Farrans completes 'technically challenging' student accommodation block

Exterior of the now completed Aster House student project in Belfast

BUILDING and civil engineering contractor Farrans Construction has completed what it states was a "technically challenging" student accommodation project in Belfast for Chicago-based client CA Ventures.

The Aster House scheme, which offers 253 student bed spaces across five-storeys, is situated in Belfast city centre on a 20-year-old podium previously constructed for another scheme by Farrans, which runs directly over the main railway route into the city centre.

The build is a lightweight steel met-sec structure on a new concrete transfer slab.

The scheme - which comes with a number of novel features including its own karaoke room - was delivered through a JCT design and build contract as a tranche of three across the UK.

Farrans worked with the client through a pre-construction services agreement (PCSA) period to ensure the structure was suitable for this scheme.

The karaoke room in Aster House

The project provides a mixture of cluster beds and studios, with living, kitchen and study rooms provided within the building. The work brought together Farrans’ building and civil engineering divisions to deliver a technically challenging and complex project.

Felim Blaney, contracts manager at Farrans, said: “This was an exciting build to be involved in from the beginning, supporting CA Ventures through the design period right through to the completed building, which has opened for this year’s intake of students at Queen’s University.

“Our design responsibility extended to dealing with the planning authority along with responsibility for fire and, importantly, acoustic considerations given the railway. Our construction programme was agreed with Translink so as not to impact on the public transport route.

“We have extensive experience in the student accommodation sector having recently completed St Thomas Street in Bristol for F3 Group and we are on site for Live Oasis: Strato in Leeds city centre for client Infinity Construction Enterprises, as we continue to grow our presence in the north of England.”

Tom Banning, senior vice president of development for CA Ventures, a global vertically integrated real estate investment management company with more than $13 billion in assets across the US, Europe and Latin America, said: “Belfast continues to experience unprecedented demand for student accommodation, and we are grateful for the opportunity to address the need for student beds through the delivery of Aster House – a thoughtfully-designed, one-of-a-kind scheme built with wellness and sustainability at its core.

“Managed by CA’s in-house property management company, Novel Student, Aster House has already made a splash in the market at nearly 100 per cent pre-leased for the 2022-2023 school year. We look forward to facilitating the future successes of the asset in years to come under the Novel operating platform.”