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Back to Bahrain

As leader of the Bahrain Northshore team, Hyder project director Brett Doughty must
co-ordinate £55bn of construction planning.

Until three years ago Brett Doughty was Hyder's group director of highways covering all of the consultant's international work. Then he left this management role to get back to project work.

The move was inspired by Bahrain's enormous Northshore development project, comprising 25 multi-billion pound schemes situated in the sea close to the capital Manama, where he now leads the management team.

"Moving to Bahrain was my choice," says Doughty, now project director. "So much was happening here. I had visited the region in the capacity of group director of highways many times and it is a good lifestyle here."

Doughty came to Bahrain in 2006 after Hyder won the contract to act as technical advisor to the Ministry of Works Central Planning Unit. The role was essentially to act as a technical advisor to the government as it co-ordinates developments planned along Bahrain's north shore. "When the government invited bidders they made it clear this contract was of an experimental nature. We are helping them coordinate close to $100bn (£55bn) of work," says Doughty.

The Northshore is an area of Bahrain north of Manama and most of the site is underwater so mass reclamation is required as part of the developments.

There are 25 major schemes planned within the newly formed land masses, each around £2bn to £2.5bn.

These comprise luxury residential properties, major hotels, high-rise towers, recreational facilities and a new grand mosque. Around 20 schemes are currently in the planning and construction phases.

"We started by looking at what the developers had already begun and how to integrate this. Developers tend to think in close isolation, on their own, they do not know how their scheme fits in with other roads and utilities," says Doughty.

"It has not been easy but we have made some significant leaps forward."

One major development had its road network running around the site in an orientation that was fine for the development alone, but that did not easily connect with the wider area. The developer had to be convinced to change the layout.

"It was one-way, running effectively anti-clockwise and it needed to be clockwise to fit in to the overall development plan," says Doughty.

But of course making retrospective design changes costs money, which can be a difficult argument to make. "Developers spending significant sums of money do need convincing that changes will be beneficial."

And developers are not the only ones that have had to make changes. The Northshore team had to advise colleagues from Hyder to change the design for alterations to the King Faisal highway, which links the airport with key areas like Manama's financial and Corniche areas. As such it is the kingdom's most important road.

"It doesn't function well," says Doughty. "There are three lanes and 100,000 vehicles per day so it is highly congested at times.

"The Northshore team was then asked to review the concept that Hyder had put forward. We changed quite a bit of it. We have gone from having three separate underpasses to having one longer one, which is better functioning. We also changed some of the junction arrangements and worked with our colleagues on this."

To date, the team has not had to recommend that the planning committee prevent any schemes from going ahead. "So far I haven't seen anything being prevented but there will be some possibility of downscaling some of the aspirations if only to meet sensible power and water demands," says Doughty.

Unlike other Gulf states Bahrain is not suffering from power and water shortages, but such major developments place huge requirements on the grid.

Doughty has a 10-man team whose three-year contract ends in November but he is hoping this will be extended for another three years. Furthermore the team is encouraged that developers are beginning to rely on their services.

"Developers are coming to us first now, before they start their design, we talk to around six per month. One might say: "I am spending £500M can I talk it through?" and they will ask about how the location works with other developments, utilities and access. It is quite awesome."

"Developers are coming to us first now, before they start their design.One might say: "I am spending £500M can I talk it through?"

Andy Davids
structures director, Hyder Consulting
Project: Burj Dubai Tower, Dubai
Client: Emaar Properties
Client supervising engineer: Hyder Consulting

The tallest building in the world is now the Burj Dubai at over 650m. Developer Emaar Properties is financing the tower and it is expected to be complete by September 2009. Contractor Samsung is building the structure which will require 230,000m3 of concrete, 31,400t of steel rebar and 83,600m2 of curtain walling. Project manager is Turner Construction of the US and Adrian Smith with Skidmore Owings & Merrill as the designers.

"What is exciting is not just helping to shape the tallest building in the world but to be involved in the wider act of nation-building that these super tall structures represent" says Davids.

Tom Hay
Buro Happold, project leader
Project: Massar Children's Discovery Centre, Damascus, Syria
Consultant: Buro Happold

Buro Happold is working alongside Henning Larsen Architects and Martha Schwartz Partners on an educational discovery centre for children in Damascus, Syria. The Massar Children's Discovery Centre has sustainable design at its core. Construction materials emphasise local traditions and skills. Clay plaster will help create breathable walls and a comfortable environment that absorbs humidity and retains heat. Meanwhile, solar panels will gather heat during warm weather to charge the ground heat store. Biomass boilers will be used for thermal generation rather than oil or gas burning boilers and combined heat and power units will generate electricity. The building's cooling design incorporates a ground cooling store system and an earth tube/labyrinth system. The offices, studio spaces and retail areas will be ventilated by dragging air through earth tubes to pre-cool it before additional air conditioning. Ventilation for the galleries will be produced by passing air through hollow core slabs from the courtyard. By using this system, air is heated and cooled passively, harnessing the thermal mass benefits of the heavyweight material. Buro Happold's environmental strategy was designed to work with Damascus' Mediterranean climate, which is warm between April and November and cold in winter. Energy cycles will be shown within the building to teach children about the changing seasons.

Craig Thackray
Scott Wilson project manager
Project: Diyar Al Muharraq
Client: Ministry of Housing, Bahrain
Consultant: Scott Wilson

Located on reclaimed land off the north coast of Muharraq, Diyar Al Muharraq is one of the largest mixed-use residential urban developments in Bahrain. It will house over 100,000 people and is the first privately-funded development to offer affordable housing. Scott Wilson is the consulting engineer. With responsibility for the design of the islands, its team is taking on a variety of roles including master planner, marine designer and modeller, supervising engineer and environmental consultant. The development aims to set a benchmark in the Gulf for the implementation of environmental mitigation measures and the monitoring of their effectiveness.

"Diyar Al Muharraq is a unique development, in terms of its size and engineering challenges. Scott Wilson has been involved since January 2006."

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