Bryson House, Belfast

Restricted access and a riverside site called for a strategic approach and a highly skilled team...

Back to the future

When Bryson Charitable Group needed to reconfigure and refurbish their ageing office accommodation at Bryson House, Belfast they looked for a partner that could deliver a first-rate project in a tight timeframe and one with the expertise to tackle challenging site conditions. They found all those qualities and more in Killowen Contracts.

Works on the £1.2m project included complete strip out and alteration of the existing three-storey building and reconfiguration to provide multi-use space including meeting areas, open plan offices and sports facilities for the client.

The central stairwell was relocated, a new passenger lift installed along with complete fit out of the building internally including internal partitions, ceilings and internal glazed screens and folding partitions.

Andrew Knapton, Director Killowen Contracts says, “There were also some structural repairs required to strengthen the existing building fabric in the century-old building. The timber columns in the basement had become rotten following regular flooding from the rising water levels in the River Lagan.

The columns were replaced sequentially with new steel columns during the programme. Additional steel bracing was fitted to the existing structure to improve stability of the building and prevent any further movement.”

A section of the roof was in disrepair and replaced with new slates and flashings and existing windows were removed and new aluminium windows and doors installed.

Sections of the external brickwork were damaged and in poor condition, while other sections of the brick façade had been previously replaced with products not matching the original.

“We were able to source a brick to match the original construction and our highly skilled craftsmen rebuilt all the sections complete to match. The complete façade was then repointed,” says Andrew.

The building is located off the Ravenhill Road with a small private parking area to the front, enclosed on all sides with restricted access. The surrounding buildings were occupied throughout the contract with commercial and retail properties, which needed to be considered on a daily basis. “The small area offered little space for storage of plant or materials, so site management needed to consider material deliveries on a daily basis,” says Andrew.

“The riverside elevation needed to be given consideration and we were able to review this on-site with our design team and scaffolding contractor to cantilever the scaffold from the building suspended above the river for the contract period to allow all works to be completed safely.

“The programme was challenging having been appointed in November 2019 under a 20-week contract to complete the project. Our client had a strict programme and it was imperative they were able to occupy the building from April 2020. We worked with all stakeholders to ensure this was possible.”

However, two weeks from completion work was stopped due to Covid-19 restrictions. “In line with guidelines set out by the Government, CEF and Construction Leadership Council we were able to return to site safely and finish out the project as required. In the interim, we worked to accommodate client access and allow partial occupation for storage of office equipment and furniture. We worked in collaboration with all parties including our supply chain to ensure full occupation of the building by the client as quickly as possible upon easing of restrictions,” says Andrew. The project was completed in May.

“Working on this project was challenging but it was satisfying to be able to restore the building back to its original fabric and fit it out internally as a modern, usable office space,” says Andrew. “We also remodelled the basement to accommodate sports equipment for local children’s clubs. This will make a positive difference to the local community, so that was another satisfying aspect to the project.”

John Gamble, Hamilton Architects praised the high standard of work carried out by staff and sub-contractors that contributed to the successful completion within a challenging construction programme. John adds, “Director-level supervision delivering a personal pride in the finished product for the client typifies the comprehensive attention Killowen Contracts Ltd delivers in execution of the contract.”

Project team…
Client: Bryson Charitable Group
Main Contractor: Killowen Contracts
Architect: Hamilton Architects
Project Manager: Andrew Knapton
Mechanical Contractor: HTC Mechanical Services Ltd

“Director-level supervision delivering a personal pride in the finished product.”

Killowen Contracts, 35 Bridge Rd, Newry BT34 3QT
T: +44 (0)28 4175 3378

Fifteen years in business, Fire Stop and Seal Ltd continue to achieve the highest standards in structural fire protection.

County Antrim-based Fire Stop and Seal Ltd used industry-leading fire rated products Protecta 50mm Fire Batt and Protecta Intumescent Sealant to achieve fire ratings on Bryson House.

The project was completed just before lockdown restrictions were enforced. “We were under pressure to get the project done before the Covid-19

lockdown,” says Hugh McKay, Managing Director at Fire Stop and Seal Ltd. “We achieved this through extra qualified and trained manpower and doubling down on our site management efforts.”

In business for over 15 years, Fire Stop and Seal Ltd were one of the first companies in Northern Ireland to achieve third party accreditation from International Fire Consultants (IFC), which they continue to maintain.

“We have an excellent relationship with Killowen Contracts Ltd and have worked with them on various projects over many years,” says Hugh.

Fire Stop and Seal Ltd
T: +44 (0) 28 9447 8674

Bann Architectural Systems Ltd was sub-contracted to work on the refurbishment of Bryson House to deliver high-quality aluminum doors and glazing.

A feature of the project is the arched head aluminum windows, fabricated using the Metal Technology architectural glazing system.

“Arch head windows aren’t without their challenges in the fabrication process,” says Kyle Bowman from Bann Architectural Systems Ltd, “but our team of fabricators are perfectly equipped to take on the trickiest jobs.”

“The project went really well for us, and we’re delighted to add Bryson House to our portfolio. We have worked alongside Killowen Contracts on many previous jobs and have developed a great working relationship over the years.”

Bann Architectural Systems Ltd
T: +44 (0)28 9269 8855

S. McConnell & Sons’ craftsmen are renowned for the skills in all aspects of traditional stonework, from refurbishments and renovations to stunning new-build projects. Their role on the Bryson House project was to rake out and remove old and loose mortar, repoint and fix the damaged brickwork.

The 16-week renovation job produced a crisp new exterior finish for the century-old building, which reflects the cutting edge facilities it now houses for the relocated Bryson Charitable Group.

The family-run business is based close to the Mourne Mountains and has been in business now for over three generations.

Alan McConnell, Director at S. McConnell & Sons is pleased with how the project turned out.

“We’ve worked on quite a lot of projects with Killowen Contracts and we’ve enjoyed working with them again on Bryson House,” he says. “They’re a good company to work with and we’re looking forward to working on future projects with them.”

S. McConnell & Sons Ltd
T: +44 (0)28 4176 3717

Renovating, remodelling and repurposing a century-old building into use as modern office accommodation is not without its headaches.

While the aim at Bryson House was to maintain the period style of the red-brick structure as much as possible, how do you introduce 21st century services sympathetically?

This is where HTC Mechanical stepped up to the mark.

The County Tyrone based M&E contractor installed an ATAG gas fired LPHW system and Zehnder column radiators, plumbing – including top of the range sanitaryware – air conditioning and heat recovery in Bryson House.

But it was far from straightforward, as Haley Hawes, Contracts Manager HTC Mechanical explains.

“There are a lot of exposed beams and internal brickwork in Bryson House which the client wanted to maintain, so we had to be strategic when installing services.”

Their first job with Killowen Contracts, Haley was impressed by the co-ordination onsite. “The combination of an old building renovation and awkward location can be challenging, but excellent project management from Killowen ensured the project ran smoothly,” she says.

HTC Mechanical
T: +44 (0)28 8774 7340