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The museum of the future
BAM Higgs & Hill LLC, Dubai
The Museum of the Future in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE) has been dubbed the world’s most complex building, thanks to the unusual vertical torus shape and labyrinthine interiors.
An innovative structure to house the innovators of the future
The goal was to create a building which in itself was an innovation in construction techniques, to become a hub for startups and large technology companies to present and test their latest developments.
Rising 78 metres into the sky, the giant oval contains seven floors on top of a three-storey podium, with each storey varying in height. The key to success was careful planning, innovative Building Information Modelling of the 3D design and a combination of adaptable formwork solutions, to create the curved structure of this futuristic Museum.
The Museum’s curved shape presented an enormous challenge for the contractors due to the varying geometry both above and below ground.
“In this project one challenge was adding irregularly spaced box-outs, as the heights of the storeys vary and have to be taken into consideration during the climbing process,”
Sam Thomas, MEVA-KHK engineer
- Careful Planning & Innovative Design Techniques
The most important phase of this project was undoubtedly the planning. BAM Higgs & Hill LLC used parametric design and Building Information Modelling (BIM) design techniques to create three-dimensional (3D) depictions of the various construction phases.
a) Parametric design involves specifying various parameters and the relationships between them. For this building, this involved fine-tuning the shape of the building to remove particularly complex curves that could adversely impact the construction process.
b) Parametric design was also used to create the steel framework. This complicated grid of diagonal steel beams needed to be optimised to ensure outcomes such as a uniform beam diameter, an optimal quantity of steel, and minimal connection points. To achieve this, BuroHappold Engineering, the structural engineer, wrote their own algorithms.
“The precise 3D model proved to be a huge advantage, enabling us to efficiently plan the complex formwork system requirements.”
Sam Thomas, MEVA-KHK engineer
- Precision Execution
a) A labyrinthe basement built in record time
The labyrinthine basement of the Museum of the Future is smaller than the floors above and has no round walls or sloping ceilings.
Using the 3.50m high panels of the Mammut 350 wall formwork system, it was possible to form the walls with extreme precision. The rate of placing was immaterial thanks to the fresh-concrete pressure capacity of 100kN/m².
It was thus possible to pour the walls quickly, irrespective of the concrete recipe and consistency, the weather conditions and the ambient temperature. After stripping, the outer walls of the basement were supported by Triplex R props to ensure they were secure while filling in the working area.
b) Precision form and simple handing to create perfect curves
When the Museum opens, the exhibits will be mainly displayed on the building’s first three floors, which are each split into two areas by a curved central aisle.
The use of Radius circular formwork allowed these walls to be formed precisely to the nearest millimetre. The elastically deformable, 6mm thick steel facing could be bent to suit the shape of the building above a radius of 250cm. The 7-metre high walls in the entrance hall were completed after only two cycles using 3.50-metre high formwork panels. No additional auxiliary equipment was required to connect the circular formwork to the Mammut 350 panels. Assembly locks connect the two systems both positively and non-positively.
Furthermore, it was possible to produce acute angles (see photo) by creating a connection using a filler and Uni-assembly locks.
c) Flexible beam arrangement to minimise compensation areas
Despite the curves and various angles of this modern architecture, it was also possible to adapt the slab formwork system MevaDec to suit the building’s geometry. Primary and secondary beams can be used irrespective of the grid pattern, which minimises compensation areas.
Furthermore, the patented MevaDec drop head allows early stripping, thus contributing to a reduction of the material stocks and ensuring a rapid construction progress.
In some areas of the building the floors are connected by sloped slabs. MEVA planned these areas in advance, and calculations were performed in order to produce a simple solution using the MevaFlex slab formwork. The 30cm thick slabs of the third floor are also slightly sloped and, in addition, are to be covered with grass. This creates a hill covering the first three upper floors.
d) Guided climbing under exceptional circumstances
The building core was formed using MEVA’s MGC climbing system and Mammut 350 formwork with cycle heights of 3.50m. The MGC system was first pre-assembled on the ground to save time and then attached to the building with guiding profiles. It remained there – securely anchored – during the entire construction and lifting phase.
Whilst this innovative and unique project proved to be a challenge, it also stands as a shining example of the power and precision that digital technologies offer the construction industry – which is a fitting tribute for a building dedicated to futuristic innovation.
- Mammut 350 wall formwork
- Radius circular formwork
- MevaDec slab formwork
- MevaFlex slab formwork
- Triplex bracing
- MGC guided climbing system
Client & Construction Co:
BAM Higgs & Hill LLC, Dubai
The Museum of the Future
Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Dubai Future Foundation
Engineering & Support:
MEVA-KHK Formwork, Systems FZCO, Dubai, UAE
MEVA formwork is easy to use, which is, of course, a huge advantage with a particularly complex project. We found the good concrete results achieved with MevaDec particularly striking.
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