As the UAE’s ambitious plans for economic and social growth continue, one of the ongoing challenges is constructing sufficient residential development needed to house the country’s growing population. Global engineering and infrastructure advisory firm Aurecon played a leading role in supporting these efforts and is currently involved in one of the most ambitious projects underway in Abu Dhabi, namely Yas Acres. Located on the recently completed, man-made Yas Island, the development is envisaged to be a fully self-sufficient residential community designed to fit in seamlessly with additional developments as they come to fruition.
Engaged by urban design consultants Broadway Malayan, Aurecon managed the engineering masterplanning services on the project as well as the initial design work for the villas. Yas Acres presented Aurecon with two key challenges. Firstly, the infrastructure had to be fully self-sufficient at the time of launch, while also being flexible enough to connect with future developments as they are designed. Secondly, with a relatively high groundwater table, careful geotechnical design was needed to protect the development from any potential damage caused by the surrounding seawater.
Tanya Potgieter, Associate - Infrastructure at Aurecon, led the company’s design team and explains that careful analysis of numerous potential design permutations was required.
“This is one of the largest master planned communities in Abu Dhabi and is one of the first residential projects planned for the island,” she said. “So the planning work had to incorporate the current requirements as well as align with the various permutations for future developments. This meant a lot of analysis around the planning of roads, services, etc. plus co-ordination with our modelling team. It was essential for the client to create a destination that is both attractive for incoming residents and future-proofed to fit with construction work that will take place over the coming years.”
Designing around the high groundwater table also presented a challenge, especially because of the numerous parks, golf course and other green areas. Aurecon assessed various layout plans for the Marina and canal edge to optimise the user experience.
In total, Yas Acres occupies 280 hectares, comprising substantial accommodation as well as a golf course and a breath-taking waterfront and marina. Most importantly, the new development will be entirely self-sufficient with parks, sports facilities, schools and community retail all on site.
In terms of living space, Yas Acres will provide thousands of apartments and villas, ranging from two-bedroom to six-bedroom units. Grouped in clusters, the villas are built around the various areas of the development. For example, one large group is located close to the golf course, for those who wish to be close to those facilities; while others will be built at the marina, for those preferring a sea view or who enjoy water sports.
This design will allow new residents to select both the size and siting of their preferred residence, while also having the ability to make further adjustments to personalise their home during the development phase. Masterplanned by Aurecon and the design team, the marina at Yas Acres will be one of the major selling points of the development.
“The developers, Aldar Properties PJSC, want to create a long-term community where people will settle, raise families and create memories together,” said Tanya Potgieter. “In terms of design and engineering we have factored that vision into our design, taking into account the growing population that needs to be served by all manner of modern conveniences.”
Yas Acres is one of the biggest projects currently underway in Abu Dhabi and will be able to house some 15 000 residents upon completion. Design work is now complete and construction has started on the first phase of villas with an estimated completion date of late 2019.