Bridgewater | 5 Questions with Mariska Auret
This vibrant mixed-used development is located on the banks of the newly created Ratanga Park and it’s the way that the carefully created spaces and urban planning meet environmental sustainability that sets it apart. The unique design of each component within the development complements each other and its surrounds, specifically the contrast between them. The residential and hotel components overlook the water on the one side, the design ethos emanating from the houses on the canals in Amsterdam. The big corporate office block with its curved façade, connects with an existing building, Sable Corner across the road. An industrial element is brought in with the office studios and suites, which together with the apartments and hotel, create a sheltered courtyard.
It’s a development of contrasts, variety of views and uses, and its location that all work harmoniously together to shape a modern urban way of life.
2. Combining hotels, retail, residential and offices, together with a new water body is a complex development. What were the biggest challenges you experienced?
The most unique challenge is that essentially, it’s five different projects in one. Where usually we would develop a residential commercial and hotel separately, we had to shift our focus consistently. Whenever you went into a meeting or discussion, you had to carefully consider which “hat” you are wearing. The different ways of thinking between the operational nature of a hotel, the personal elements of residential, and the business side of the offices, all required a unique angle.
What’s more is that we also had to consider how the various end-users use these spaces, as well as how the public participates in the open spaces around building. We have walkways between the buildings and the water park, entry into the basement and pedestrian access into the courtyard and how people flow between the different areas.
3. Being located in Century City, what are some of the smart city considerations you applied on this development?
In terms of Century City’s Smart Environmental Sustainability segment, we have achieved a 4-star Design rating which complies with all the criteria of achieving this. It includes energy efficiency, double glazing and so forth. Achieving this rating is also in line with Rabie’s environmental commitment and vision to develop the largest assembly of green buildings in one precinct.
We have introduced several other Smart Security & Safety features such as each apartment being equipped with a visual intercom system, which has eight camera views. In addition, the lobby doors and lifts are access controlled. The exterior has several cameras monitoring the perimeter, which are linked directly to the Century City Security Operations Centre. In terms of Smart Connectivity & Communication, free wifi zones will be rolled out in the public spaces and Ratanga Park. We have Fibre-to-the-home in all the apartments and fibre in all the offices. Our pay on foot system in the basement is payable by QR code, which allows a touchless parking experience and an easy and efficient exit as you don’t have to hassle at the payment station. Other elements include smart electricity meters and heat pumps in the apartments (versus geysers)
4. There is an increase of micro apartments and a simultaneous trend of people wanting larger homes, due to the fact that they work more from home, either permanently or periodically. Where do you see the future of the apartment going in a new urban environment such as Century City?
The immediate and long -term needs in apartment accommodation are forever changing and as Rabie, we must be ready to respond and adapt to what the market wants. I think there is a place in the market for micro apartments, but they do not work everywhere and are very location specific. The market has been flooded of late and I believe that it will be saturated soon, if not already. We have included a limited number of studio apartments in the Bridgewater development, as we believe they are a great “longer stay” offering, complementary to our hotels and existing conference facilities. The Bridgeways precinct is fast becoming the business hub of Century City and the studio apartments offer great value to the hospitality offering.
We have received a good response (sold out) to these limited micro units, and even though we would not necessarily increase the number of such units we offer in the next development, we might just have to introduce new and improved versions when we expand along the banks of the new Ratanga Park.
5. Bridgewater is just the start of the Ratanga Park family of developments. Can you give us a glimpse of what lies ahead for this mini-precinct?
One the of the most exciting parts is of course Ratanga Park, which is being completed in two phases. We cannot wait for when the entire park is completed, which will include ample green spaces, beautiful landscaping and of course the allure and magnificence of the water body.
The vision for the new Ratanga precinct is a ring of buildings on the perimeter, “hugging” Ratanga Park as it were. All the developments in some way will be looking over Ratanga Park. We’re planning more residential blocks, which include Oasis Life Century City, an urban luxury retirement development. We will phase Oasis Life with five stand-alone blocks, each with their own identity.