payments weekly, which does not happen very often in construction,” he adds.
While the majority of the firms involved in the Binghatti Stars project are in-house, subsidiaries of the developer still have to submit tenders for the project and follow normal procedures to ensure the business gets value for money. “GEC had to submit a tender for this project according to the normal procedures, and we do not compromise on the quality just because we are our own organisation,” Hellis emphasises.
Affordable, quality housing is what Binghatti wants to build for its Dubai Silicon Oasis real estate portfolio. Binghatti Stars is designed to capture what Hellis calls the “affordable luxury” segment of the market – end-users earning between approximately $4,000 (AED15,000) and $8,000 (AED30,000) per month.
The developer even agreed to double the budget for the procurement of finishing materials to ensure the building has a high-end aesthetic that can attract this target demographic.
Binghatti Stars also adheres to Dubai’s green building regulations. “This is a green building and we are completely compliant with the green building code, even for power saving and waste management. We only use power-saving LED lighting to increase the energy efficiency of the building, and more than 50% of the materials, such as steel and wood, come from recycled materials,” he says.
Materials reuse is part of Binghatti’s green building strategy, which it employs across its portfolio of projects. A modular construction system to build the geometric patterns of Binghatti Stars allowed all of the aluminium and plywood shuttering to be reused, not just for different floors of the building, but across Binghatti’s other projects located nearby. Moreover, the tiles on the terraced roof and the white paint for the façade have both been designed to reflect sunlight and minimise strain on cooling systems. The façade has also been designed so that it provides shading.
“We have increased the quality standards of our buildings significantly from the first buildings to the ones we build today,” says Hellis. “We are focused on developing affordable and luxurious projects.”
In terms of layout, Binghatti Stars boasts 274 studio apartments, 44 one-bedroom flats, 55 two-bed units, and six retail outlets located on the ground floor. It will also have a temperature-controlled swimming pool and hot tub, a rooftop garden, a gym, and a children’s play area. Construction began in August 2017 and the property is scheduled for completion before the end of 2018.
“We are now focused on the structural elements of the building and hope to have it completed [this year],” says Hellis. “We are engaged in lots of different works at the moment, including concrete work, block work, plastering, and painting. We are also preparing for the finishes of gypsum, wood, and ceramic, and we are on track for all of that.”
While work remains on track, the project has encountered issues that gave Hellis a headache. “We have a challenge here because we are surrounded by buildings and we do not have sufficient space to store all of the materials we need for the construction,” he says.
“But we found a way around this – we have hired a temporary storage area for materials and we have trips for materials deliveries done in such a way as to minimise traffic disruption because we are located on the main street. When it comes to noise, we [obey] the requirements set by the Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority – we work from 7am to 7pm to not disturb the neighbourhood. We also do not work at the weekend. And this is a challenge, because we are delivering the project on time.”
Binghatti Stars is surrounded on three sides by real estate, which creates a logistical issue for concrete pouring as there is no space for the machine adjacent to the property. To tackle this, Binghatti placed two concrete pumps inside the property and built around them. After each 2,300m² concrete slab is cast, the tower boom pumps are extended higher. When all 16 floors are finished, a 400-tonne mobile crane will lift the two concrete pumps out of the building.
Such a logistically challenging undertaking has not fazed Hellis, however. In fact, the number of floors has even been increased from the original 10 due to customer demand. While the work is tricky, Hellis says GEC continues to complete one floor per week, averaging four floors a month.
The final question for Hellis is a simple one: where does the name Binghatti Stars come from? The property gets its name, he explains, from the angular concrete starburst patterns that are clearly visible when looking up at the building’s façade from the ground. Like all of Binghatti’s buildings, the façade is white and orange to represent sunrise and sunset. By the end of the year, Binghatti Developers hopes a new star will be born in Dubai’s Silicon Oasis.