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SKI DUBAI SNOW CENTRE, DUBAI, UAE

BCI AWARDS - INTERNATIONAL

For projects outside the UK for which either the principal designer or the principal contractor is a UK-based British firm. Sponsored by Civils 2006.

A 'can do' approach is vital when taking on such a fantastic task as building a real-snow ski slope in the Arabian desert where ambient temperatures of up to 50°C are the norm. But the true scale of effort required must have dawned when the construction team was asked to build the structure 85m high with a right-angle bend in the middle, make it work faultlessly first time, and complete it inside two years.

Dubai Snow Centre was created as the star attraction of a new 350,000m 2 shopping mall. Some might consider sustainability to be an issue, but everything is relative. Cooling energy to keep the snow covering on the oor of the 22,500m 2 of ski slopes is, at maximum output, a mere 2.6MW. The rest of the development, conventional for Dubai, soaks up 95MW.

The design is like a vast Thermos ask - double-skinned with voids between the inner and outer walls. Voids are between 1.7m and, for the roof, 4m deep. Thick layers of polyisocyanurate panels, as used in cold stores, clad the walls. Glass-reinforced plaster panels on the outside resist the glaring sun. Floors were designed to carry up to a mighty 5 tonnes/m 2, mainly of snow.

The 3,000-tonne steel frame was lifted by strand jacks mounted in four temporary towers. As it was steeply sloping and would have acted as a sail had the wind started blowing across the at Dubai landscape, up it went at 1m an hour - then two weeks was needed to complete all the permanent connections.

When the frame was in place, the structure could be fitted out with its special equipment: ski lifts hanging from the roof, 100km of glycol chiller pipes, three ammonia chillers and 21 snow machines. Safety received very high priority and the accident frequency ratio was a mere 0.1 per 100,000 man hours - lower than some of the UK's best managed projects.

Client Majid Al Futtaim Group Cost £60 million Principal designer Hyder Consulting Architect Holford Associates Contractor Al Naboodah Laing O'Rourke

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