Kuwait

The Avenues mall ... features the largest unsupported ETFE/steel dome in the GCC with a diameter of 70 m.

The Avenues mall ... features the largest unsupported ETFE/steel dome in the GCC with a diameter of 70 m.

New Avenues

It is the fourth expansion of the country’s favourite shopping destination and is meant to take visitor experience to the next level.

December 2017

The Avenues mall in Kuwait is huge; its sheer size can be gauged from the approximately 20,000 people it currently employs in more than 800 stores. What is more, this is expected to rise to 30,000 employees and 1,200 outlets after the opening of its Phase Four expansion next year.

The new expansion, which is currently under construction, is part of owner Mabanee’s (Al Rai Real Estate Company) efforts to further enrich the unique shopping and entertainment experience at The Avenues. Mabanee is collaborating with Pace, a leading regional consultant in architecture, planning and engineering, to construct the entire project.

Phase Four, which will offer a retail built-up area of over 130,000 sq m and a total leasable area of 100,000 sq m, culminates a series of expansions worth a total of KD265 million ($900 million) to date, bringing the total cost of The Avenues project to KD600 million ($2 billion).

Mabanee’s general manager Waleed Al Shurian comments: “The Avenues has established itself as one of Kuwait’s most prominent landmarks and has made a noticeable impact on the national economy.”

He says Phase Four will include expansions of existing districts that are highly popular, including Prestige, Grand Avenue and The Souk. New districts with modern and diverse concepts will be developed including two new hotels.

“The retail concepts of open streets – under a translucent roof – set new standards of contemporary building in the Arab world. The Avenues stands as a national symbol of growth and advancement towards the future. It has enhanced Kuwait’s economy by creating engineering and construction jobs for locals and expatriates in various industries, employed by local contractors, suppliers and manufacturers. It also provides employment for those in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors,” adds Al Shurian.

He says the construction of a project of this size and nature has required a highly skilled and significant workforce – reaching over 30,000 staff positions to date – ranging from architects and civil engineers to inspectors, craftsmen, labourers, and trainees from around the globe.

 

New project elements

Combining the visions of Mabanee and the project design consultant/supervisor (Pace and Gensler), the extension to The Avenues will offer new destinations that will include:

• The Grand Plaza, a new public square located at the end of Grand Avenue, inspired by civic squares around the world;

• Electra, which is set to become the place to go for high-tech enthusiasts. It is inspired by the bright lights and state-of-the-art technology found in Hong Kong’s Kowloon and Tokyo’s Ginza districts;

• The Arcades, comprising small scale enclosed luxury boutiques, accessible through Prestige and Grand Avenue;

• The Gardens, directly above connecting to the Prestige from the mezzanine floor, which offers covered ‘outdoor’ dining experiences of the highest quality;

• The Forum, which takes architectural inspiration from the iconic architecture of London’s Regent Street to deliver a new and exciting retail experience for the region. It is set underneath a mega dome and provides shopping over three levels; and

From concept (left) to completion ...the distinctive exteriors of Cinemas district.

From concept to completion ...the distinctive exteriors of Cinemas district.

• The Cinemas district, which will have a distinctive external appearance along Ghazali Road. It will feature three-dimensional forms, incorporating external LED lighting and high-resolution screens as an iconic addition to the architecture of The Avenues.

Also, a four-star Hilton Garden Inn and a luxury five-star Waldorf Astoria hotel will be developed as part of the new extension, featuring world-class rooms and suites, complemented by meeting rooms, leisure and spa facilities.

Elaborating on the latest expansion works, Pace’s CEO Engineer Tarek Shuaib tells Gulf Construction: “Additional components of this massive venture will include a 260-m extension of the Grand Avenue, which will create a new high-street shopping experience for Kuwait with a well-synchronised blend of elements from regional, Western and contemporary architecture for the facades and interiors.

“As for the Prestige district, the new expansion will include additional 47 distinctive luxury retail units. The Souk is being extended to include a district which embodies marketplaces from around the Middle East and is an interpretation of traditional regional retail architecture.”

With overall works now more than 90 per cent complete, Pace is successfully realising the innovative architectural vision of the development. A multitude of industry-leading technologies are being employed across the project, including intricate CNC (computerised numerical control) cut patterns on titanium-coated surfaces and super-sized composite panels with metallic coatings that incorporate feature lighting.

The successful use of the high-tech ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) roof in Phase Three is continued for Phase Four. The roofing required a specialised design from an experienced contractor to deliver the feeling of outdoor indoors via environmentally controlled surroundings that are suitable for year-round occupation in Kuwait’s harsh climate.

In addition to providing a translucent roof to the retail areas of the new extension, the high-tech roof is being used to form complex shapes and configurations with chrome cowlings to absorb the excess heat.

The foundation/raft substructure comprises CIS (cast in situ) concrete while the superstructure is a combination of CIS columns and beams with precast pre-stressed concrete slabs.

 

Challenges & impact

A project of this size definitely has challenges. Highlighting these, Shuaib says the timeframe given to Pace to implement this gigantic extension was tight. However, putting to use over 50 years of experience in construction and project management, Pace was able to speed up works to have the mall open by the first quarter of 2018.

Other challenges included constructing the largest unsupported ETFE/steel dome in the GCC with a diameter of 70 m located above the Forum; HVAC installations for the complex, which was overcome by providing adequate cooling towers and chillers; erecting a huge amount of scaffolding around the project.

Also, excavations and dewatering required a 24/7 deep well process due to the high levels of ground water. Accordingly, a heavily reinforced slab was designed to counter the uplifting pressure and provide a strong foundation to mobilise the construction equipment and to ease the building process.

Another challenge was sourcing and securing the special and rare materials and finishes from all over the world, including from Europe, China, the US and the GCC, he says.

Commenting on the project’s environmental impact, Shuaib says: “We are proud that our materials have been sourced from local and sustainable suppliers wherever possible to reduce the overall carbon footprint of the building.”

He says numerous environmental studies were carried out during the design phase, such as traffic impact, noise impact, energy and wind tunnel modelling. These studies have resulted in improvements in vehicular access, reduction in traffic congestion, conservation of energy, an improved interior environment and more efficient use of water and other services.

The lighting design incorporates LED lighting which reduces both heat emission and energy consumption.

A waste management strategy was also developed to streamline the removal of waste material from the retail units to the compactors via clean and hygienic systems and allow possible future recycling.

Electromechanical systems have been engineered to maximise flexibility for future adaptations with minimal construction impact, whilst offering environmentally efficient systems and construction techniques that minimise waste and enhance standards.

Advanced safety inductions and awareness workshops were presented by world-class engineers to labourers in order to protect their health when operating heavy machinery and high-tech methodologies employed for this project.

Pace was successful in streamlining all channels of communication between all the parties involved including the owner, the contractor and subcontractors. This effectively facilitated all operations, resolving problems and finding optimum solutions.

“The state-of-the-art concepts of the Avenues Mall, which have evolved with the new designs of each phase, have presented an exceptional leisure and tourism experience in Kuwait.

“Its establishment was a game-changer in the entire retail industry across the entire Middle East. The Avenues has become an internationally standardised touristic destination in Kuwait, attracting visitors and shoppers from all over the region,” Shuaib concludes.  




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