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The Breaker, Bahrain

The Tallest Pre-Cast in The Middle East

Tall buildings are a preordained form and part of the contemporary landscape in metropolises at the present time. There are many ways to construct tall buildings and in practice it is the desired use of buildings which predominantly determines their design.

The Breaker is an impressive building with a modern designed architecture and extravagantly ornamented finishes.

The precast concrete structural system is rarely adopted in tall buildings because of the typical open plan design and long spans which give rise to deep beams and heavy weight of each individual member. The feasibility or constructability of using precast concrete structural system and construction method, especially for office buildings located in high value urban districts usually with highly constrained site areas, is not well ascertained by most designers. As a result, the precast concrete system is a method that has its merits in minimizing construction waste and environmental impacts, which is applicable to tall buildings as well.

Middle East boasts an impressive array of tall builds and Bahrain is also a home to the tall building structures including Dual Tower and Bahrain World Trade Centre. Recently, Bin Faqeeh Real Estate Investment Company has put the Kingdom of Bahrain in to the records in the real estate market in the Middle East by setting the international record for the highest precast tower in the Middle East and the second highest pre-cast in the world. Located in Seef District, Manama, opposite Bahrain City Center covers 35 floors with a total height of 165 meters.

The Breaker is a residential development which includes one and two bedroom apartments, in addition to penthouses. Featuring private elevator for penthouses and five floors dedicated for car parking with a capacity of over 200 cars; this provides 2 car park spaces for each two bedroom apartments. Unique features include spacious living with each floor built to height of 4.2 meters per floor (slab to slab) and state of the art facilities.

The Breaker is a spectacular masterpiece addition to the Bin Faqeeh portfolio of properties. This precast building was completed on schedule to very good specifications, at very affordable prices. The Breaker is a pioneering building not just in Bahrain, but for the rest of the Middle East as the project leads the way with many record breaking features. The Breaker is an impressive building with a modern designed architecture and extravagantly ornamented finishes. An extraordinary display of design, created with the best interior and architectural approach, dictates a majestic feeling that is truly overwhelming.

Standing at over 150 m, The Breaker tower in Seef, Bahrain, has precast elements that were designed, produced, and erected by the Bahrain Precast Concrete (BPC). In fact, with this project, BPC has broken its own record as builder of the tallest precast concrete building in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region which was earlier held by the Shehab Executive Tower - a twin 24-storey office building, also in Seef, Bahrain.

"BPC is known for its innovative ideas and ability to provide precast solutions for all types of applications. With this in mind, Bin Faqeeh Real Estate Investment Group approached BPC to provide a complete precast solution for this 35-storey building with a twisted structure," says Michael Pedersen, the general manager of BPC. Nobody in the Middle East has ever ventured a complete precast solution for such a tall building. However, BPC took up this challenge and successfully completed installing the last panel at a height of 150.165 m.

BPC's scope of work for The Breaker was to design, produce, deliver and erect the precast concrete elements, which included 2,593 shear walls, columns, beams, solid slabs and staircases; 21,165 sq m of 150-mm, 200-mm, 265-mm and 500-mm-thick hollow-core slabs; and 13,000 cu m of combined volume of concrete. The building comprises apartments, a car-park, swimming pool, and gymnasium, among other facilities.

Design Details

The architectural design of what was initially a 155-m-high tower was completed and approved by the client with very little scope for changes. However, the project was later converted from a twisting office building to a straight residential building with a height of 150.165m.

All the lateral load-bearing elements were clustered around lift shafts and staircases on one side of the building, whereas the other half was completely open. This generated very large torsion in both directions. An analysis was performed considering free joints between slab to slab, slab to beam, beam to column and wall to wall. Individual walls were designed as free cantilevers, 155-m high, loaded at every floor (both vertical and horizontal) and fixed to foundation. The design was created and checked on finite element programme. The loads and combinations were as per Euro/BS standards.

In order for precast to succeed commercially and unlike cast-in-situ, the precast joints between columns and beams are designed as free of moment and carrying only gravity loads. The horizontal loads arising from natural causes - mainly from wind and seismic forces - are supported either for single or double storey by cantilever columns or for high-rise building, cross bracing in steel or concrete for the entire height and shear wall system. The shear wall system is the most effective way of resisting horizontal shear force and controlling sway.

From BPC's past experiences, this system has proved to be the more technically sound option. In a precast structural model, which is the most cost-effective and where joints are moment free between beam to columns, slab to beams and the group of walls close to each other are designed as uncoupled.

Challenges at the Execution Stage

The completion speed of a project is always the essence. Since the construction involved minor in-situ works, the work schedule was prepared in such a way that no time would be wasted and the site operation was made as smooth as possible. The installation of precast elements in the circular area was given the highest priority enabling the civil contractor to carry on its works. In parallel with the civil works, BPC was also able to progress in the lift area with the erection of core walls and lift walls together.

BPC carried out the work at an average erection speed of two-and-half floors per month (approximately 13 days to complete a floor). This consisted of seven days for the assembly; erection and grouting of precast beams, hollow-core slabs and staircases, and six days for the precast columns and shear walls. Cantilever slabs for every floor were completed (by others) in between BPC's works.

The challenge BPC encountered was the delay in enhancing the tower crane capacity. Despite this delay, the company still managed to complete its work one week ahead of the approved schedule. This clearly shows that compared to the conventional way of building, the precast system is much faster considering the floor area. It attributes the success to BPC precast erectors' experience, dedication and hard work. The design of precast connections made it easier for the erectors to do their work.

Another challenge was the erection of the precast elements. The weight of the precast concrete elements, the height of the building and the radius of the farthest element from the lifting point meant BPC had to secure what may be the largest tower crane in the GCC region. The crane was required to stand freely at 100 m, carrying a load of 24 tonnes at a radius of 43 m. When finally erected, the massive crane had a maximum hook height of 168 m and could carry 12 tonnes at 60 m radius.

The Breaker is the embodiment of luxury, style and comfort - elements which are very much sought after in ideal residences.

BPC introduced the multi-storey precast concrete structural building system to the Bahrain market in 2006 by developing the structural precast technology and converting traditional building construction into a full precast concrete building system for an 11-storey building in Umm Al Hassam, Bahrain. Since then, BPC has carried out a number of projects using the same concept including an 18-storey mixed-use development, a 13-storey hotel (full building system), a 14-storey mixed-used tower, and its two record-breaking projects.

The Breaker tower, situated near the Bahrain City Centre Mall, will serve as an excellent testament to the high performance and speed of precast concrete construction and has become a distinguished landmark that will be admired by everyone. The Breaker is the embodiment of luxury, style and comfort - elements which are very much sought after in ideal residences. Experience new heights in luxury living and break free from the hassles of the modern city. Witness the breathtaking glamour and statement that only "The Breaker" can give.

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