Site visit: La Perle by Dragone, Dubai
fmME takes a look at the demanding nature of maintaining UAE’s only aquatic theatre, and the critical learnings taken by the team a year after it opened to the public
La Perle by Dragone is a one-of-a-kind aquatic show that takes place five nights a week at its purpose built theatre in Dubai’s Al Habtoor City. While performers dazzle on looking audiences, fmME is on a quest to understand the intricate facilities management (FM) operations that go on before and after each show.
Carrying out FM operations at a theatre-styled cinema isn’t a revolutionary concept thoug, it’s standard operations. But the unique nature of La Perle makes things slightly different.
Take for instance the pool in the centre of the 1,300-seater theatre that holds about 2.7 million litres of water at a depth of 5 metres. As part of the performance, the theatre simulates rain and the pool overflows to result in ankle deep level water across the stage. But due to its engineering it drains in a matter of 90 seconds.
While the stage itself has quick drainage technology, the surrounding areas still need to be cleaned manually. Before and after each performance cleaning crews ensure they dry the area close to the stage, and dispose of left over foods and rubbish left on the floor.
“We have two shows a night, which gives us a tight turnaround of the theatre between first and second show, so the team must work quickly and efficiently,” says Mohammad Hilwani Facility Manager at La Perle.
Deep cleaning and sanitation takes place every Sunday and Monday as no shows take place during these two days of the week. Cleaning teams thoroughly clean the theatre seats and offices within the building ensuring a healthier environment for staff and guests.
“The building is only a year old and most of the equipment is under warranty. We, however, have a contract with a third party for maintenance of our system, like those in the FLS (fire life safety systems), which is required to be carried out only by a government approved company. Maintenance is also carried out by our in house staff on AC equipment, drainage systems and water supply system,” Hilwani says.
A year into its operations Hilwani and his team have replaced certain bits of equipment used during the show, and a few electrical parts as well. “We have also removed and fixed some damaged seating parts and other consumables like AC filter and machines,” he says.
The theatre maintains dual air temperatures during the show - temperature around the pool area is set at 30oC, and the audience is seated at a temperature of around 21oC to 24oC. The water in the pool itself is maintained at 31oC. The 1oC difference is to prevent condensation from occurring on the stage, and subsequently the theatre.
Hilwani says: “One of the biggest learnings for us is maintaining the balance of temperature and humidity inside the theatre. The balance has to be perfect in order to protect the equipment, which is essentatal to the show. It also has to be at a comfortable temperature for not only the audience, but the artists too, who are emerging in and out of water. We are continuously monitoring the environment, basing our actions and preparation for the next day on its readings.”
Since water is an important feature of the show given its used throughout the acts, Hilwani and his team need to ensure its free from legionella and other harmful bacteria. Daily, weekly and monthly inspection of the water is recommended by the equipment manufacturers to ensure performers and audience remain healthy.
Poor water quality could result in performers getting all sorts of infections, amongst which an ear infection can be detrimental as it leads to loss of balance, Hilwani says.
“We are continuously monitoring the water chemistry of the pool on a daily basis to ensure that water is always safe for use and there are no bacterial growth. We also have our water throughout the whole building examined quarterly in a laboratory by a third party certified by DM, not just for legionella bacteria, but also for all others such as aerobic plate count and microbiology test,” Hilwani says.
Read the full feature in the September edition of fmME.