Case Study: Zahia City Centre



Public Art / Retail


Aluminium / Mild Steel




  • Location Dubai, UAE
  • Client Majid Al Futtaim
  • Design Architect Callison RTKL
  • Engineer Khatib Alami
  • Main Contractor CCC
  • Status Completed - 2021

Developed by Majid Al Futtaim, designed by Callison RTKL/Khatib Alami and inspired by the Sharjah Light Festival, the lantern shaped Al Zahia City Centre is the largest mall in the Northern Emirates within the UAE and features over 360 brands, including a 16-screen VOX Cinema multiplex’ and a 2,350m² family entertainment destination. The cost of the project is 350 million dollars, and the total area is 183,505m².

The project design considered energy efficiency and outdoor/indoor comfort levels for future occupants, with both passive and active design measures and optimised natural daylight consideration achieving a LEED Gold rating.

The mall has partnered with the University of Sharjah and the American University of Sharjah, with students from both institutions and faculty members offering lectures and workshops on architecture, photography, filmmaking, and art making it a perfect project in line with Grankraft’s core values to protect the environment and give back to the community.

CGI of original concept

CGI of original concept


Grankraft’s Involvement

The key feature of the main entrance to the mall is the 140 meter-long and 46 meter-wide free-form canopy, which provides sufficient shading to the drop off area. Grankraft was consulted by the design team during value engineering to carry out design optimisation of the canopy structure. Through finite element analysis the design of the tree-shaped columns which support the 1,200-ton roof was optimised by Grankraft to achieve a weight saving of 30%. Whilst the geometry of the individual components of the roof are standardized box sections of 600x200x12 mm the design of the columns consists of circular profiles with varying radii to emphasise the design concept of tree branches.

Our systematic design approach and use of the latest 3D software, including various BIM packages, has improved construction time, and also guaranteed to achieve the high precision required due to the structure’s interface with the main building. The use of Grasshopper and parametric software also allowed to substantially reduce the number of fabrication drawings and operations due to its compatibility with the fabrication software.

The concept of the temporary structure was fully modelled and sequenced to support the structure during construction, which allowed the reduction of the structural members. Positions and welding points were closely coordinated to ensure that there would be no lasting impact on the visual appearance of the permanent works.

The metal canopy was produced at Grankraft’s facilities following a high-quality control process. The different elements were fabricated to the suitable sizes based on the limitations of the transport and then welded on site. The perforated aluminium panels of the canopy were also manufactured in our facilities and were then mechanically fixed to the tubular mild steel frames.

As built photograph

As built photograph


Strategy + Design Engineering

  • Use of Direct analysis to remove the k factors based on alignment charts.
  • Members were strengthened locally at the connection points.
  • ASCE 07-2005 code is used for loads and load combinations.

The steel framework was optimised in terms of the number of connection points, the diameter of the steel tubes and the total weight was reduced from 1064 to 382 tons which directly translated into cost and time savings for the client, contractors, and fabricators. The design optimisation of the tree canopy carried out by Grankraft also achieved, as a consequence of the reduced weight, the reduction of the foundation reaction loads which allowed a simplification of the foundation design as well.

Considering the complex geometry and to achieve a coordination of trades, the BIM implementation with Tekla was fundamental to successfully delivering this structure. BOQ reports, comparison reports, RFI reports, design coordination and clash detection were some of the key advantages using BIM.

During the construction phase, a 4D construction model was built to improve cost monitoring and member marking for tracking of fabrication and to improve site logistics during installation, all of which allowed to deliver the works on schedule. Our engineering team carried out all works in Grasshopper and delivered the engineering deliverables in BIM360. For more detailed information see the case study here.

Through our collaborative approach, Grankraft has provided extensive support in order to assist the main contractor in resolving on site issues.

1064 Tonne

As built photograph



  • 65% reduction in tonnage achieved from the concept model
  • Due to the reduction in reactions, there was a considerable reduction in pedestal sizes and subsequent beams below.

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