With its image of floating orbs on Sheybarah Island, The Red Sea Development Company has created waves across the design world. Each overwater orb (villa) is elevated above the water’s surface, minimising the impact of the ground foundation, and features sliding doors that open to a deck, a seating space, and an infinity pool with unobstructed views of the sea and horizon.
Saudi Projects took the opportunity to visit the manufacturer of these orbs, Grankraft Industries LLC in Sharjah, to discover more about the design, construction and vision of this project, speaking with company director Yatindra Mudbidri.
“We got involved in the project when the design of the villas started, so we were involved with the architects and the structural engineers, ”Yatindra begins. “We geared up our input and were able to help the design to come to a stage where it could actually be constructed.”
“We are building about 73 of these villas, 38 of which will be in the Red Sea”
Reducing the Visual Impact
Sheybarah Island Resort on the Red Sea archipelago was designed by Killa Design in Dubai and comprises a series of overwater and inland villas. Located on the uninhabited Sheybarah Island, home to a highly diverse environment with mangroves, sandy beach, and some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world, it will house over 70 villas, as Yatindra explains: “We are building about 73 of these villas, 38 of which are over water . There will be a wooden boardwalk that connects all these water villas; the land access is through the boardwalk. The villas come in different sizes: one-bedroom (18-meter diameter), two-bedroom (22-meter diameter) and three bedroom (26-meter diameter). Each villa weighs approximately 120 tonnes.”
The approach to the façade design has been to reduce the visual impact with each villa having polished stainless steel cladding that reflects the sea, the sky, and the reef. This material is the key feature of the project, with Yatindra saying: “We are using two types of metals. One is for the structure, which is a steel structure (Marine Grade 316L), while the skin is stainless steel. The stainless steel, the raw material, is produced by Outokumpu in Finland, and we process the steel over here. It comes to us in sheets, and we have a process that starts with pre-polishing; we form the sheets and then we cut them to shape, and then another round of polishing. Then we put them together like a jigsaw puzzle.”
Sustainability is at the heart of Sheybarah Resort, which is designed to be a LEED Platinum
Of course, when people think of steel and water, one of the first thoughts is rust. As Yatindra says, though, this is well in hand at Sheybarah Resort. “There are three ways in which we can stop the stainless steel from rusting. If you look at the finish of the stainless steel, that plays an important role in producing anti-rust properties. We have chosen an extremely polished surface, and when you have this it repels dust, that is number one. The second thing is the stainless steel itself, which has anti-rusting properties. And third, very important, is periodic cleaning and maintenance.”
The manufacturing process being undertaken by Grankraft was created exclusively for this project and has never been utilised anywhere before
Plug n’ Play
Sustainability is at the heart of Sheybarah Island Resort, which is designed to be a LEED Platinum, off-grid, zero energy, and zero water development, powered by a centralized solar farm and supplied with fresh water from a solar-powered desalination plant. “Everything about this project is about sustainability, Yatindra says. “And the first thing has been, don’t build it in Sheybarah, because that goes against the principles of sustainability. So the solution we provided to the client is we build it here in Sharjah, where we take out all the possibilities of waste and disposal of waste. Secondly, we are using recyclable material and our stainless steel comes with very high recyclable content. The third thing revolves around Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), which create environmental problems. We are using systems that have VOCs that are within the limits required for LEED Platinum. And we’re doing it in Sharjah, so we’re not spoiling the environment on the Red Sea. The final thing is a very efficient transportation and placing methodology, which involves a lot less impact on the coral reefs. If you look at the whole ‘orbs’ project, it’s almost like plug n’ play, and over the lifecycle of the project, only 5-10% of the work is carried out on-site.”
Furthermore, the manufacturing process being undertaken by Grankraft was created exclusively for this project and has never been utilised anywhere before. Meanwhile, Mammoet, a global leader in engineered heavy lifting and transportation, has been tasked with transporting the prefabricated villas from Grankraft’s yard to the construction site and installing them on their foundations: on the beach and over water.
The Red Sea Development Company’s partners’ creativity in design and production is closely matched with the Saudi Vision 2030 aspirations, and this spectacular new resort really embodies the Kingdom’s tourist future.