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27 Mar

Irwin completes Mechanical & Electrical installation in new student accommodation in Great Patrick Street, Belfast.

Irwin M&E has completed a full mechanical and electrical installation on a new 474-bedroom student accommodation project in Great Patrick Street in Belfast. Working with main contractor Gilbert-Ash, the project was developed by Olympian Homes and is operated by Student Roost.

Speed of the construction programme

The project was under significant time pressure with a very tight construction programme due to a fixed completion date. Students were due to move in two weeks after completion, so there could be no slippage in the programme of works.

Due to the very fast turnaround time, meticulous planning and coordination was required at an early stage of the project between the Irwin M&E team and Gilbert-Ash. The construction contractor used service templates during the concrete pour and decided to use prefabricated bathroom pods.

Offsite construction and coordination of services

 “The bathroom pods were manufactured in Hull and shipped over in bulk,” commented John Davis, Project Director at Gilbert-Ash. “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 ensuite bathrooms to install, it proved critical to keeping the project on track.”

Chris Adams, Contracts Director at Irwin M&E, commented, “We enjoyed working closely on this challenging design and build project with the team at 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.”

Sustainability and energy efficiency

“An additional focus of the M&E installation at Great Patrick Street Student Accommodation was energy efficiency. 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” commented Chris.

“From a safety perspective, a 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 were provided to every ensuite 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 IT provider to install a WIFI system, providing full coverage to the entire building.

Design collaboration

Irwin M&E appointed Caldwell Consulting to work with the company on the design aspect. Chris added. “The cooperation on this venture was superb and meant that it ran smoothly. Everyone pulled in the same direction, which proved critical on what was a tight schedule, to get the project completed.”

Exemplar project for modern student living

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.

Chris commented “This benchmark student accommodation project was delivered on time, thanks to the strong collaboration with all partners involved, including the main contractor and our own suppliers, subcontractors and design team. Clear communication and proactive engagement with all project partners very much underpins Irwin M&E’s company ethos, resulting in successful projects and happy clients”

The project at Great Patrick Street adds to Irwin M&E’s strong portfolio of work in the student accommodation / residential sector. Additional projects completed include the 759-room Unite Angel Lane Student Accommodation project in Stratford, London for contractor McAleer & Rushe.

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