The managing director of Wrightstyle, a glass solutions company that worked on Orbital at London's...
A UK glass and steel glazing company with a growing international reputation has supplied a range of its specialist systems for the largest infrastructure project in Dubai for more than a decade.
The £4.5bn Dubai Metro, which opened this month (September) is the world’s largest automated driverless train system, with just under 75km of magnetic track, and joins together many of the Emirate’s instantly recognisable icons, including the Burj Al Arab, Dubai’s self-styled seven-star hotel, as well as the Palm Island, and the tallest building in the world, the Burj Dubai.
Wrightstyle, based in Wiltshire, supplied over 300 square metres of curtain walling, fire rated to 60 minutes of integrity and insulation, and which included both the company’s SR60 framing system and WSL F28 specialist glass. The contract also included a number of fire-rated opening windows from their 6050F1 series, and mainly intended to protect the station’s primary evacuation route.
The company was chosen for its international experience, its specialist expertise in the supply of both the glass and steel frames in one integrated, tested and guaranteed system – and its ability to meet the demands of a complex project in just over one month from the order being placed.
The systems were all supplied into the Rashidiya Main Depot, the starting station of one of the Metro’s two lines, capable of handling 22,000 passengers an hour, and able to accommodate 64 trains for cleaning and maintenance. The Depot also includes the system’s operations and emergency response centre, all managed through 668 military personnel, 3,000 surveillance cameras, two police stations, and eight security offices.
The interior of each of the system’s 47 stations all feature themes adopted from the four elements of nature: water, air, fire and earth. The design of the exterior of the elevated stations is a unique shell-shaped roof which invokes the heritage of pearl diving – an integral part of Dubai’s history.
The theme of water and air is carried through into the interior design of the trains, each of which has five compartments and three classes – Golden Class with leather seating, Women and Children’s Class, and Silver Class.
The Wrightstyle systems were all designed and fabricated at the company’s Devizes base and supplied fully finished to the main contractor, JTMJV (Japan Turkey Metro Joint Venture), that employed a local fixing company, approved by Wrightstyle, to handle installation.
The contract timetable meant that design, manufacture, paint and packing had to be completed within four weeks of the order being placed. This necessitated Wrightstyle having to airfreight four tonnes of framing and nine tonnes of glass, with the balance following by seafreight.
The new Metro system comes in response to the Emirate’s huge growth. From a population size of 183,000 in 1970, Dubai now has a population of 1.1 million, still growing at 6.4% per year, and set to reach three million by 2017.
The city also boasts the world’s largest shopping mall, the first underwater hotel and the longest indoor ski slope. Not forgetting Space Adventures, in neighbouring Ras Al-Khaimah, that will soon be offering suborbital spaceflights.
There is also a $4.5 billion new airport; more than 60 residential towers at the Dubai Marina; the Dubai International Financial Centre, bigger than London’s Canary Wharf; Dubai International City; Dubai Healthcare City; Dubai Festival City; and the $5 billion Dubailand theme park, a desert Disneyland. Dubailand alone consists of 45 main building projects and 200 smaller building projects.
In keeping with the scale of growth, fire safety in the UAE has also improved. The first indication came with the establishment last year of a centre of excellence for fire safety testing and product approval, in a joint venture between Bodycote Warringtonfire and the Dubai Civil Defence (DCD) authority.
That has led to a sea-change in both enforcement attitudes and how products and systems are being specified and test certificates ratified. Until recently, most projects had to comply with integrity-only specifications. Now, a growing number of specifiers are requesting project-by-project fire test certification for both integrity and insulation – as was the case for the Dubai Metro contract.
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