Al Muneera is the product of international collaboration on a large scale
The precinct of Al Muneera can be found within the Al Raha Beach Development in the United Arab Emirates, not far from the Abu Dhabi City Corniche. Previously 10km of beaches and shipping canal shoreline, it has recently been developed by Aldar Properties PSJC, an Abu Dhabi-based development company. Michael Cox, the Australian project director of Al Raha Beach Development was one of the original directors of Aldar. His strong vision drove the concept design and managed to draw in a wide range of international architects.
The Al Raha master plan was created by Australian firm Esquisse and the landscape master plan by EDAW Australia. Singapore based SCDA produced the concept design for Al Muneera. Other architects involved included Norman Foster, Asymptote (New York), Benoy, GHD, MZ and Partners, and Broadway Malyan.
Leading engineering company Waterman International became the lead consultants in delivering SDCA's design. They in turn employed Matt Brindley from Kann Finch in 2007 to run the architectural part of the project alongside a 50-strong team of multinational staff.
Brindley produced an internal report about the design for Waterman, which found its way to Cox. Initially seen as a criticism, Brindley's redesign of the carpark from two levels to one and creation an additional 56 apartments where the upper level of carpark proved to be beneficial to the client. Brindley pushed the project forward by also redesigning the townhouses and many apartment layouts. An office tower was completely redesigned.
The project consists of a mainland and island site linked by two road bridges and a pedestrian bridge. There are 1,484 apartments in 16 residential towers, 149 townhouses and 11 waterfront villas. A 15-storey office tower sits on the mainland site. 20 restaurants fronting a public beach are found on the northern edge of the island. Underground parking holds approximately 3,000 cars while along the middle internal road of Al Raha, a light rail line running into Abu Dhabi has been proposed for development in 2015. There is also provision for a station directly opposite the main office tower.
Of the costs, Brindley says: "We succeeded, through redesign and value engineering, in saving the project over AED 2.5bn ($750m). Construction costs in 2009 money were AED 3.5bn ($1bn)." At present, the Aldar HQ by MZ and Partners, Al Bandar by Broadway Malyan and Al Zeina have been completed.