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Onsite: Aldar's Mamsha Al Saadiyat beach homes in Abu Dhabi

CW reviews building progress on Aldar Properties' 461-home luxury development, spanning 1.4km on Saadiyat Island

Aldar's Mamsha Al Saadiyat stretches for 1.4km along the beach.
© ITP Media Group / Ajith Narendra
Aldar's Mamsha Al Saadiyat stretches for 1.4km along the beach.

Located on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island along a 1.4km-long stretch of beach overlooking the Arabian Gulf, the Mamsha Al Saadiyat development is one of the latest under-construction residential offerings from Aldar Properties.

Originally unveiled in 2014 by Abu Dhabi master developer, Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Mamsha Al Saadiyat – meaning ‘Saadiyat Walk’ – is comprised of three plots, featuring 461 luxury homes in total, and a number of retail and food and beverage outlets.

Just under four years on from its original launch, the project was acquired by Abu Dhabi-based development giant Aldar Properties in May 2018, as part of a wider deal by Aldar to acquire $1bn (AED3.7bn) worth of real estate assets from the state-owned TDIC.

During a visit to the site at the start of 2019, executive director for commercial at Aldar Properties, Maan Al Awlaqi, tells Construction Week: “One of Mamsha’s greatest assets is its location on Saadiyat Island – some of the most prime land in the whole emirate, and our cultural and educational destination.”

Aldar has dismantled nine of the 14 cranes erected for Mamsha [© ITP / Ajith Narendra].

He continues: “All properties at Mamsha enjoy direct beach access, close proximity to world-class museums, and a variety of premium amenities, including gymnasiums, swimming pools, landscaped gardens, a beach promenade, children’s playgrounds, and walking and cycling paths.”

Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island is already home to a host of high-end developments, including the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort & Spa, the Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, and the exclusive retail destination the Collection.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi, which officially opened in November 2017, can be found in the Saadiyat Island Cultural District, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi is also planned for Saadiyat Island following an agreement signed in July 2006 by the city of Abu Dhabi and the Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation.

Thanks to its scale and prominence in one of Abu Dhabi’s most sought-after locations, the Mamsha Al Saadiyat project has attracted interest from some of the leading names in the fields of design, engineering, and construction. Serving as the project’s architect of record is Dewan Architects + Engineers, which describes the project’s goal as being to “create a memorable sense of place that captures the vitality of places like South Beach in Miami, and represents the character of the [Abu Dhabi] cultural district”.

As with most projects, testing and commissioning are always among the most challenging stages of the process. We are coming into that phase now.

In addition, global architecture, planning, and design company Callison RTKL serves as both the main consultant and lead designer for Mamsha Al Saadiyat. Arcadis, of which Callison RTKL is a subsidiary, is working as the development’s project manager and also serving as the lead consultant for Aldar’s representative team. Work on the development’s foundation was completed by the local Nael & Bin Harmal Hydroexpert, and included excavation, shoring, dewatering, and piling works.

As the development’s cost consultant, global property and construction consultancy Gleeds has four teams on site, working alongside Dewan, which itself currently has a construction supervision team of around 20 staff working on the project.

Mamsha's buildings are structurally complete [© ITP / Ajith Narendra].

“The [main construction] contract was awarded in mid-2016 to a joint venture consisting of Pivot Engineering & General Contracting, which represents 50% of the [joint venture], with the remaining 50% made up equally of San Jose Contracting (UAE branch) and San Jose Constructora (Spanish branch),” Al Awlaqi explains during the tour.

“The scope of the main contract is such that there are no more contracts due to be tendered or awarded on Mamsha, as far as construction is concerned,” he adds.

In July 2017, Mamsha Al Saadiyat’s original developer, TDIC, announced that all concrete groundwork for the project had been laid, with the structure for all of the buildings having been completed – a milestone in terms of the beachfront development’s construction.

Now, nearly two years on, construction is making “great progress”, says Al Awlaqi. “The building façades are now complete and podium façades are under way. Mechanical, electrical, and plumbing works are nearing completion, and internal finishes, including carpentry, are entering their final stages.

On the subject of the project’s funding, Al Awlaqi says: “Typically with our developments, they are funded through off-plan sales. Purchaser funds are placed in escrow, which cannot be touched until the developer has completed 20% of the development.”

In terms of priorities, being prepared for the authority inspections is certainly one. Snagging the apartments to the high levels of quality that we demand is another.

He continues: “Although there is an existing community on Saadiyat Island, we are fortunate with our location that logistics challenges are minimal, and we focus on ensuring the most efficient working practices possible.”

Good progress is being made on the development’s beach promenade, Al Awlaqi says, with “the finish line coming into view”. There will then be a period of inspections, checking the new buildings for minor faults that need to be rectified, before Aldar communicates with its customers about “the commencement of the handover process”, he explains.

The development giant is targeting the middle of 2019 to complete the project, and a total of 3,600 construction workers and 400 management staff are currently on site to ensure that this deadline is met.

“As we move closer to receiving the buildings in phases from the contractor, the number [of staff on site] is going to decrease. We are now at the peak in terms of on-site worker numbers.

“In terms of priorities, being prepared for the authority inspections is certainly one. Snagging the apartments to the high levels of quality that we demand is another. We want our customers to be more than satisfied with a very high-quality product.”

He adds: “As with most projects, testing and commissioning is always one of the most challenging stages of the process. We are coming into that phase now, [and will be testing key elements such as] the integration of the fire alarm system; the running of the chillers; the building management system; and the operation and balancing of the heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system.”

There are currently 3,600 construction workers on site [© ITP / Ajith Narendra].

As the project moves steadily towards completion, Al Awlaqi notes that a major project milestone that has recently been met was the removal of tower cranes from Mamsha Al Saadiyat’s first plot, known as Azure, in December 2018. Nine of the 14 cranes that were originally erected for Mamsha have been dismantled, he says.

“Another milestone was when we applied to Abu Dhabi Municipality for 85% construction completion in mid-December 2018. This allowed us to start the authority inspections. We duly received our first authority no objection certificate (NOC) from Etisalat in January.

The scope of the main contract is such that there are no more [construction] contracts due to be tendered or awarded on Mamsha.

“We are now liaising with Abu Dhabi Sewerage Services Company, the Department of Transport in Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Distribution Company, and the General Directorate of Civil Defence Abu Dhabi, among other authorities, for further NOCs that are required.”

Aldar obtained approval from Abu Dhabi Distribution Company and energised the two substations for the Azure plot at the end of December. This will ensure that “whenever the internal buildings are complete, we can turn permanent power on”, Al Awlaqi explains.

Looking ahead, he adds, the second plot substations are scheduled to be energised in March 2019.

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