Great Patrick Street Student Accommodation

The time pressures facing contractors on today’s projects was clearly illustrated by Gilbert-Ash on the Great Patrick Street Student Accommodation project. The impressive 474-bedroom student accommodation scheme at 28-30 Great Patrick Street in Belfast is part of an overall investment of £37million in the city. The design and build contract is worth £22million to Gilbert-Ash and the project has been developed by Olympian Homes and operated by Student Roost.

For Gilbert-Ash, the company’s professionalism in terms of planning ahead for a project was put to the test by a strict schedule and immovable completion date. In a perfect synergy, the two week period before and after the project was awarded and then handed over proved critical.

“Two weeks after signing the contracts we started driving the first piles on site,” John Davis, Project Director, explained. “We had a challenging programme of works, with little or no room for slippage, so we had to move as quickly as possible.

“Throughout the project we always had August 20 as our final competition date. That couldn’t change so every decision we made was centred around meeting that. We met the completion date exactly, and just two weeks after we handed over the project the first students moved in.”

With these time constraints in place, every detail was important and Gilbert-Ash utilised the company’s extensive, award- winning experience on major contracts to good effect.

Like many Northern Ireland companies, Gilbert-Ash reacted to the downturn in Northern Ireland construction by focusing on projects in Great Britain. As a result, this project, along with the new AC Marriott Hotel at City Quays in Belfast, represented the company’s first significant work in Northern Ireland for a number of years.

Having already successfully completed a number of student accommodation projects in Great Britain, Gilbert-Ash was able to put this experience to good use in Belfast, with off-site construction techniques and co- ordinated planning key aspects of a detailed approach.

The use of service templates during the concrete pour as well as the decision to install pre- fabricated bathroom pods are perfect examples of this.

“The bathroom pods were manufactured in Hull and shipped over in bulk,” added John. “Everything was agreed by the client, so we had to simply co-ordinate the services. For this aspect of the project, we created templates for the service ducts during the concrete pour, which proved a safer method and more time-effective.

“This was part of our planning around the bathroom pods arriving on site alongside the pod manufacturer and the M&E contractor, Irwin M&E. It was a more straightforward process that meant we had to connect the water pipes and then build the walls around them. It eradicated the first and second fix stages and with over 470 en suite bathrooms to install it proved critical to keeping the project on track.”

The new student accommodation has been finished to a high standard and as well as the 474 bedrooms across 11 floors the facility includes common areas, study rooms, a laundry and a gym. The rooms are in clusters of four to six bedrooms, with each cluster having shared kitchen and living space.

The building is a concrete frame with flat slab concrete construction and includes aluminium windows and curtain walling. The brickwork has been installed in 9 inch reveals instead of usual four inch around the windows, which added an additional challenge.

The site fronts onto Great Patrick Street and is designed around a central courtyard which was utilised during the construction process, housing the tower crane and concrete pump as well as the goods hoist to despatch products to the required floor.

“Belfast has been changing significantly in recent years and, with our work at Great Patrick Street and at the AC Marriott we are delighted to have been able to play our part in this transformation,” added John.

“We are set to commence work with Olympian Homes on another student accommodation soon, so we’re looking forward to continuing working in Belfast.”


Gilbert-Ash, 47 Boucher Road, Belfast, BT12 6HR
T: 028 9066 4334 – E: [email protected]
W: www.gilbert-ash.co.uk

Sub Contractors

Holmes Interiors showcased the company’s ability to deliver bespoke designs on a large scale with the company’s largest ever commercial project. For the Great Patrick Street Student Accommodation project, the company manufactured a bespoke range of kitchens, bedrooms, reception desks and additional items such as floating shelves.

Seamus Holmes, Managing Director, explained, “We worked very closely with the design team to fit in with what they wanted to achieve on this project. Working from the original designs, we provided the client with a range of samples, giving them an opportunity to see, first hand, what we had created and, more importantly, allowing them to make changes at that early stage.”

This proved crucial as the three- month turnaround on site offered a massive challenge for the team. “From the outset, we knew we had a strict deadline to meet and our team excelled in rising to this significant challenge and finishing on time,” added Seamus. “This was our largest commercial project to date and it wasn’t without its challenges but we proved we are more than a match for this sector.

“We are proud to be involved in such a landmark project in Belfast and we look forward to building on this success.”

Holmes Interiors has already forged a strong reputation for quality within the residential sector and this expertise is matched on commercial projects. “I have worked in the industry for over 13 years and since we set up Holmes Interiors four years ago it has continued to steadily grow,” he added “We work closely with clients to meet their expectations and create well designed, practical and stylish solutions. Our ability to mock-up solutions is popular with architects and their clients and this is complemented by our design and manufacturing expertise.”

The company’s expansion has continued with the opening of a new showroom at Derriaghy Industrial Park which will allow the company to showcase its wide range of residential and commercial solutions.


Holmes Interiors, Unit 32 Derriaghy Industrial Park, Dunmurry
E: [email protected]
W: www.holmes-interiors.com

Irwin M&E enjoyed the opportunity to utilise the company’s experience in student accommodation on a project in Northern Ireland with this work at Great Patrick Street.

The mechanical, electrical and integrated FM specialist has worked on student accommodation projects in Great Britain but Great Patrick Street provided the first opportunity to demonstrate this a little closer to home.

Chris Adams, Contracts Director, commented, “We enjoyed working closely on this challenging design and build project with the team at main contractor, Gilbert-Ash. After completing similar projects like this in Great Britain, it was great to be able to showcase that experience in Northern Ireland and I think it perfectly reflects the high standards that we bring to all our work.”

The focus of the M&E installation at Great Patrick Street Student Accommodation was energy efficiency. Irwin M&E installed gas-fired boilers for the LTHW and gas-fired hot water heaters for the hot water. The company also installed fan coil units in the communal spaces offering heating and cooling as well as specialist systems such as a car park smoke extract system, BMS and dry riser.

From an electrical perspective, a complete power and distribution solution was provided and service space was kept to a minimum by utilising a rising busbar system through the building to distribute power to each floor. LED lighting was installed throughout, with all public and circulation spaces controlled by automatic PIR detection. Full Category L1 fire alarm, disabled refuge, CCTV and door intercom systems were installed and commissioned for the safety and security of the students and staff.

TV and data distribution was provided to every en suite bedroom, studio and cluster kitchen, with HDMI provision also included within the studio rooms.

A full structured cabling system was provided throughout all core and circulation areas to allow the client’s I.T. provider to install a WIFI system, providing full coverage to the entire building. Irwin M&E appointed Caldwell Consulting to work with the company on the design aspect. Chris added. “The co-operation on this venture was superb and meant that it ran smoothly. Everyone pulled in the same direction and it made all the difference, on what was a tight schedule, to get the project completed.”


Irwin M&E, Unit 4 Diviny Drive, Carn, Portadown, BT63 5WE
T: 028 3839 7990
E: [email protected]
W: www.irwinm-e.com

The biggest challenge was the installation of the façade panels on one elevation, due to an adjoining building.

Barry Mairs, Managing Director, explained, “Installation of the Trimoterm façade panels was relatively easy as the system is designed for ease of use. Getting them to the wall was the challenging part. Working closely with Gilbert-Ash, a cantilevered scaffolding system was created that allowed GBS Roofing to carefully lower each quarter tonne façade panel from the top of the building.”

As an authorised installer, GBS Roofing also worked closely with Sika on the design and technical requirements of the Sika-Trocal ‘S’ mechanically fastened system used on the roof. The final element of the company’s work was the waterproofing to the courtyard area. The Alumasc Hydrotech hot melt system was used to provide a waterproofed base for this area to be landscaped.


GBS Roofing Limited, 12 Plasketts Close, Kilbegs Business Park, Antrim, BT41 4LY
T: 028 9042 2555
E: [email protected]
W: www.gbsroofing.co.uk

Sika worked closely with GBS Roofing to appraise the various roof details and the time constraints associated with this project.

The Sika-Trocal ‘S’ mechanically fastened system was selected as the best solution due to its versatility, speed of installation, cost effectiveness and, most importantly, its proven performance. Sika-Trocal has been extensively installed in the UK and Ireland for over 45 years.

A global market leader producing quality materials for the construction industry, Sika founded in 1910, has operations in 101 countries and employs 18,000 people. It is Sika’s belief, through its longstanding presence in the market place, that quality materials, competent technical advice, quality installation by contractors trained in Sika’s systems, and expert site assistance are the keys to a successful project.

With over 12 different single ply membrane types and over 6 different liquid membrane formulations available for specifiers, as far as zero flame roofing material manufacturers go, Sika boasts the most comprehensive list of offerings within this sector of the marketplace.


T: 028 9336 5868
E: [email protected]
W: www.sika.ie

The extensive plastering throughout the Great Patrick Street Student Accommodation was carried out by the experienced team from MKM Contracts.

Completing the plastering across all 11 floors of the impressive new facility, MKM Plastering worked closely with Gilbert-Ash to co-ordinate the job and ensure it ran smoothly.

Ailish McAtamney, MKM Plastering, explained, “The sheer volume of the work that had to be completed was the biggest challenge of this project but we have a lot of experience in ensuring that everything ran to the specific project targets to ensure the smooth progress of mutual development goals.”

As plastering and floor screed specialists with over 30 years’ experience, MKM offers wide variations of plastering services, including lath and lime renders; Krend; EWI insulated systems, all coloured renders, acrylic renders, traditional renders; floor screeds, dry lining, metal partitions and plaster boarding.


MKM Contracts, 94 Killygullib Road, Maghera, BT46 5QL
T: 07966 551 965 – 07427154670 – 028 3853 0351
W: www.mkmcontracts.co.uk

The combined solution from CB Contracts (NI) Ltd was utilised to the full at the Great Patrick Street Student Accommodation.

It marks yet another student accommodation that the company has successfully completed in Belfast in 2018, and the success of the Great Patrick Street project has contributed to the excellent working relationship with Gilbert-Ash.

Colin Bunting, Commercial Director, CB Contracts, said, “We carried out the flooring, painting and hygienic cladding on this project and we wish to congratulate the whole Gilbert-Ash and CB Contracts site teams on their work to get this project handed over on time during a very busy summer period.”

As a leading painting, flooring and hygienic finishes contractor, CB Contracts can tender for all contracts either as a combined package or as separate services. Regardless, clients receive the same high standards and attention to detail.


CB Contracts (NI) Ltd, Unit B1, 52 Syndenham Business Park, 19 Heron Road, Belfast.
T: 028 9073 2926
E: [email protected]
W: www.cbcontracts.com

Detailed planning ensured a smooth construction process for the expert team from M.R. Concrete on the Great Patrick Street Student Accommodation project.

The leading formwork contractor specialises in reinforced concrete substructure and superstructure work and, at Great Patrick Street, M.R. Concrete provided and operated the tower crane as well as being involved in the formwork, fixing reinforcement, concrete pumping and finishing.

Bernard Farren, Quantity Surveyor, M.R. Concrete, said, “Programme was key and the site was restricted space wise for deliveries and storage. We developed a detailed programme alongside the management team of Gilbert-Ash and that worked perfectly, as we completed the frame earlier that originally programmed by the main contractor.”

This project reflects the complex nature of work regularly carried out by M.R. Concrete. The company is currently working on another 11-storey student accommodation in Belfast as well as an 7-storey office development, also in the city. Current work in Dublin includes an apartment scheme, a hotel while M.R. Concrete is also involved in basement and superstructure works on a new hotel development in London.


M.R. Concrete Ltd, 154 Ardanlee, Culmore Road, Derry, BT48 8RT
T: 00353 74 9320790
W: www.mrconcreteltd.com

This included the fitting of door sets incorporating the frame, stop, door, ironmongery, signage/ numbering and seals. The team also installed the skirting, architraves, mirrors, notice boards, coat hooks, and student letter boxes throughout the facility.

Overall, J and N Joinery was responsible for over 1,500 door sets – which was approximately 150 doors and sets per floor – with various dimensions and ironmongery combinations.

Norman Coffey, Director at J&N Joinery Ltd, said, “The biggest challenge for us was the distribution of the doors and their sundries throughout the building across all the floors. However, there was great co- ordination and communication between the main contractor, Gilert-Ash, and ourselves that pretty much ensured this all ran smoothly.”


J and N Joinery Ltd, 9 Hazelbank Drive, Kilkeel, Newry, BT34 4WG
T: 07845 048275
E: [email protected]