Work on the £4.5m transformation of W5, Northern Ireland’s Science and Discovery Centre, begins this week following the awarding of the major contract to Aivaf Ltd.
The single largest investment at W5 since it opened in 2001 will create seven brand new themed zones and is scheduled to be completed by June 2020.
Aivaf, a Sheffield-based company in partnership with attraction design company Mather & Co, won the £1.85m project to position W5 as a world class science and discovery centre attracting a wider audience from Northern Ireland and beyond. Aivaf specialise in creating amazing experiences and have worked all around the world in visitor centres and museums.
Lydia McClelland, Head of W5, said: “This major project will create a series of new and exciting interactive exhibitions that will appeal to all ages. We look forward to working with Aivaf and their team to deliver significant change at W5 and to widen public engagement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) enhancing knowledge and understanding amongst the next generation of budding scientists through interactive learning.”
Bruce Davies, Managing Director of Aivaf said: “We are proud to have been awarded the contract to work on one of Northern Ireland’s leading visitor attractions. We will be using our breadth of skills in designing and developing hands-on interactive exhibits to help create an amazing experience at W5.”
The redevelopment of W5 is funded by a £3m grant from the Inspiring Science Fund – a partnership between the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Wellcome; with a further £1.5m from the Odyssey Trust. This work will transform the visitor experience at W5 and is aimed at encouraging more young people to pursue STEM careers.
The Inspiring Science Fund is a £30 million capital scheme to support science centres across the UK, helping them to rethink what they do and what they offer to the public.
This latest announcement reflects the continued development of W5 with the opening of MED-Lab, a new interactive medical themed exhibition created in association with Almac Group, in January 2019. Amaze, a new 360 degree virtual reality space, is set to open in June 2019.
Lydia McClelland, Head of W5 (centre left) and Robert Fitzpatrick, CEO of the Odyssey Trust (centre right), discuss the plans with the main contractor Bruce Davies, MD of Aivaf and Sarah Clarke, MD of partner company Mather and Co. The work to create seven brand new themed zones on levels two and four of the site is scheduled to be completed by June 2020.