He continues: “[We’re quite fortunate that] due to the various businesses that we're involved with, we can [explore how] we can add value to our clients.

“[For instance], there’s a lot of MEP [mechanical, electrical, and plumbing] services that are on the top of shopping centres in general, and when you have a look from height, they […] don’t look that good,” Taylor explains, adding that this led Emaar to conceptualise the idea of covering the roof.

He continues: “We suggested that [Emaar] incorporate solar [panels] into the roof covering, thereby generating power for the facility, [and] we managed to [propose the system] at a lower price than what conventional roofing would have cost. So it was a real value-add for everyone.

“A contractor has tremendous value that it can bring to the client. All that you need is […] to work very closely together, because we’re very much in tune with the latest products and innovations, and if we’re involved early enough, we can deliver that value to the client. The key is that this added-value is to be had upfront; often, it's too late to implement something because we haven’t been involved at an early-enough stage. So we believe that by having a contractor involved early in a project, there's tremendous value that can be had for all persons.

“In order to deliver value, there has to be trust that you're acting in the best interest of the project and […] the client, plus all the stakeholders. We're very fortunate on Dubai Hills Mall to have a project team that is pulling in the same direction. Everyone's objective on that project is to deliver it on time and budget, and deliver value. When you get that right, it is very powerful.”

Collaborate to innovate

This collaboration is visible not only on the project’s progress, but the efficiency of its construction team as well. In a statement earlier this month, Emaar revealed that structural work on Dubai Hills Mall is 60% complete, and that steel work is under way for its 18-screen cinema and a glass skylight. Work has also started on mock-ups for the mall’s façades, skylights, shopfronts, washrooms, and finishes. Equally interestingly, much of this work is proceeding in a ‘paperless’ model – Taylor reveals that team-wide collaboration has helped ALEC drive an initiative implemented to exclude its use of paper documentation for the scheme.

“An initiative was put in place [through which] we wanted to eliminate paper [usage],” he tells Construction Week.

READ: ALEC awarded main contract for Dubai Hills Mall project

“We thought it was going to be pretty difficult because [the industry is] used to sawing a forest in order to exchange documentation, but it was relatively simple. Everyone brought into it, and we adopted it at an early stage – from Day 1. It's been very successful.”

Taylor says a platform was created to facilitate documentation work, but more important than the right software to support such transformations, he explains, is to have “everyone’s buy-in” to change how tasks are typically performed.

“If we're looking at innovation, it is really about how you improve things,” Taylor says.

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