The construction of One Za’abeel, at the heart of Dubai adjacent to the World Trade Centre, is an ode to the city that has been pushing the boundaries of engineering to bring ambitious leadership visions into reality.
WSP, one of the leading engineering consultancy services firms in the world, has been working collaboratively with many stakeholders to realise this project. “Our role in One Za’abeel includes design and supervision services for geotechnical engineering, building structures, building services, specialist services, sustainability, vertical transportation, roads and infrastructure, in addition to being the Architect of Record,” says Dr. Mohamed Hegazy, the Senior Technical Director of WSP’s Middle East business, who is responsible for the delivery of the One Za’abeel development, leading the WSP and Nikken Sekkei integrated multi-disciplinary teams.
One Za’abeel is an addition to Dubai’s already impressive skyline, with the most iconic feature being ‘The Link’ structure which connects the two towers. The Link structure weighs over 23,000 tonnes after fit-outs, with its structural steel alone weighing more than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and is almost as long as the London Bridge at 230 meters. This iconic feature is an engineering marvel, in which all the challenges that have been overcome are testament to the engineering prowess of the WSP Middle East team.
The Link is designed to counter effects of twist and vertical deflection using a diagrid tube structure which also allows column-free space. All of these design considerations have been incorporated into the construction stage during the lifting of The Link bridge.
“The construction of The Link and lifting it to its current position is a case study for future engineering projects,” says Dr. Hegazy. “Linking the two vertical towers with a horizontal one posed a huge design challenge, especially when The Link rises 87 metres over a four-lane elevated highway, which connects Sheikh Rashid Road with the Dubai Financial Centre District. The Link was constructed in segments at the side of the elevated highway above the podium roof and was gradually slid using a bridge launching system. We then installed a strand jacking system at both towers using the towers to lift The Link into position, which is a feat in its own. We overcame the challenges through rigorous design and construction sequencing. Our innovative design tools and engineering solutions allowed us to determine the movement of the building, ensuring the continuation of construction in the towers and allowing The Link to come into place. Both towers were built on an off-camber position during the construction phase, and eventually after The Link was lifted and fully welded into position, the two towers were aligned into their originally designed positions. Over 600 sensors were installed throughout the towers and The Link during the lifting process to ensure safety and precision,” says Dr. Hegazy.
Another prominent feature of The Link is how its segments are connected to itself and to the two towers. “We have not used bolts to connect The Link. Instead, all of the steel elements are fully welded, with thickness varying up to 150mm, using a deep penetrated welding process to ensure the structure is fully bonded,” he adds.
Upon completion, The Link will have four floors, housing a 130-metre long infinity pool, Michelin-starred restaurants, entertainment experiences, a 360 degree viewing deck, and the world’s longest occupied cantilevered building.
The WSP Middle East team has been working closely with their global offices, and also liaising with over 30 consultants and local authorities, including the Dubai Municipality and the Roads and Transport Authority. Dr. Hegazy adds, “The authorities in Dubai have been extremely supportive and are working with us ahead of schedules for the successful delivery of this iconic project”.
Talking about safety, Dr. Hegazy says, “We have implemented innovative solutions for fire and life safety systems, means of egress, and overall safety strategies for guests and occupants of One Za’abeel. Furthermore, we have used high-end materials which provide the utmost level of safety and protection”.
WSP was also a key proponent for health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, ensuring world-class health and safety frameworks were applied in accordance with local authority guidelines and regulations. This helped maintain construction continuity as well as protect the wellbeing of everyone involved throughout the delivery of the project.
Keeping up with the highest global sustainability standards, Ithra Dubai embedded sustainability into the heart of One Za’abeel, which is also aligned with WSP’s global Strategic Action Plan for helping clients achieve net-zero carbon emissions. One Za’abeel, through its aspiration to achieve USGBC LEED Gold certification and implement sustainable practices, aims to use natural resources efficiently. This involves embracing key components such as Energy Efficiency, Water Efficiency, Health & Wellbeing, Amenities & Transportation, Operational Excellence, and Green Construction within the innovative design and construction of One Za’abeel.
“We have successfully exceeded the required points for the design phase, and we are currently working on the construction phase submission to complete the remaining points and achieve the LEED Gold certification for One Za’abeel,” says Dr. Hegazy.
One Za’abeel at a glance
One Za’abeel consists of two plots separated by an elevated four-lane highway
7 — Number of basements in each tower
4 — Number of podiums in each tower
67 — Number of floors in Tower A, a mixed use building with offices, luxury and ultra-luxury hotel components, and branded apartments
57 —Number of floors in Tower B, a residential tower
One and Only — The Operator of the luxury and ultra-luxury hotels at Tower A
9,400 tonnes — The weight of ‘The Link’ steel structure that connects the two towers
2 — Number of private electrical substations in each Tower
70 — Elevators within the development, including double-deckers and high-speed
Q3 2023 — Time when the development will be fully operational