A’Raya Complex is a mixed-use development located in the Ministries District of Muscat, Oman. Developed by the government-owned company ASAAS, the complex offers a unique combination of amenities and services, including a 3-star hotel, a shopping center, and the new headquarters of the Royal Academy of Management. This amazing structure is designed to enhance the area’s appeal as a destination for business and leisure, providing a range of facilities and services for visitors and locals alike. The exterior design of the complex features modern architecture and striking contemporary elements, creating a visually stunning landmark in the heart of Muscat.
Our team worked closely with the developers at ASAAS to bring their vision to life, creating a series of stunning 3D renders that captured the essence of the A’raya Complex. From the sleek modern lines of the hotel and shopping center to the striking design of the Royal Academy of Management’s new headquarters, our 3D visualization allowed the developers to showcase the project’s full potential and gain the necessary approvals to move forward with construction.
Now, let’s discover this groundbreaking project which we did in 2020 and the story behind its 3D rendering process.
Situated in one of the most prominent location in Muscat, A’Raya Complex has easy access to the main road and surrounded by the Ministries area. The complex comprises three main sections: a 3-star hotel, a shopping center, and the new headquarters of the Royal Academy of Management.
The hotel is operated by Deutsche Hospitality under the InterCity brand, and offers a range of amenities and services to guests, including comfortable accommodations, conference facilities, and dining options. And the shopping center is designed to cater to the needs of the local community, with a variety of retail outlets and dining options. The center is located on the ground floor of the complex, with easy access from the main road, and offers a range of shopping experiences for visitors. At last, the new headquarters of the Royal Academy of Management is another key feature of the A’Raya Complex. The academy is dedicated to providing world-class management education and training to students and professionals, and the new facility will provide state-of-the-art classrooms, lecture halls, and other facilities to support their mission.
As to the design, the vision is to create a destination where Omanis will eager to go and spend time in order to not only satisfy their retail needs but also to enjoy leisure time and be entertained. In order to achieve this, the architect creates an experience akin to being in a lush green Oasis but with a tempered climate below a shaded canopy. The canopy sits above the retail courtyard is an iconic architectural statement as well as a highly functional intervention for climatic environmental control.
A’Raya & 3D Rendering Services
The A’raya Complex is a true testament to the power of 3D visualization in the architectural industry. By leveraging cutting-edge technology and advanced design techniques, we were able to create photorealistic representation of the complex that helped to inspire and engage stakeholders, investors, and the wider community. We are proud to have played a role in the development of this landmark project, and we look forward to seeing the A’raya Complex become a shining example of Oman’s growing real estate sector.
Now, we will separate the process of making 3D renders for A’Raya one by one.
Kick-off Meeting and the Brief
There is not always a kick-off meeting before a 3D architectural rendering project start. The purpose of a kick-off meeting is to bring both parties together and establish a shared understanding of the project goals, timelines, expectations, and deliverables. As long as the above aspects are clear to both sides, there is no need to have an actual meeting.
For this project, ASSAS has prepared various information about this project. And in the meeting, they were presented one by one to communicate their vision and requirements. Meanwhile, our 3D team offered suggestions and recommendations based on our expertise. At the same time, any concerns and questions were raised to ensure the final delivery meet our client’s needs and expectations.
In all, we know about A’Raya before the production started in the following aspects:
- A project presentation slides. In the slides, we learnt the vision of the project, including the cultural background, location, the design, the surrounding environment, and other aspects regarding the project.
- A Revit model. Although the model was not completed, it still gave our team a general idea of the project.
- Design plans. Including site plans, elevations, floor plans, landscape plans, section plans. These design plans are essential tools for our 3D team to understand the project more deeply.
- Other design details. Such as façade lighting designs, exterior envelope design, and material board.
- Scope of the work. ASSAS were looking for a series of renders and an animation to present this project. In the initial stage, we agreed to create 13 still images and a one-and half-minute animation.
Once we’ve organized the project information, the next stage was around the corner. We’ll divide the process into 3D still images and 3D animation.
3D Renders of A’Raya
#Stage 1: 3D Modeling
Although Revit has basic rendering capabilities, using professional rendering software like Autodesk 3ds Max can offer more advanced and flexible rendering options. 3ds Max supports advanced rendering techniques such as global illumination, caustics, volumetric lighting, and complex material creation. These tools can create more realistic and detailed visual effects. For this reason, our 3D modeler input the Revit model into 3ds Max. This means we’ll need to take care the model again in 3ds Max.
The other thing to pay attention to is to check for errors. Importing a Revit model may result in messy lines, overlapping geometry, missing materials or other issues. Here is when our 3D modeler comes to stage. The 3D model drafts we shared are as below:
Of course, our client had their opinions on the model, including some minor design changes. They came back with some comments, including:
- Add MEP equipment for a substation;
- Update some of the roof design;
- Add louvers to the hotel windows;
- Adjust some fences.
Their comments are clear, with references attached. This greatly helped our 3D artists to deliver their vision and exceed their expectation. After some corrections, it was time to move to next stage.
#Stage 2: Materials, Textures, Lighting and Post-production
In some 3D rendering projects, this stage is usually divided into several steps. The reason to do this is to guarantee that each stage is on the right track. For example, we share texture drafts to confirm with clients the materials are all accurate and realistic. However, for ASSAS, we share the drafts with materials, lighting, and even post-production. This is because we’ve collaborated many times in the past years and our 3D team know their tastes. This makes the 3D rendering process easier.
This structure uses reinforced concrete frame and slabs cast in-situ with hollow concrete block infill, textured plaster rendering of façades. As for the canopy, which is an iconic architectural statement as well as a highly functional intervention for climatic environmental control, has two overlapping geometric patterns. These features would be perfected presented with our 3D renders with realistic material and smart lighting.
The First Round Drafts
Thus, our 3D artists created realistic scenes for this future structure and shared with our client. The first round of colored drafts are as below:
ASSAS team replied with their comments for these views. In general, there were some adjustments they hoped to do:
- Change the color contrast for the canopy in aerial views;
- Add water fountain;
- Add digital screens in the front of the entrance;
- Make surrounding buildings slightly lighter;
- Add Intercity logo and Oman national flags;
- Lit up some of the inner spaces;
- Try different sky with more dramatic effect;
- More people shopping in the shopping spaces.
After correcting all views, we shared the updated views again. This time, only a couple of comments await.
The Second Round Drafts
This time, we’re asked to make some minor adjustments on the signage and landscape, namely:
- Make Omani flag stand out more;
- Use reverse colors for InterCity flag;
- Remove all car plate numbers;
- Add some local taxis and public transport. References were provided.
The 3D specialists refined all the requested corrections. Our client approved them and were ready to get the final results!
Next, the 3D artists rendered all views in 6k and 7k resolution to get the best-possible results.
#Stage 3: Final Delivery
To be honest, a couple of the images were delivered during the project process because our client needed them to report urgently. But here we’ve collected all 13 views for your enjoyment.
3D Animation of A’Raya
To maximize the efficiency, our art direct started the project with a 3D still image team and a 3D animation team. Two teams work simultaneously and interactively to achieve the best result. The primary challenge was to showcase both the exterior and interior features of this mixed-use in an engaging and immersive way. And our object was to demonstrate the structure’s modern design, the lively atmosphere of retail space, and the welcoming atmosphere of the building as a whole.
To start, we sorted the camera path and story board our client wanted. The ideal fly-through would:
- Start from Muscat city level, which is a huge aerial view;
- Introduce master plan with sea background and surrounding context;
- Approach project from near existing roundabout;
- Enter the premises from the main retail entrance gate;
- Introduce the inner spaces including central plaza basement and retails;
- Followed by the hotel experience including arriving area, lobby, restaurants, meeting rooms, swimming pool, ballroom and guestrooms;
- Showcase the office with lobby, public spaces, and rooms;
- Finally end with central plaza and zoom out the view.
Our 3D animation team was excited to see such a professional camera path, let along attached references of story boards. However, to conclude all the above contents in 90 seconds was quite challenging. Therefore, the team started immediately to see how it went.
#Stage 1: 3D Model Refinement
The 3D model for still images were not good enough for animation. To be specific, the 3D model for an architectural animation should be perfect from all perspectives. As a result, our 3D modeler started to refine the model, especially the ones could not be seen in the still images.
After the model was ready, our 3D animator put the model in the scene and started to compose the fly-through draft.
#Stage 2: Camera Path Confirmation
What our 3D animator did was basically build the structure for this animation. This structure would strictly follow the camera path our client shared. In this stage, the building in the scene was still white model. Thus, the aim of this stage was to confirm the camera path only.
When doing this, our team had confronted with the biggest challenge in this project: the time duration was not enough to show all. Per our client, there were indeed tons of contents to show in this animation. After an internal team meeting between the 3D animators, art director, and project manager, we decided to tell our client about this. Of course, we came up with our suggestion as well. That was, to extend the animation to 120 seconds.
At last, the proposal was accepted. By skipping a couple of scenes, we rearranged the animation with smoothing and pleasant pace.
#Stage 3: Key Frames
Once the camera path was confirmed, the whole team proceeded with coloring the scene. This included applying textures, colors, setting lighting, and add people, cars and other objects. When finishing these steps, some key frames would be screenshot and shared with clients to confirm. This is a crucial part of the whole 3D animation process.
#Stage 4: Rendering, Motion Graphics, Post-production and Final Delivery
After two review rounds, the rendered scenes were all good to go. There was not much motion graphics in this animation because it is a peopleless fly-through that aims to demonstrate the building only.
Now, let’s enjoy this incredible structure in this 3D animation!
AIMIR is more than excited to work with ASSAS to create visuals for this incredible project. Here is the official site for A’Raya: http://araya.om/ and the mixed-use was officially opened on November 2022. Real estate professionals often use 3D rendering services before construction begins. They can get a more accurate and realistic representation of what the project will look like when finishing. At the same time, 3D visuals help to identify potential issues or design flaws early which in turn saves time and money.
Looking for reliable 3D architectural visualization services in Saudi Arabia and Oman? Need 3D rendering services for your real estate business? Contact our project manager to get a free proposal in 12 hours and let’s collaborate to make your project shine!