Burj Al Arab, Dubai was developed between 1994 and 1999. It was built in the shape of the Arab dhow, a kind of Arabian vessel. Two wings spread in a V shape to form a mast, with the space between them making the world’s substantial atrium. It needed to be a building that might become synonymous with the country’s name. 

Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet1
Construction of Burj Al Arab_©https://www.arabianbusiness.com/industries/construction/435955-burj-al-arab-from-inspiration-to-icon

Phase I Construction | Burj Al Arab Dubai

A three-month lead would allow the first phase of construction to address the complexity of the structure. During this time, construction scheduling, forming system purchases, crane and hoist planning, and initial programming were possible. The project is used now for value engineering and the development of innovative methods for accomplishing eccentric tasks. A variety of the prime challenges in this phase was related to the exoskeleton embodiments, which were redesigned so on ease the installation and speed up the cycle times to adhere to the tight schedule. Additionally, to the exoskeleton, Genrec was faced with redesigning a variety of structures just to facilitate constructability. Lattice girders were replaced with rear-braced frames construction to box girders. This wasn’t only a saving in money but also made the property much easier to create (Al Habtoor). 

Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet2
The start of construction in early 1995_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf

Phase II Construction

For phase II the client had the choice to award it to another contractor should the results of the first phase prove to be unsatisfactory. The client decided to stay with the same firms since their methods were already proving to speed up and cheapen construction. Phase 2 was all of the particular construction of the structure. The partners used many new technologies to hurry up construction and lower the construction cost so the companies could earn more profit by saving money in such places as labor and equipment (Al Habtoor).

Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet3
The concrete sheer walls are constructed using reusable steel formwork resulting in a quicker construction time and less wastage of materials compared to traditional timber_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet4
The lower bracing and first diagonal mega truss has to be installed to stiffen the structure before the building gains too much wieght_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet5
The lower bracing and first diagonal mega truss has to be installed to stiffen the structure before the building gains too much wieght_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet6
The lower cross braces are in place and lightweight wing end suites are being constructed. Inside the atrium, the first curved suite end walls are being installed_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf

Island Construction Process | Burj Al Arab Dubai

Concept and Design

The main concern was the shielding of the island, with waves breaking over the island and impacting the structure. The initial proposal was by a rock that was simply available and supported the existing technologies. Architect-Wright, however, rejected the proposal because this would make the island too high and his concept was –a sail rising from water-people close to the sea. There was a lot of debate on the height of the island. Then Nicholas experimented with pioneering concrete blocks– specially designed to reduce the impact of waves. The examination was done to ensure the island was safe-3 weeks of testing came up with positive results.

The land for the construction was claimed back in 3 years and the formation took time of fewer than 3 yrs. Over the waves, the island rises seven and a half meters. A concrete honeycomb-shaped solid block protects the island from waves. These types of blocks were used for the first time in gulf construction. The Burj Al Arab island consists of 20 piles 45m in length. The diameter of the piles is 1.5m. The lowest basement has a depth of 7m below sea level. 

  • Temporary tube piles were driven into the sea bed. Temporary sheet piles and tie rods are driven into the sea bed to support boundary rocks. 
  • Permanent boundary rock bunds were deposited on either side of the sheet Piles Hydraulic fill layers are deposited between bunds to displace sea water and form islands.
  • Constant concrete armor units were placed around the island to protect it from the waves. The units are 2m in diameter and 43m deep piles driven through the island and sea bed below to stabilize the structure. 
  • The island interior was excavated and a temporary sheet pile coffer dam was inserted. A 2m thick concrete plug slab was laid at the base of the island. A reinforced concrete retaining wall was built for the Basement floors were created. 
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet7
The island is constructed 300m offshore in 6m deep water_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet8
Cross section through island_A ring of steel interlocking sheet piles was built that formed a wall in the form of the shape of the island. The wall was temporarily held by tubular piles and cables_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet9
Sand was used to fill up the island inside the sheet piles. Rocks were placed around the outside to protect the structure. Once the rocks were in place, the temporary tubular pile could be removed _©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet10
The sand fill was used as a working platform from which the main building support piles could be constructed. The SHED units were placed outside the rock armour_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet11
The sand fill was then removed and the ends of the piles were exposed. A two-meter thick waterproof concrete slab and concrete slab walls were constructed. The top of the slab is 7m below sea level_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf

Load Analysis

Total dead load : 2850,000,000 lbs
Total live load : 86,160,000 lbs
Total load on foundation : 150,000 lbs/SF
Maximum horizontal wind load : 2,366,000 lbs

Lateral Loads | Burj Al Arab Dubai

The Burj Al Arab has three tubular steel trusses on the surface of the two sides of the V (in green). The wind and earthquake forces were acted against by cross bracing of trusses. The lateral load was transferred by the translucent fabric wall of the atrium (marked in red). Thanks to the rigidity, lateral loads are transferred to the material wall who acts similar to the diaphragm. The form of Burj Al Arab lowers wind forces more effectively than a square building because of the streamlined V and curved fabric atrium wall (marked in blue).

Vertical Loads

The structure transfers vertical loads from the highest to the bottom of the formation using several  Aspects. The structure transfers the vertical loading through the massive spine. This is often the most direct way for vertical loads to reach the ground. Also, the curved edge is used to transfer the vertical loads. The steel trusses running alongside the structure also help in deflecting the horizontal loads.

Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet12
Structural bracing shown in the form of an exoskeleton frame on the outside of the building_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet13
The concrete floor slab and vertical sheer walls are partially stiffened by the main lift core_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet14
When the wind blows in storm conditions the building would rack without cross bracing to stiffen it_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet15
On two sides of the building three steel mega structures are used to brace the structures. The trusses are connected to a steel exoskeleton which is attached to the main lift core. These components act together to stiffen the lift core and thus whole building_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet16
The top part of the structure supports the mast. Supporting the mast gives the top of the structure something useful to do other than look good_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
The two accommodation wings require bracing in other direction_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Huge cross braces fixed inside the atrium behind the fabric wall to tie the whole structure together_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf

Technologies used in construction | Burj Al Arab Dubai

One new technology that they used was the Cantilever Top Climbing Jump Form system for the most core area. The 300-ton forming system was designed by Cantilever Pty Ltd, Queensland, Australia. By using a dozen synchronous electric-operated screw jacks, the entire system is lifted by pushing off the top of the walls previously poured in a top climbing jump form system. The shaping system chosen for the wing walls and the stair cores was Doka’s SKE automatic-climbing form system. The wing areas of the building house the two-story suites. Each of the six walls per wing is 13 meters long and was poured in 3.57-meter lifts. The form was designed by Doka in such a way that two climbing brackets per form were needed. The fewer suspension points meant fewer man-hours were required for each work thus, saving time and money.

Another place where mechanics was used was within the form system for the main floors. This system was designed, manufactured, and furnished by Cantilever Pty Ltd. This was designed as a flying cable and was braced by brackets attached to the walls. The shape itself weighed 18 tons. The frame for every form was constructed with huge castellated steel beams and measured 18.3 meters long by 8.1 meters wide. Once the slab was cast and reached sufficient strength, the configuration was jacked down off the wall brackets and flown into the succeeding position with tower cranes. The table forms saved time by eliminating the necessity for shoring labor to hold them up. Additionally, Meinhardt International helped the venture re-engineer the slabs to a post-tensioned design, reducing the workers on reinforcing steel and the time required to get sufficient strength to strip the form (Doka). 

SHED units were used to dissipate the actions of waves hitting the island. The island sits 7m out of the water and is designed to protect the lower floors of the buildings from a hundred-year storm_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
SHED units were used to dissipate the actions of waves hitting the island. The island sits 7m out of the water and is designed to protect the lower floors of the buildings from a hundred-year storm_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
SHED units were used to dissipate the actions of waves hitting the island. The island sits 7m out of the water and is designed to protect the lower floors of the buildings from a hundred-year storm_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf

Lighting Control System

At 14,000 channels, it is the largest architectural lighting control system ever made (Futronix). A PFX-32 dimming control system controls every space’s lighting in each suite. The foremost suites have five systems giving a complete 160 channels of lighting. As if the within lighting schemes weren’t enough, each suite is additionally equipped with digital surround sound, multimedia-enhanced 42” plasma television, internet access, touch-screen video and teleconferencing, fax machine, data port photocopier, and to top it all off, automated curtains (Burj Al Arab). Burj Al Arab is lighted by 150 color-changing LEDs and highlighted by 90 Data Flash strobes. The tower changes colors from white to multicolor because of the property’s evening exterior progresses.

Technical Details | Burj Al Arab Dubai

In the fabric atrium wall, The membrane is built from 2 skins of PTFE-coated fiberglass separated by an air gap of approximately 500mm and pre-tensioned over a series of trussed arches. Located between the outer bedroom wings of the hotel that frame the atrium, these arches span up to 50 meters. The double-curved membrane panels so formed are ready to take positive wind pressures by traveling from truss to truss and negative wind pressures by spanning sideways. Additionally, the cables were provided running on the fabric’s surface to reduce the membrane deflection.

The trussed arches which may extend out from the supports by up to 13 meters are supported vertically on the 18th and 26th floors by a series of 52mm diameter cross-braced bars magically. The core structures received load from the girder of these floors. These bars are then pre-tensioned to make sure that the whole structure remains in tension.

An expansion joint is given for the absolute height of the building on the right-hand side of the wall. this permits the structure to breathe under wind loads and avoids the exertion of large horizontal loads on the relatively weak bedroom structures. The resulting form is entirely appropriate for the building and its function with the material reducing solar gain into the atrium and providing an effective diffused light quality. it’s also appropriate for the Middle-East region where its predicted lifespan and self-cleansing qualities should resist the aggressive environment.

The ETFE Fabric wall is shown here fitted on its support trusses like giant square rigger sails. The support trusses are hung from the top of the atrium on cables which is tensioned into the ground next to the main entrance_©https://static1.squarespace.com/static/519f87b2e4b02061e74db6b6/t/523c2a8ee4b0f0cfeaff5207/1379674766598/Creating+the+Burj+Al+Arab.pdf
Construction of Burj Al Arab, Dubai - Sheet23
Detail of Burj Al, Arab_©https://www.slideshare.net/shahrozalam210/burj-alarab1203786822334454


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Rashi Sharma is an Architecture student from India awarded for her debating and creative skills in the field of Art and Architecture. She is known for her details through graphics explanation that makes her stand out from other authors. She specializes in writing about architectural content and also reviews categories of books.