Design and Construction Skills in the Spotlight
Pupils from eight schools in Northern Ireland have recreated the new AC by Marriott Hotel in Belfast, as part of an immersive Minecraft initiative coordinated by leading UK construction, refurbishment and fit out contractor, Gilbert-Ash, in partnership with Belfast Harbour and STEM Aware.
The project was launched to give school pupils an insight into a broad range of careers available to them in construction. The initiative showed them how the technology and skills used in globally popular Minecraft gaming programme can be used in the design and construction of buildings.
During the project, pupils built models of the AC by Marriott Hotel using Minecraft, and were also given the opportunity to visit the construction site itself. The young people, aged between 12 and 18, were challenged to produce a hotel with an environmentally sustainable focus. It encouraged them to add their own creativity and personal input into the development and inspired them to take an interest in the regeneration of their city.
The project also included a focus on the role of digital transformation in the future of construction. It scored full marks for innovation with the Considerate Constructors Scheme and a case study now features on their best practice hub.
The educational scheme is part of Gilbert-Ash and Belfast Harbour’s ongoing drive to educate and motivate the next generation around construction, addressing future skills gaps across the sector. The Minecraft challenge enabled young people to discover their own passion in design and development, and consider how their skills could be advantageous and utilised in a career in construction.
At the beginning of the eight week programme, the young people delved into nine-storey AC by Marriott Hotel, including 190 rooms, restaurants, fitness facilities and meeting rooms. This provided the eager participants with insights on how developments are purposefully designed and constructed from the outset.
In response to the environmental and sustainable theme, students helped shape innovative ideas for the hotel in Belfast Harbour’s City Quays development including the use of kinetic walkways to enable pedestrians to produce electricity and power in the area.
Gilbert-Ash Managing Director, Ray Hutchinson said, “We created this community initiative to help inspire the next generation within the construction industry and to provide young people with important transferable skills. Marriot International, alongside key partners Belfast Harbour and STEM Aware, helped us bring this to life and together we have given young people insight into the whole construction process and the work we do in their local area and beyond.”
“Working with schools and young people is incredibly important to us, particularly at a time when research is highlighting that the construction industry has an ageing workforce. Motivating a young, ambitious workforce will help resolve this problem. We were truly impressed by how engaged the pupils were as well as the ingenuity and creativity shown. We are looking forward to completing the AC Hotel by Marriott Belfast in early 2018. The finished property will be a stunning new addition to the City Quays development in Belfast Harbour.”
Jenni Barkley, Communications and Corporate Responsibility Manager at Belfast Harbour, said: “This project gives us the opportunity to bring students to the City Quays development at Belfast Harbour, engage with them and encourage them to feel ownership of Belfast’s regeneration. Using a programme such as Minecraft allows them to explore ideas of design, construction, engineering and sustainability and at the same time allowing them to watch the building come to life.”
The AC by Marriott in Belfast will have created 180 construction jobs in total and employment for approximately 115 people when it is completed in the first quarter of 2018. Multi-Michelin-starred award-winning chef Jean-Christophe Novelli will open an exclusive new signature restaurant as part of the new £25 million hotel.
City Quays is Belfast’s newest and most modern mixed-use regeneration project, providing Grade A office space, a hotel, retail, cafés and restaurants, in addition to new residential accommodation on the key city centre waterfront site.
With offices in London and Belfast, Gilbert-Ash offers a range of opportunities for pupils and students to experience the world of construction, from work shadowing programmes to site visits during the lifespan of projects. It also hosts ‘Have a Go’ events enabling individuals to experience taster sessions across various trades, showcasing the range of opportunities within the sector.
For more information on Gilbert-Ash visit www.gilbert-ash.com