This is how Kleindienst is building The Heart of Europe in Dubai
Bim, aerial photography, drones, and geotextiles deployed to engineer the floating megaproject, senior official reveals
Editor’s note: The Heart of Europe, the flagship project of Kleindienst Group in Dubai, has attracted much global attention since its launch around a decade ago. Engineering professionals have keenly observed the project’s development over the years, largely due to its offbeat design and the complexity of construction expertise it requires. So, how is The Heart of Europe being built, and what are some of the technologies and techniques that JK Bauen has used for the project? Zaidon Alnashie, project director at The Heart of Europe, explains the project’s engineering programme in this exclusive piece for Construction Week.
Artificial land construction and technology has developed over the past few decades, from relatively simple land reclamation projects to the building of entire islands. The Heart of Europe is an ambitious project on The World, Dubai, and as part of its design, developer Kleindienst Group is shaping an entire island in the form of a heart.
Upon completion, The Heart of Europe will attract countless holidaymakers, particularly couples looking for a romantic break or honeymoon. As part of the process of creating the space, and given the project’s offshore location around 4km from the main coastline of Dubai, we decided that it was most efficient to complete all pre-construction, construction, and marine work ourselves, through a subsidiary company JK Bauen. This gave us the advantage of being able to manage the entire process, but we also required specialist independent consultancy in certain areas.
While island shaping is currently more popular for aesthetics and the creation of exciting destinations, its future usage and importance should not be underestimated.
During the initial stages of the project planning, we found the use of technology particularly helpful, including building information modelling (Bim) for various construction processes across all six islands on The Heart of Europe, as well as aerial photography and drones that allowed us to define the exact layout of each area.
In order to comply with marine engineering and safety guidelines, we employed advanced techniques as recommended by the consultancy teams, while also introducing engineering ethics and sustainability right through from design to completion. Dubai Municipality has strict codes of practice, including health, safety, and environmental (HSE) regulations, that we follow across The Heart of Europe. HSE is particularly important to us, as there are more than 1,700 people working to construct each facet of The Heart of Europe.
There are a number of challenges to creating the correct shape and ensuring the longevity of the island. The ‘heart’ is formed by dredging sand into a heart shape, followed by the construction of a permanent, weather-proof marine quay and sea wall to keep the form intact. We have used regular marine-grade concrete and natural-blasted rock, which should evolve and integrate with the coastal ecosystems over time.
Our self-contained team faced a number of engineering tests, including the reclamation of land and subsequent vibro-compaction work. As part of the island build, we need to ensure that the sand is contained within marine walls to protect against erosion, as well as particularly movement through tidal processes. We are using a geotextile cloth on the inner side of the sea walls – the material is durable, and its pores are smaller than sand particles. It is therefore able to stop the migration of sand by forming barriers between the land and the sea.
HSE is particularly important to us, as there are more than 1,700 people working to construct each facet of The Heart of Europe.
The beachfronts and coastline between the heart-shaped marine quay and the sea wall are protected by the construction of rock toes. The use of natural rock provides structural reinforcement of banks and beaches against wave action.
The island’s shaping has a beneficial impact on the environment, and it beautifies the area with new beachfronts and coral reefs, which has the additional impact of enhancing marine life around the island. The Heart of Europe also follows a zero micro-plastic discharge policy – not only do the islands avoid the use of micro-plastics, but there are also filtration layers within the terrain that prevent leaching into the oceans.
The overall plan for the island is innovative in its design, integrating the world’s first luxury underwater living residence. There will be 78 Floating Seahorse Villas linked to the island complex, with bedrooms that look out directly into the ocean. These are planned as incredible areas for guests to stay, replete with their own coral gardens as well as access to the island with its restaurants, sunken lounges, infinity pools, and beaches. We are building what will hopefully become a one-of-a-kind holiday destination in Dubai.
The Floating Seahorses are connected to the heart-shaped island through specially designed walkways, constructed from a concrete base with wooden platforms. This provides durability and a minimum need for maintenance, while also ensuring the flooring matches the island theme.
We found the use of technology particularly helpful, including Bim for various construction processes across all six islands.
One of the most important aspects of The Heart of Europe is to ensure the island and its terrestrial and marine surroundings are sustainable. Through the harmonious integration of natural and man-made elements, the island provides a serene space with 300m of coastline.
With global sea level changes, projects incorporating marine walls and artificial land reclamation will become increasingly important for the protection of existing areas, and also to provide habitable areas to sustain growing populations in coastal regions. UN figures show that more than 40% of the global population lives within 100km of the coast. While island shaping is currently more popular for aesthetics and the creation of exciting destinations, its future usage and importance should not be underestimated.