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What if your project pushes all technical boundaries

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The November event of APMHK entitled “Building the Unknown” was held as usual at the Wharney Guang Dong Hotel, Wan Chai on 15th November 2016.  The event was about the huge technical challenges faced by the professional team when working on the House of Dancing Water and the MGM Cotai resorts in Macau.  The interesting presentation was delivered by Mr Theuns van Niekerk, the former Deputy Project Executive Director for MGM Cotai and the House of Dancing Water in Macau.  It was well attended by 23 members and guests.

He specialises in directing fast-track projects where the design phase overlaps with the construction phase to ensure the project is completed in the fastest possible timeline. Theuns worked in different projects from Shaw Studios to high security jewellery manufacturing plants and to civil engineering and construction.  He also completed a number of complex and high profile IT related projects in the States.

As deputy project executive director on the MGM Cotai Gaming & Entertainment Resort, Theuns was able to deliver the purpose-built theatre for the House of Dancing and overcome many “behind the scenes” challenges.  Examples are some specifics around the VVVIP Mansion, Gaming Fit Out, Fit-For-Purpose Validation and a long span diagrid skylight roof. In the presentation he adequately addressed a number of these issues.

The theatre is designed with many breakthroughs, including a 10-metre deep stage pool with 17 million litres of water, equivalent to five Olympic-sized swimming pools.  To begin, Theuns stressed the importance of planning of a project and planning the right things in particular.  Focus should be placed to the customers and the works being fit for purpose.  After five years in development and US$250 million spent to create “The House of Dancing Water” in the City of Dream, Macau the stated objectives of the project are to create never-seen-before record breaking acts in a theatre.  The shows will last at least ten years.  The state-of-the-art theatre can accommodate new acts as the show evolves over time.  

In creating the concept, Theuns highlighted the Big Blocks and the Big Issues to be resolved in the first instance.  The designs of the spectators sitting and staging area, flying deck, performance space, water level and the storage tank were illustrated at the presentation.  Some critical issues were identified and resolved.  Examples were the pool water capacity and how to shorten the pool refill and water heating cycle time.  Others included the foundation strategy, construction sequence and plan for changes.  Further, Theuns compared the rationalisation with the optimisation of design, the selective over design against no over design.  The former can be coordinated in time and reduce risk of late information to contractors, the latter results in different design disciplines being never in sync and additional costs in delays and late information.      

Finally, Thuens introduced the fast track plan for any design changes.  Instead of going through the conventional way of interior reviews and functionality reviews to design changes, the fast track process which plans for changes concurrently enables design changes to proceed with the construction details via the design development. This can avoid project slippage if changes are well planned in advance.   

Does The House of Dancing Water achieve fit for purpose? one may provide an answer if the show thereof can last for at least ten years, among other criteria.


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