Phil Holden, managing director of Pascall & Watson
Executive council confirms schemes for housing, hospitals, airports, metro and schools
Abu Dhabi’s executive council has approved a spending bonanza that could be worth millions of pounds to British architects.
The news comes after months of speculation that the emirate was scaling back its development ambitions in response to the global financial crisis and the Arab Spring. But now it has confirmed more than 20,000 new homes, a £4.4 billion airport terminal, a metro system, two industrial zones, 14 new hospitals and 24 new schools.
Three museums, by Jean Nouvel, Foster & Partners and Frank Gehry, were thrown into doubt by last year’s comprehensive review of development projects. But this week’s announcement contained a new timeline for their completion.
The Louvre, Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim, part of the £17 billion cultural and tourism project on Saadiyat Island, were all meant to be completed by 2014. They are now due to open in 2015, 2016 and 2017 respectively.
A spokesman for Foster’s welcomed the news. And Phil Holden, managing director of Pascall & Watson, which is working for Jean Nouvel on the Louvre and completed a new campus at Zayed University in 2011, said: “For a long time the executive council has been silent regarding all projects so we see this as a very positive move”.
Two other museums by Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando were not included in the announcement. But there was good news for landscape architect Gustafson Porter whose plan for a visitor centre at the Hili archaeological site has been reignited. The desert project will now include a new national museum.
For a long time the executive council has been silent. We see this a very positive move.
Other green-lit schemes include North Wathba, a 13,150-home residential project; a further 7,608 luxury villas; the Midfield terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport; and six special-needs rehabilitation centres.
The news is not thought to have any implications for Austin-Smith Lord, which was taken to the brink of administration last year following long delays in payments by Abu Dhabi state clients.
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