Park Life

Oliver Ephgrave visits Al Bateen Park, Aldar’s huge Emirati housing scheme which is nearing completion in the heart of Abu Dhabi

Less than three weeks before the first handover, Aldar’s whitewashed Al Bateen Park housing scheme is teeming with activity. While hard-hatted construction workers patrol the 100,000m2 scheme in Abu Dhabi, a meaty stack of construction drawings is piling up on the desks in the site office of architect Dewan.

“These are just the top priority drawings for today,” remarks Imad Sadiq, resident engineer for the UAE-based firm. “We have a busy few weeks ahead of us – we’re currently on the pre-snagging stage; the contractor has to address our comments before we move onto snagging.”

The huge residential project for Emirati nationals, in the affluent Al Bateen district, is divided into two parcels. The smaller plot, which covers 33,000m2 with nine blocks and 284 apartments, is due to be delivered at the end of August.

Meanwhile, the larger plot, covering 66,000m2, is pencilled for delivery at the end of September. It contains three blocks of apartments as well as 75 villas. Ten of these are six-bed super-luxury homes with their own private pools, while the remainder is made up of 25 four-bed townhouses and 40 four-bed villas.

An unusual feature of the site, and the scheme itself, is that it surrounds Al Bateen cemetery. According to Sadiq, this proved to be a challenge for the architects. “We are planting trees around the cemetery boundary. It will be a curtain through which you can’t see. It is a big challenge in dealing with the cemetery. More landscaping will be planted on it.”

Yann Pennes, projects director, Dewan, adds: “We created a visual continuity and urban feel all around the site, therefore the cemetery remains private.” He explains that a separate park adjoins the cemetery, which can be accessed by residents.

Another challenge, according to Sadiq, is the client’s tight timeframe. He elaborates: “A big challenge is the fast track and the large scale; the project duration was just 20 months.

“It was on hold for many years, then Dewan was asked to start from zero, but just adopt the initial concept. We started design in 2010.”

Sadiq explains that the main package is worth $538m, while the enabling package was $25m, both won by contractor Seidco. Dewan was appointed as lead consultant, following conceptual work by Serendipity. The MEP consultant is Ian Banham & Associates.

Described as an ‘Arabesque’ style on Aldar’s website, Pennes elaborates on the aesthetics. “We tried to create a more contemporary version of Arab buildings. We used a new type of mashrabiya screens and placed them in different areas.”

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