The project was designed by Acme, a London-based practice. Marsa Plaza is located in the centre of Al Mouj Quarter on the western edge of Muscat in Oman. It is conceived as the heart of the marina district, linking the main boulevard to the seafront promenade. It aims to be not just a gathering space for the local community, but also an amenity destination for Muscat’s visitors.
The levels of the square are stepped to bring the datum levels of the city closer to the water’s edge and to form a natural amphitheater around the central water feature. Two restaurants, each divided into three separate areas, are located behind metal shading screens – mashrabiya.
The screen patterns have been developed from traditional geometries and vernacular types. The pattern maximises shading depending on the screen angle and exposure, with variations in the grid to balance light and shade for each position, allowing for a pleasant microclimate inside and to reduce the need for climate control inside the spaces. The integration of the canopies, the landscape, and restaurants give the project a sense of formal unity with characteristics of classical European plazas combined with the shading and maze-like qualities that are typical of Middle Eastern places of gathering.
As a steelwork and facade contractor, Grankraft has executed 5,500m² of the mashrabiya inspired façade and canopies which protect the plaza and the glazed facades from the intense sunlight whilst maintaining open views out to sea.
Grankraft started to be involved with the project during the design stage. The original design was with a tubular steel structure, a GRC rhomboid roof, and façade panels which were generated with parametric design to respond to the shading needs.
Together with the designer, alternative cladding ideas were explored and through extensive engineering efforts from Grankraft, as well as samples and mock-ups, an aluminium cladding, instead of the GRC, was made possible. The canopies and walls were eventually made out of factory-assembled aluminium panels that, rather than being welded together, have been fixed through the use of hidden tensioned steel cables, giving them a seamless appearance.
This original design proposal was very heavy with the steel structure weighing approximately 1200MT and the GRC panels approximately 200kg/m2. The imposed reactions on the pile foundation were causing problems in the foundation design due to their proximity to the quay wall foundations of the breakwater retaining walls.
Grankraft optimised the steel structure to weigh 200MT, instead of the 1200MT of the original design, and re-engineered the wall and roof panels in structural aluminium maintaining the same aesthetic appearance as the GRC panels of the original design while weighing only 30kg/m2 (1/6 of GRC panels dead weight).
This overall reduction in weight resulted in a significant reduction in foundation reactions that allowed for cost-efficient open pad footings to be designed and constructed. The use of lightweight powder-coated aluminium panels minimises the need for maintenance and promotes longevity in the sometimes harsh marine conditions.
Grankraft is proud to have been part of this project and share the client’s satisfaction in what this project gives back to the community:
Nasser Al Sheibani, CEO, Al Mouj Muscat