A major landmark of the future is gradually rising from the desert in the Arabian peninsular, thanks to Derby engineering consultancy Rodgers Leask.
Using state of the art software the company has been working on the structural design for a massive headquarters building for a free zone – similar to a free port – located near Salalah in the Sultanate of Oman.
Salalah is the second city in Oman and seat of the governor of the southern province of Dhofar. It is the largest port in Oman and on the main East-West shipping lanes.
Rodgers Leask has been working on the project for three years, though building work only started a year ago.
The building will be the administrative centre for the free zone and will also house offices for investors to use while their development are taking place in what is a high income economy.
An official government building, it will have a rotunda seven storeys high and is already being predicted to be the most iconic building in the sultanate, employing several hundred people.
It will have extra security features and green credentials. It will have solar panels to turn the sun’s strong rays into energy and is designed to use the mass of the concrete to assist with stabilising the temperature.
Rodgers Leask has also designed warehousing as part of the scheme and been commissioned to produce a blueprint for a business centre.
Andy Leask, managing director of Rodgers Leask, has just returned from Oman on a first visit to see progress on the work, the biggest project abroad that the company has ever undertaken.
Andy went with a colleague from architects Stephen George and Partners from Leeds who are also involved on the £30m scheme.
“This was our first chance to see anything substantial emerging from the desert,” he said.”This is the first time we have done anything like this is a foreign country and in a desert environment.”
He said there was totally different regulatory framework to work in. The developers were so cautious about building on the rock beneath the sand that Rodgers Leask had to design the foundations significantly larger and more robust than would have been on a British site.
The building will also be elevated to avoid flooding from the wadis (watercourses) in the annual heavy rain period.
“The client is delighted with the building that they see starting to take shape,” said Andy.
“This has been a big challenge and learning curve for us which will give us an edge if we bid for any similar work in the area in the future.”
Rodgers Leask, based in Canal Street, is used to working on prestigious projects – one of its biggest scheme was a re-vamp of the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham, one of the busiest large-scale sporting and entertainment venues in Europe. Building work on that £21m project is almost complete.