Providing shade for an outdoor entertainment park in Abu Dhabi is no simple undertaking.
By Mark Zeh
Over the last several years, Yas Island, one of the several hundred natural islands around Abu Dhabi City, has been developed into one of the world’s leading sporting and entertainment spots. Attractions on the 2,500-hectare (6,178 acres) island include a golf course, a complete motor racing complex, including the site of the Abu Dhabi Formula 1 Grand Prix, and a Ferrari World entertainment complex.
On Jan. 19, 2013, five days before the planned opening date for the Yas Waterworld waterpark, His Highness Sheikh Tahnoon bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Eastern Region, officially opened the park during a grand opening party. The giant emerati-themed waterpark is situated on 15 hectares (37 acres) adjacent to the Ferrari World complex. The entertainment park features 43 rides, several fast-food restaurants and shopping.
The design of an outdoor entertainment park in Abu Dhabi is no simple undertaking. Yas Island is located 24 degrees north of the equator, in a coastal desert. In the winter, the average daytime temperatures are quite mild—typically around 24° C (76°F). However, in July and August, the months with the most sunshine and highest sun angle, daytime highs can reach 49°C (121°F), with a relative humidity around 50%. This means that protection from the radiant heat of the sun is very important, especially if one wants to feel comfortable outdoors.
Sail shades and membrane roofs are ideal in this application, offering the cooling benefits of the wind, along with reflection, or absorption, of much of the solar gain. Another benefit of these types of light-scale structures is the relative speed with which space can be covered.
“We were awarded the Yas Waterworld project in December of 2011,” says Subramanian, one of Mister Shade’s designers for the project. “After we got the necessary clearances, onsite work began in July of 2012. And we completed the work (approximately 180,000 square meters) by December 2012.”
All of the water park shade structures were designed and installed by Mister Shade Ind. Co. LLC of Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, for Aldar Properties LLC, the developer of Yas Island. ALEC LLC was the main contractor for the project and W.S. Atkins & Partners Overseas were the consulting engineers for the project.
There is a multiplicity of sunshades and fabric structures in the park, including longer fabric span roofs in the car park and on the back house roof of the complex, a multitude of sail shades over the entrance, pools, staircases, walkways and play areas, and a large, funnel-type spray pad.
“We used Comshade knitted HDPE fabrics from Polyfab for the walkways, entrance, staircase, playing area and swimming pools,” explains Subramanian. “The spray pad, car parks, and back of house were covered with PVC, as these fabrics were required to be waterproof. The spray pad is one of the important structures in the park. It is a funnel-type fabric structure. Water from an all-around nozzle will be sprayed into the funnel structure.”
The mechanism for this consists of including water piping into the catenaries (sleeves) of the sails, then placing misting nozzles into the pipes at intervals. The effect of this is to cool the air and floor in the area around the spray pad.
“The entire complex is covered by about 18,000 square meters (194,000 square feet) of shade sails and membrane roofs,” says Brett Smuts, general manager, Polyfab Middle East LLC, “This is a good-sized project in the Middle East, but we’ve also done projects of over a million square meters.
“The desert environment of Abu Dhabi may seem extreme, but the UV levels here are not nearly as severe as they are in Australia, where we developed our fabrics,” Smuts says. “Additionally, the dust from the sand may possibly improve color longevity, since it blocks UV from sunlight. However, it is also relatively easy to clean away from HDPE, since HDPE does not suffer from stickiness caused by plasticizer migration, as with some PVC fabrics.“
Design of shade structures in Abu Dhabi is not simply a case of finding a fabric with appropriate shade factor, color and longevity: The Sun Reflectivity Index of shade fabrics used in Abu Dhabi is now part of the points system established to drive sustainable construction as part of the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council’s Estidama program (Estidama is the Arabic word for sustainability). The ESTIDAMA’s “RE-2: cool building strategy” section awards one point of a possible 6 for the section, for roofing materials having a solar reflective index of at least 78. Final selection of the colors and fabrics can now only be done after testing to these requirements.