Shoppers flock to Dubai’s new high-quality retail outlet mall

  • Build project for client Meraas is valued at close to £60m
  • Standout feature of 38,200 sq m mall is glazed steel-frame roof
  • Interior design inspired by UNESCO World Heritage site in Italy

A luxury shopping mall that has been designed to feel and look like a medieval Tuscan hilltop town is already wowing shoppers in Dubai.

The Outlet Village shopping centre project, valued at close to £60m (285mAED), will eventually be 38,200 sq m in size and is home to dozens of high-quality retail stores offering their products at discounted rates.

Laing O’Rouke has constructed the mall by following designs from architectural consultant Callison, which were inspired by UNESCO World Heritage site San Gimignano in Italy.

All is not quite as is seems, reveals senior project manager Renjith Nair. “Although the materials used inside look absolutely like authentic stone and brick shipped in from Italy, in fact the facades have instead been created using plaster that has been cleverly shaped to form different textures and painted to appear like the real thing.”

Concourse roof is standout feature

The mall features high-ceiling piazzas and streets linked by low and arched entrances. A standout feature is the upper roof in the concourse area: constructed using a steel frame with a mixture of glazed and composite cladding panels, its highest point reaches to 14m.

One unexpected challenge was a mid-project decision by the client, Meraas, to extend the size of the mall, adding 17 extra shops. Laing O’Rourke will finish this second phase of building by the end of 2016.

Renjith says: “This was a variation that obviously wasn’t in the original agreement but once we got the go-ahead the team just took it in their stride.” While most of the mall has been open for business since the beginning of September, final tender fit-out of the units is being carried out with completion expected at the start of 2017.

Offsite manufacturing helped save time and ensure quality

The main scope of works included mall construction with Italian-style decorative entrances, walls, concourse, shop fronts and specialist ceiling finishes. Substructure work included reinforced concrete stub columns, ground beams, waterproofing, earth backfill and provision for underfloor services prior to casting grade slab. Superstructure work included reinforced concrete columns and beams, hollow core slabs with in-situ concrete toppings.

External works included car parks and internal roads covering 96,000 sq m, with street lighting, landscaping, drainage, electrical, fire-fighting and telecommunication network.

Once again, our offsite manufacturing capabilities helped to deliver all this. Renjith says: “We had hundreds of buried service manholes that were precast offsite, which saved time, ensured quality and cut manpower needs. In addition, 6m-length mechanical, electrical and plumbing modules were assembled offsite before being installed at the project site.”