Site visit: VOX Cinemas, Palm Jumeirah
The media and entertainment sector in the GCC received a huge boost when Saudi Arabia opened its doors to its movie theatres after a hiatus of 35 years. Cashing on the development, Majid Al Futtaim announced the opening of 600 new VOX Cinemas screens across the kingdom. Founded 18 years ago, VOX Cinemas, operated by the UAE-based Majid Al Futtaim Group, currently runs 129 screens across the UAE, Oman, Lebanon, and Egypt.
In one of its much-awaited upcoming developments in Dubai, Nakheel signed up with the cinema giant to open the cinema experience on Palm Jumeirah, one of the firsts on the man-made island. The cinema will be housed inside Nakheel Mall, the AED1.2bn, 42ha retail, dining, and entertainment destination by Nakheel, taking shape at the heart of Palm Jumeirah.
With construction currently underway, Nakheel Mall will have 350 shops, restaurants, and leisure attractions across five floors, and three underground parking levels with 4,000 spaces. Features include two fountains, two waterfalls plunging 65ft into the mall, and a fine dining roof plaza.
The mall will also be the access point for the 240m ascent to the public viewing deck at The Palm Tower, Nakheels 52-storey hotel and residential building currently under construction. The Palm Tower comprises a 289-room St Regis hotel and 432 luxury apartments, with an infinity pool on the 50th floor. Above that is a 51st storey restaurant complex, with the rooftop viewing deck on the 52nd level.
Occupying a two-storey and 5,578sqm area at Nakheel Mall, VOX Cinemas will feature 15 theatres with a total seating of 923 plus space for 26 disabled people and provide the ultimate movie-going experience with the latest in cinema technology, the popular VOX MAX big-screen concept, and the luxury VOX GOLD experience. The Nakheel/VOX Cinemas partnership comes as more than half of the 100,000sqm of retail space at Nakheel Mall is booked by a growing number of top brand names.
Commencing operations in August 2017, regional interior contractor and manufacturer, Havelock AHI, is currently working to take the cinematic experience to the next level. William Gorman, head of projects, Havelock AHI Interiors, comments: The project comprises 15 theatres, out of which there are 11 standard auditoria and four Theatre by Rhodes screens – the VIP section of the theatre. It will be spread over two levels; the upper level consists of the kids auditorium and the kids lounge area.
On the lower floor, we have the Theatre by Rhodes section, which also has the VIP lounges and the VIP toilets. In addition to it, the lower level also has the general toilets, back-of-house areas, electrical rooms, and staff rooms.
We commenced construction in August last year and probably took three weeks of mobilisation to conduct various site condition surveys. As part of the early stages, there were requirements to be signed off by local authorities like Trakhees for the steel works. Running parallel to that, we began our process of getting all the construction works in place while the design of the steel was being validated.
The logistical challenges for the project required a strong team effort from Havelock AHI as well as dedicated management, planning, and close co-operation with the subcontractors turned the challenges into an ongoing success. Gorman says: The entire project along with its location posed its own set of challenges, with this one being located in the heart of the construction site. Logistics was big issue during the construction schedule; we had very limited access to the site in terms of the delivery of the materials from the construction area. We had to get in mobile cranes and schedule all the deliveries at particular times in the evening.
Due to the nature of the construction of the mall structure, it posed challenges like certain loading and unloading had to be done on specific ramps. So, we needed to be careful about the capacity of the cranes that we were bringing in and in terms of unloading materials and getting it lifted at proper places.
He continues: Since the entire site was not only confined to our works, we had to do a lot of co-ordination in terms of the methodologies and the people as well. We conducted weekly logistics and health and safety (HSE) meetings, and the project itself was adjusted from time to time according to what was happening throughout the course. There have been a lot of time restrictions because we had to factor in the heavy vehicles coming in with materials during the entire course of the day.
At the end of the day, it only came down to liaising with the main contractor and plan everything beforehand and accordingly. We had to make sure that the field co-ordination with all the stakeholders were clear across the development.
Currently there approximately 320 workers working onsite for the project. Gorman points out that there is a smaller squad at night who takes care of the deliveries, logistical stuff, and any activities that needs preparations in order to advance with next day. He adds: We source our raw materials from all over the world. There are local suppliers as well as we have materials coming from the UK and Europe. We are well underway with the installations for the kitchen areas. All the tiling works, ceilings, and other associated services are being done by us. We will have everything inspected and handed over before the main contractor comes in.
Gorman remarks that being a responsible contractor, they were quite cautious about the HSE quotient of the VOX Cinemas project. We always keep a check for all the activities we do and prepare the risk assessment reports. They are reviewed, and outputs are given so that it helps everyone to be aware of the activities undertaken in that particular environment.
We have a fulltime HSE officer onsite and is responsible for implementing all the regulations for the activities onsite. In addition, the construction team itself has its own set of HSE officers. Everybody is involved; we hold regular meetings and also engage with the main contractor on a weekly basis just to incorporate health and safety on a broader scale within the project.
Also, we have initiatives where people are nominated in terms of HSE practices where they are recommended for a small certificate or a gift of sorts.
Based on similar line, the contractor recently completed the VOX Cinemas at The Avenues Bahrain, a new waterfront shopping destination, located at Bahrain Bay. Gorman concludes: We do have the capability, capacity, and a highly skilled multi-trade work force to provide interior solutions catering to and exceeding expectations for such intricate projects.
Contract: warm shell and fit-out
Area: 5,993sqm at (fashion level and entertainment level)
- Steel structure for the cinema stadia and plant rooms.
- Complete MEP works.
- Acoustic ceiling and wall for cinemas.
- Standard decorative gypsum partition and ceiling.
- Paint and wall paper application
- Flooring and wall cladding of marble, ceramic, carpet, vinyl, and terrazzo.
- Decorative glass and metal works for common areas, lounge, and staircase.
- Joinery works, furniture, acoustics, and fire rated doors.
- Coordination with client direct contractors for cinema wall fabrics, carpets, seat, speakers, screens, projectors, elevator, and escalator.