Boundary Pusher

The UAE’s construction boom led to the development of pioneering technologies

The fast and gigantic development of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the first decade of the new millennium made a positive impact not only on those directly involved, but on the entire world. An army of people were facing challenging projects and had access to innovative construction technologies, pioneering methods for creating manmade islands and equipment used for extraordinary building services.

At the slowdown of the construction and development of the Middle East countries and the entire world, we are looking once again at the lessons learned and ask the question: “Is the UAE utilising and even exporting the experience it gained during the construction boom?”

In this context the meaning of the word ‘experience’ does not refer to the Burj Khalifa as the first tallest structure in history to include residential space. Neither does it refer to Capital Gate, a building in Abu Dhabi built to lean 18 degrees westwards – more than four times that the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The pursuant analysis uses the above mentioned and many other projects to highlight the new technologies created to achieve the vision of the local leaders; technologies that the world would appreciate and use as a stepping stone to move forward.

Burj Khalifa is certainly a success to start with. The world’s highest elevators are installed, situated inside a rod at the very top of the building. These elevators are the world’s fastest, created to travel 64 km/h or 18 m/sec. The highest vertical concrete pumping was invented and used for the making of Burj Khalifa, ejecting concrete up to 600m.

In addition, the engineers invented the buttressed core structural system; a core reinforced by three buttresses forming the ‘Y’ shape.

Other pioneers in reclaiming land from the sea and creating eco-friendly environments were Dutch construction firms who were carrying out engineering work on the Palm Jumeirah. Their technology of churning out the bottom of the sea some 90 million cubic metres of sand is just a stepping stone to more advanced technologies in the future.

The use of the pre-cambered core was not known to the world until this innovative construction technique was implemented in the Capital Gate tower in Abu Dhabi. 15,000 cubic metres of concrete, reinforced with 10,000 tonnes of steel were installed in the building core.

What happened in the Emirates doesn’t just stay in the Emirates. The new standards set in construction and the new inventions in the technology, the new materials created, the lifestyle, the new developments introduced and the embellishment of the desert by the sophisticated landscaping and the recycled waters for irrigation are just the beginning of the new era in design and engineering.

Is the UAE benefiting from its latest investments? I believe it certainly is, and the results will be visible in the years to come.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi in particular will remain the cradle of the inventions and the gate to sophisticated development in the construction industry in the new millennium.

Georgina Chakar is an Australian architect and a Master of Urban Planning. She works in Abu Dhabi