A look at Bee’ah’s new Sharjah HQ and all of its sustainable facets
UAE-headquartered waste management company Bee’ah is building its new headquarters in Sharjah — a project that it says will “push the boundaries of sustainability”. According to Bee’ah officials, the office, which is designed by Zaha Hadid Architects, involves a tremendous feat of engineering, design, and environmental efficiency, and will become the most sustainable office in the emirate upon its completion in 2019.
“Bee’ah has aspirations to push the boundaries of sustainability, and the new headquarters is part of that ambition — to open up the road for others to demand more from their buildings and the environment,” director of civil and architectural projects at Bee’ah, Nada Taryam, tells sister title Construction Week.
“We recycle all of the water we use on site. All of the fittings and fixtures we use are water- efficient, and all the lighting is LED. We have efficient air- conditioning and trench cooling that helps to limit the effects of façade and glass heating,” she explains.
“We also have slab cooling in the lobby areas of the building, which means the entire space does not need to be cooled with air- conditioning and this, of course, helps to lower the total energy consumption of the building.”
Located in Al Saj’ah, the underconstruction office sits on a total builtup area of 7,450m² and will be the place of work for 170 staff, with sufficient room for 200 people. It will have an open-plan office layout, and will house a café, an art gallery, a visitors’ centre, an auditorium, a control room to monitor Bee’ah’s bins and vehicles, and a research lab. The facility will also incorporate water features, a car park, eight meeting rooms, and an 18m-tall domed roof.
REDUCE, REUSE, AND RECYCLE
The building will drive Bee’ah’s waste reduction, renewable energy, and sustainability targets, with environmental considerations woven into all elements of the futuristic office’s design. A photovoltaic farm with approximately 3,000 solar panels is being built to generate electricity for the office.
It will eventually produce enough clean energy to power the headquarters, helping it become a net-zero carbon building. Tesla’s power-pack technology will be used to store the solar farm’s energy – the nine storage packs it has acquired from the US firm boast a total capacity of 1,890kWh.
Bee’ah is also building a watertreatment plant on site that will recycle water for toilet flushing.
Tesla’s technology and the solar farm are in line with Bee’ah’s goal of securing for its headquarters a Leed Platinum rating, developed by the US Green Building Council. Taryam says there are no Leed Platinum-rated buildings in Sharjah as yet, which would make Bee’ah’s building the first such facility in the history of the emirate.
The construction team on site is using recycled steel, concrete, aggregate materials, and grey water to ensure the building’s environmental efficiency targets are met. Raw building materials have been acquired from sustainable sources, and lighting on the perimeter fencing of the project, which covers more than 93,000m², is solar powered. The longitudinal shape of the structure was designed to maximise the natural heating and cooling benefits of wind and sunlight.
“There are lots of aspirations for the project,” explains Taryam. “When we first started working on the building, it was mostly about the architecture, but there are bigger aspirations now. This is an office of the future; it is going to be a leading smart building, and it will employ a lot of the latest technologies for modern offices.
“We are working with leading companies to make this building smart, so it has a soul of its own. It is not just the architecture that makes this building special, it is the technology that goes into it, too.”
Taryam says that the most advanced technologies will be deployed to make the headquarters a future-ready office.
While details about the specific
BEE’AH HAS ASPIRATIONS TO PUSH THE BOUNDARIES OF SUSTAINABILITY AND THE NEW HEADQUARTERS IS PART OF THAT AMBITION – TO OPEN UP THE ROAD FOR OTHERS TO DEMAND MORE FROM THEIR BUILDINGS AND THE ENVIRONMENT. NADA TARYAM, BEE’AH
IT IS NOT JUST THE ARCHITECTURE THAT MAKES THIS BUILDING SPECIAL, IT IS THE TECHNOLOGY THAT GOES INTO IT, TOO. NADA TARYAM, BEE’AH
technology tools that will be used have yet to be disclosed, Taryam says that an integrated software will be developed as part of the process. This smart platform will be linked to the headquarters’ building management system to provide live data on the sustainability and energy- efficiency of the building.
“We are still working on all the technology at the moment, and right now [the prospects of ] what we can do are vast – but we need to tailor it to make sure what we have suits the needs of the building and the employees,” Taryam says. There are major milestones that need to be completed before this futuristic technology can be used to manage what Taryam describes as an “office of the future”. Construction teams on site are currently working to finish the envelope of the building, as well as testing and commissioning the headquarters’ mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems.
Construction work started on the site in 2016, when AFC was appointed the project’s main contractor in May. While the project has faced some challenges beyond its control due to the collapse of Carillion in the UK, work is advancing at pace and as scheduled.
The building’s superstructure and concrete dome have been completed, and work on the standing seam envelope and glazing steel is ongoing. External work for the underground facilities, such as drainage and piping, is also under way.
The project’s development is proceeding at a good pace, with approximately 350 workers currently on the site, but Taryam admits that the complex geometry of the structure can pose administrative and logistical
challenges that might worry other builders. “Because of the complexity of the forms, everything needs to be coordinated prior to installation,” she says. “All the parts come together seamlessly, but this building is not a box. Everything is curved and has its own form, so you have to ensure that everything down to the light switches is coordinated and fits nicely within the interior.”
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
The challenge for the interior of the one-storey building is in creating a seamless design that reflects the nuances of the organisation. While most of the open-plan office will feature monochromatic hues of grey and white, the management suite will have a “richer feel” than the rest of the building, Taryam says. Located on the first floor, the interior design of the management offices will feature timber veneer to give the area its “own character”.
The outdoor areas and breakout spaces, which Taryam calls the “lungs” of the building, will include two water features and a wealth of local vegetation. Self- sustaining plant varieties that do not require intensive maintenance will be incorporated. Bee’ah is looking to promote local biodiversity, using native plants to restore the desert landscape to help reverse the trend of species loss.
The landscape in which the headquarters is located inspired the building’s form, which was designed in 2012 and resembles rolling desert dunes. The complex, curving dome poses various engineering and design challenges. Glass-reinforced concrete was selected for the outermost layer of its façade, since it is significantly lighter than precast steel. Due to its reduced weight, it is also more environmentally friendly than other materials, such as precast concrete.
Having chosen sustainable and recycled materials such as steel, concrete, and aggregate materials; using grey and recycled water; and building an on- site solar farm and water treatment facility for its new headquarters, Bee’ah is ticking many of the boxes required for Leed Platinum certification. Combined with the technology that will make this an office of the future, Bee’ah’s new building appears set to become an iconic addition to Sharjah’s architectural landscape — and to live up to its promise of redefining sustainable design in the emirate.
The under-construction office sits on a total built -up area of 7,450m². Notable Abu Dhabi developments, including Ferrari World, are a part of TSES’s portfolio.
The first floor of the office will house Bee’ah’s management suite.
Nada Taryam, director of civil and architectural projects at Bee’ah.
Teams on site are working to finish the envelope of the building.
Once complete, the open-plan office will have a monochromatic aesthetic design.
Bee’ah says its new HQ will be Sharjah’s first Leed Platinum-rated building.