Grand Prix for Super-VIPs
Although this year’s Formula 1 World Champion has already been crowned, thousands of passionate motor racing fans will have their eyes fixed on Abu Dhabi on 1st November 2009. The final and most enthralling race of the year will start at 14:00 pm Central European Time at the brand new Yas Marina Circuit and will see champion Jenson Button pit his wits against his rivals.
For the first time, a Formula 1 Grand Prix will start at dusk and end in artificial light. Furthermore, another global first will be the fact that the drivers will actually pass through a building during each of the 5.5 km laps. The Marina complex of the futuristic five star Yas Hotel (Image 1) is connected to its twin building on top of the paddock by a two story air conditioned bridge. And the large windows enable a ‘bird’s eye’ view of the race track from both floors. The concerns that designers had regarding vibrations of the floors produced by excited visitors and those passing by have now been solved by the German company GERB. This is thanks to their effective dampers, which have also helped the Millennium Bridge in London.
Working against the clock
As recently as 2007, the New York based architects ASYMPTOTE ARCHITECTURE won the tender for the new hotel as a result of their futuristic design. However, there was only three months time left for the design process before construction commenced and many details had to be clarified while the hotel was being built. “We sealed the contract with a handshake at the end of 2008 in Abu Dhabi and started our design calculations for the required tuned mass dampers that very same day” explained Dr. Armin Winkler, General Manager of GERB Schwingungsisolierungen GmbH & Co. KG., as he illustrated the tremendous time pressure relating to this project.
Immediately following the finalization of the filigrane design of the Yas Hotel bridge, the Abu Dhabi based engineering company HARE STRUTURAL ENGINEERS decided to protect the large windows and the upper floor of the bridge structure from vibrations. This was done using so called Tuned Mass Dampers (TMDs), which are made in Germany. The time that remained for the calculation, design, construction and installation was extremely short – indeed, no more than three weeks were available for GERB’s engineers in Essen. Eight weeks were required to manufacture the TMDs in the Berlin GERB factory and another two weeks remained for installation and tests. Following one week of installation (Image 2) and two days of fine tuning on site, it was clear that the bridge would resist any kind of pressure. Even in scenarios where all of the guests of the hotel might be walking in unison, there would be no disturbing vibrations. Despite the fact that technology from the Berlin specialists has been in use here for years, this was the first time that TMDs, which saved the Millennium Bridge in London some years previously, were installed in a bridge in the United Arab Emirates. In buildings like the Burj Al Arab Hotel in the neighboring city of Dubai or the Doha Sports City Tower (now called the Aspire Tower) in Qatar, this technology has been used where the structures have to be protected from heavy wind generated vibrations as a result of the buildings being located close to the sea and their extreme height.
The most expensive Project of the UAE
The time schedules relating to all building projects in the US$40 billion city development project on Yas Island are not only extremely tight but also have to contend with typical problems of the region – for example temperatures of 55 °c, sandstorms and potential earthquakes. In July 2009, more than 41,000 workers were busy with numerous building projects on Yas Island. By 2030, the island will be enlarged by one third of its present area, which will see it increase to approximately 23 square kilometers. Under the leadership of the local investor Alda Properties, a number of living parks and mega-marinas with 1,400 ship docking stations, 20 hotels, an 18 hole golf course, the theme park “Ferrari World” and a Warner Bros. amusement park will be created. However, the Yas Hotel, with its outer shape being called a “veil”, has already become a landmark of the country’s capital, Abu Dhabi.