Sycamore Park Student Accommodation, Queen’s University Belfast

When Queen’s University Belfast needed a fast-track refit project at its Sycamore Park Student Accommodation, it appointed long-term construction partner, Killowen Contracts Ltd, to deliver the large-scale, time-critical programme.

In total, the Newry-based firm revamped 19 kitchens, equipping them with modern appliances and refurbished 198 ensuites. The £1.20 million project was completed within a strict 12-week programme.

The construction itself was relatively straightforward, with the main challenge lying in managing the programme’s tight timeframe and volume of work. 

“We needed to complete the work during the summer recess to ensure everything was ready for the students’ return in September 2023,” explained Andrew Knapton, Director for Killowen Contracts. “We decided to get a head start on the project by beginning our assessments before the students vacated the buildings. This allowed us to understand the scope of work required and create fabrication drawings. By doing so, we had new kitchen installations underway by the second week of the programme.

“Our approach involved engaging our trusted supply chain early on. We also collaborated directly with Queen’s University, leveraging our strong working relationship with them. This early engagement enabled us to conduct on-site assessments, take measurements, draft drawings and secure approvals before commencing work. With preparations in full swing, we initiated production even before arriving on-site, allowing us to start the fit-out process promptly.”

Electrical works included replacement of light fittings and appliances and installation of new sockets and TVs. The mechanical aspect involved the installation of new Integrated Panel Systems (IPS) shower units.

Commenting on the completed project, Andrew said, “Having previously worked on several Queen’s University projects, we were delighted to successfully complete another significant endeavour with them. 

This project showcases our ability to handle large-scale projects efficiently, meet tight deadlines and budget constraints while maintaining high-quality work standards.

“Our dependable supply chain and on-site team played pivotal roles in achieving efficiency and top-notch quality. They responded swiftly, demonstrating great workmanship and productivity, which significantly contributed to the project’s success. These relationships have evolved over the years, making them integral to our continued collaboration.”

Killowen Contracts is a family-run company founded almost 50 years ago by brothers, John and Noel McGivern. The company has achieved significant growth and a reputation for delivering high quality construction. It takes pride in ensuring that every project is Director led. 

“From the outset of all projects we endeavour to form a strong and positive relationship with all stakeholders in the build, including the client and design team,” said Andrew. “On Sycamore Park Student Accommodation, we were able to do just that, which was very beneficial in overcoming the time challenges.

“We look forward to completing many more projects with Queen’s University, Belfast in the future.”

Andrew added, “In May this year, we were appointed to the Pagabo Framework for refit and refurbishment projects, providing a platform for us to build strategic partnerships. 

Although it wasn’t utilised for this particular project, it holds potential for future projects of a similar nature. This framework allows public and private organisations to approach us directly, eliminating the need for complex procurement processes. 

We can either execute the project or design and build it according to the client’s requirements, ensuring value for money and social value. 

“Partnering with Pagabo on this framework is a significant achievement for us and has placed Killowen Contracts on a select list, alongside other prominent companies in Northern Ireland, and extends across the UK.”

For the full feature on Sycamore Park, check out NIBuilder Issue 34-5 Oct-Nov here.