Open and close mobile menu


Insights What is the MANZEL Project and what does it mean for the Middle East?

The shortage of affordable housing in the Middle East isn’t a new challenge, and it’s not something confined to this corner of the globe. Enter MANZEL– a new way of thinking.

MANZEL is AtkinsRéalis ’s concept of ‘a home in a box’ and it reimagines the way citizen housing is delivered in the Middle East. Like EDAROTH - a subsidiary business of Atkins, a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group – the project delivers social and affordable housing, designed to help the region tackle the housing shortage.

Why are end-to-end development projects like these the answer to affordable housing? Because it’s a challenge sweeping across the world and it can only be solved through disruptive and innovative ideas.

Read on to learn more about MANZEL and what it means for the Middle East.

What is Project MANZEL?

MANZEL and EDAROTH are both focused on designing and constructing residential buildings in the locations where they are needed most. The project approaches construction by marrying design and engineering - the way it should always be done.

These latest ventures are also centred around inclusive and sustainable outcomes – factors that have rightfully earned a spot on the agenda for building developments in the Middle East. The UAE is now home to 869 green-rated buildings , placing the nation in the top 20 globally.

At its core, MANZEL is a connected data ecosystem that will boost productivity, reduce time and cost, improve quality and decrease carbon emissions. It ingests data from multiple contributors, feeding back insights and analytics. MANZEL will find alternatives, design and produce drawings and ultimately create a process that can become fully automated.

Take the T-9 Villa as a case study. These modular built villas use automated design so they can be enhanced in terms of finish - an upgrade of the floors and joinery, doors and kitchen - but the size and layout remains the same. Today, the T-9 villa can be delivered at a cost of 3,200 AED/sqm, in 15 months and at a scale of 50 villas per year. As the MANZEL delivery model evolves over the next five years, it will deliver the same T-9 villa for 2,240 AED/sqm in seven months and therefore increase the output to 2000 villas per year.

Why the Middle East needs projects like MANZEL

MANZEL is leading the transformation of the construction industry in the UAE, delivering a solution to the housing challenges that the nation and wider region are both facing. As part of their Emirati Housing Programme, the ministry in UAE previously stated they wanted 100% of nationals to own their own homes and have it within two years of signing the Loan Agreement. In the same vein, Vision 2030 outlines a Housing Program where 70% of Saudi nationals will own a home by 2030.

As the T-9 Villa case study highlights, using automated technology to design modular residential building can significantly reduce the design and construction phases.

What does this mean for the job market?

Consultancy firm, McKinsey & Company flag digitisation as one of the catalysts for the change the Middle East is eager to see – more women in the workplace. They report that by 2030, the number of women in professional and technical jobs will at least double . Projects like MANZEL will fuel the digital revolution in the Middle East, helping to create more jobs for women and men alike.

The MANZEL vision will ultimately provide higher skilled jobs in the construction sector. This will free up design teams – including design engineers and architectures - allowing them to devote their time, expertise and creativity to the design, life cycle performance and placemaking. As a result, these professionals, along with the procurement team, operations directors and managing directors, can all work together to maximise the impact of an asset while reinventing the supply chain as we know it today.

Our vision is for local people and local companies to have the materials and manufacturing technology they need to automate and create products unique to the housing requirements of their nation.

What are the challenges of this approach to housing?

One of the greatest challenges is showing the market the value of projects like MANZEL. In terms of the benefits of modular building, the writing is on the wall. However, the industry is still pushing for collaboration among key stakeholders and seeking partnerships.

Then there is the matter of supply chain readiness. The MANZEL business model turns supply chains up on their head, in a good way. It puts control in the hands of the customer, and not the property developer. This leads to another challenge, the question of whether customers are ready to embrace a new delivery model and product. In the absence of government buy-in, customers may be wary themselves. But, with more success stories surfacing each month, the future looks promising.

Are you ready for your next career move?

Atkins are a member of the AtkinsRéalis Group and we’re working with government and key real estate sector clients to help bring housing to the areas that need it the most. We’re looking for people who want to be a part of this housing revolution.

MANZEL is a delivery excellence hyper-productive engine that will disrupt and transform the way we think and deliver residential assets. So if you’re interested in joining us on this journey, we look forward to hearing from you.

Browse our current architecture jobs or view civil engineering roles to find your next design engineering job with the AtkinsRéalis Group.