Akey element of the wider Belfast Rapid Transit project, Colin Connect Transport Hub is a seriously impressive building. The technical excellence achieved by FORRME on the project isn’t something you come across every day and while the complexities associated with the build were certainly a challenge, they weren’t enough to faze the team at FORRME.
The completion of the Colin Connect Transport Hub is the first phase of the larger Colin Town Centre Masterplan, intended to create a dynamic and sustainable centre for the area. The project is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland and a worthy addition to FORRME’s already impressive portfolio. The Hub is now an integral part of the community, providing a service for the Belfast Rapid Transit (BRT) system and helping to transform Colin into a thriving urban village.
The new £2.4million Transport Hub in Colin comprises a reinforced concrete structure, internally clad in red board marked concrete and externally clad in Portugese granite. FORRME was tasked with the entire build package, from piling and granite works to curtain walling, surfacing, roofing and the internal fit-out. Conor Anderson, Contracts Manager at FORRME said,“This was a complex yet ultimately rewarding project to work on. The shape of the building presented a significant challenge as it curves and rises in various directions. Using flat granite panels to achieve a curved finish was difficult, as was achieving the exact finish internally. Normally when you’re pouring concrete, it’s never seen but we were working on the finished walls at the very beginning of the job. Getting the exact effect the client was looking for was difficult but we achieved it.”
A complex, intricate brief from the architects called for a collaborative approach from FORRME and the rest of the teams on the project. The company worked closely with the sub-contractors to ensure a high quality finish was achieved and to allow for the successful completion of the temporary works. “Temporary works formed a large part of this project. They were very complex and required serious collaboration on our part; some of the beams we were pouring were 250 tonnes. Obviously, health and safety was a major consideration and I’m happy to say we had no incidents on site.” To ensure the safety of all workers on site, a paving laying device, patented by a local kerbing subcontractor, was used to mechanically lay all paving within the civic square, thus minimising manual handling.
Although access wasn’t an issue, the site is located on the busy Stewartstown Road while its proximity to a busy junction was a further complexity for the FORRME team. “The site’s location was another challenge that we needed to consider. During the construction phase, we were also working alongside the client’s contractor who was responsible for the road upgrade works. Constant communication and a desire on both sides to deliver the best possible job allowed all teams to work together smoothly.”
Nothing about the Colin Town Transport Hub build was simple. “There were several challenging aspects with this project. Apart from the complex geometry required by the building’s curvature along with the complex temporary works, there was a lot of crane work required on site as nothing was ‘liftable’. Even the weather conditions presented a challenge. On the one hand we had cold weather which meant we couldn’t pour concrete at certain temperatures while on the other hand, the hot spell meant we couldn’t complete the concrete roof. So we were beaten in both directions!” Despite the numerous challenges, Colin Connect Transport Hub was completed on time, within budget and to the highest standards of workmanship.
Conor and the team at FORRME are proud of the finished product. “It was a lovely job to work on and it’s great to be associated with such a prestigious project. The sub- contractors must be commended for the superb job they did. The finish they achieved is unbelievable and you really have to see it to fully appreciate it.”
Hanna Mechanical installed the mechanical services including an underfloor heating system at the Colin Connect Transport Hub, which runs via a Hitachi ASHP (air sourced heat pump). The Hitachi system also provides VRF comfort cooling and heating to the offices in the facility.
Fresh air ventilation and extraction to the building is provided by a MVHR unit (mechanical ventilation with heat recovery), also installed by the company. Finally, a BMS controlsall the heating, cooling and building meters which can be accessed from Translinkcentral HQ.
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JP Corry showcased the company’s ability to work closely with suppliers and customers at the Colin Town Transport Hub project.
“We worked closely with Kingspan and Resistant Building Products to source and supply the Styrozone and multi-pro and MP XS boards specified for the project,” explained Owen Downie, Sales Co-ordinator at JP Corry. “We also utilised our own in-house civils team for the polyfelt geotextiles before utilising our extensive stocks to supply timber, plywood and other day-to-day materials.
“We also worked closely with the main contractor, Forrme Ltd, to co-ordinate deliveries direct to site.”
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With over 40 years’ industry experience, Cunningham Stone was the natural choice when it came to the external stonework job that was required at the new Colin Connect Transport Hub.
Although this was, for the most part, a straightforward granite cladding project, there were a couple of tricky elements.
“The timeline was quite tight; we were under pressure to complete our portion of the project to a strict deadline. The stones took longer to fit than we anticipated due to their size. They were 215mm wide so there’s actually very few square metres you can build in a day. We also fit all individually so it was a slow process,” said Alan Cunningham.
The Colin Connect Transport Hub is a modern, aesthetically pleasing curved building which also presented the teams involved in the build with a set of very specific challenges. “That curved element required a lot of detail. It may not seem like the building actually has much detail but in terms of soffits and other features, there are quite a few. This was a challenging yet rewarding project for us to work on and we’re delighted to have been involved in such an important project for Belfast.”