Co-ordinating multiple deliveries and contractors in a tight city centre site was among challenges faced by the main contractor leading construction of room2 Belfast. Northern Ireland’s first ‘hometel’, a variation of the aparthotel concept evoking home comforts, was developed by Oakland Holdings for room2 brand owner, the Lamington Group. Ganson Building and Civil Engineering Contractors Ltd commenced work on the project in 2021, after winning a single-stage tender for the £15m contract to design and build the hometel with a turnkey finish. Opened in October 2023, room2 Belfast features 175 rooms – most with kitchenettes – and a café, tearoom, restaurant, lounge, bar, meeting and event spaces, and gym over nine floors. The fourth and largest room2 property and its first outside England, the Belfast site represents a total investment of £20m by the eco-conscious real estate company. The site was previously occupied by the Audio Times Building, later known as Lyndon Court, a three-storey structure of retail units and office space designed by Barrie Todd Associates and built over 1986 to 1987.
After redevelopment attempts by another firm failed to come to fruition, Oakland Holdings submitted a successful planning application to demolish Lyndon Court and develop an aparthotel with bar, restaurant and conferencing facilities in 2019. room2 then secured a 25-year lease with a tenant option to break at year 20, and Lyndon Court was demolished in 2020. Ganson commenced site-enabling works in August 2021, with FK Lowry starting piling work the following month. The building was designed to the Lamington Group’s specification, with the lease agreement contingent on the developer securing planning permission, building control approval and a minimum BREEAM rating of Very Good.
Structured around a reinforced in-situ concrete frame, the building’s external walls feature a combination of brick, stone cladding and curtain walling. Specified finishes include ironmongery, some suspended ceilings, dry lining, flooring, painting, decorating and external works including enhancement of the streetscape. Among challenges for the contractor was coordinating lead-in times with multiple suppliers. “Ganson facilitated and managed the project, creating and maintaining good relationships with a host of key suppliers across Europe,” said Lyndsey Thompson, HSE Officer at Ganson. “It required close collaborative working with other members of the project team, including specialist meetings with interior designers from London to set up sample rooms throughout the project.” And ensuring Lamington Group was fully involved throughout the construction process was a priority. “We feel we met and exceeded the client’s expectations,” said Lyndsey. The hometel’s 0.09-hectare city centre site offered its own challenges including restricted space necessitating off-site storage. And deliveries to the busy location fronting onto Queen and College streets required strategic planning.
“Among the more complex elements of Ganson’s work on this project were the reinforced concrete frame, composite cladding on the upper external façade and the traditional brick work on the sixth floor,” said Lyndsey. “Further notable features included the curtain wall glazing and traditional Trocal flat roof construction.” Ganson was also charged with coordinating installation of the M&E works, to be operated from plant space in the basement. With sustainability a major focus for the Lamington Group, room2 Belfast is powered only by electric, part generated from solar energy, operates a zero-waste-to-landfill policy and is aiming to become net zero by 2030. A sister location in Chiswick lays claim as the world’s first net-zero hotel. Repurposed materials are used throughout the property including a reception desk crafted from old soap bottles, carpets from old fishing nets and the café bar from recycled glass. And the ethos carries through to the artwork and hospitality offer, with a focus on local producers, seasonal ingredients and zero-waste cocktails.
Client: Lamington Group
Developer: Oakland Holdings
Main Contractor: Ganson
Architect: Like Architects
Structural Engineer: BW Murray
M&E Consultant: Arup
Mechanical contractor: HTC Mechanical
Electrical contractor: Haughey Electrical
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