The Apple Store - Marayh Island, Abu Dhabi
by Mostafa Fawzi, Director of Engineering Design
Initial emails for projects come into our inboxes every week. A particular email that came in back in November of 2018 from our client partner, Stantec, had a codename of Project Splash. It wasn’t long until we learned that this project was for the brand new Apple Store within the Galleria Mall on Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi, UAE.
I’m Mostafa Fawzi, the Director of Engineering Design at Crystal Fountains and was the lead engineering designer and project manager on this opportunity. Our team worked on all design aspects of this project with world-renowned Architects from Fosters + Partners and the Apple team throughout as the specialist water feature consultant.
Each project that we collaborate on has its unique set of challenges, some much more than others. Overcoming challenges is something we excel at, so we felt like we were the perfect fit for this project in the way in which we work; globally and within our teams.
The Apple Store project is an excellent example of a successful collaboration between an array of different disciplines too.
We worked as a design sub-consultant to Stantec, along with other specialty sub-consultants like Seele, PCT, and others. We collaborated directly with Apple representatives, the client Mubadala, the operator of the Galleria Mall, the lead architects Fosters + Partners, and cost consultants AECOM.
The Mall Space
Owned by Mubadala Investment Company, The Galleria is an impressive mall and shopper’s delight with over 400 stores from high-street favourites to luxury brands.
Cafes, restaurants, and world-class entertainment; VOX cinema with IMAX experience theatre, a National Geographic Ultimate Explorer, three rooftop parks, and flagship Xtreme Zones for those looking for an active edge to their shopping experience.
As seen on Apple.com
The Design Process
Our journey started in November 2018 when Stantec approached us to assess project Splash. There was an existing water feature in the heart of the mall, right by the waterfront. It was a simple but rather massive reflecting pool, sitting on top of an even bigger underground infrastructure and pump room.
One of our tasks was to retain as much of the existing infrastructure and equipment as possible and integrate them into our new design.
When we stepped in, there were already concepts in place from the lead architect, Fosters + Partners. And we had several collaborative workshops to reach a design that meets the architects’ vision but was also constructible. A successful water feature was our end goal. And In May 2019, we completed our final drawing package.
The Mockup Process
Performing mockups is one of the most valuable steps in a design process. It is the only proof of concept that eliminates risks whenever there are unknown elements. For the Apple Store project, we constructed a mockup feature near the mall in Maryah Island, both for the stepped cascade and the glass tunnel water wall.
As well as designing the water features for this project, we designed the mockups to test the different effects, for proof of concept, and to get the client’s sign-off.
We built six different weir edge details for the stepped cascade outside the store’s glass walls and ran them simultaneously for comparison. Some hugged the wall, and some had a laminar sheet of water, causing low visibility. We identified the one with the best throw and water agitation for visibility. We also took the chance to test different finishes, so the client could observe the variety of colors and textures and make informed decisions about the look and feel to meet their vision.
The Corner Void and Defying Physics
One highlight of the weir mockup was fulfilling the request by the Apple team to eliminate the triangular void that forms at the cascade corners.
At first, this seemed like an impossible task to defy physics because we’d typically need an infinite flow rate for the length of the corner which is zero.
We found the solution by being creative with the architectural detail and using the water’s surface tension to connect the two weir sides. We have never been asked to improve this aesthetic until the Apple team requested it for this project. This request is an excellent example of understanding water behavior to influence a particular aesthetic, which was made possible through mockup studies, our years of experience, and knowledge. The result of this will be carried over to future projects.
Water wall mockup
We also mocked up the glass water walls collaborating with the teams from Seele and PCT. Six meter tall, full-scale textured glass was used as it would be in the tunnel from the mall to the store. We tested three different textured glass panels – one with horizontal corrugated lines, one plain with no texture or lines at all, and one with vertical corrugated line texturing. We tested two options for the source of water flow, and the details to hide them. We even tested the visibility and quality of the seam lines. In the end, the horizontally textured panels gave the desired agitation and created a unique moving pattern that is mesmerizing in motion. The mockup process proved our design concept and answered questions that we all had and could see with our own eyes that it worked.
Listen to Mostafa Explain the Journey
Collaboration at its best
The Apple Store project is a testament to several teams and individuals’ hard work, dedication, and collaboration. We are proud to have overcome these challenges with determination and creativity. The elegance and simplicity that mall and Apple Store customers would experience required complexity and brilliance that is out of sight.
Project Splash is one of our most complicated engineering and design projects that had an incredibly successful outcome and will be seen by the world through images and pictures and by those lucky enough to visit Maryah Island and its one-of-a-kind Apple Store.
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