Smart Control of a Second Home

TwentyTwo Integration has been awarded a top honour in the 2018 EMEA CEDIA Awards. The London-based company won the Best Integrated Home £120,000 and under category for a cleverly designed and technically outstanding installation.

The brief was to design a home automation system to enhance the comfort and enjoyment of one of the owner's properties; an elegant Knightsbridge apartment, within a large residential building. The client wanted to integrate all AV, including distributed music and video, lighting, shading, and security.

There were a number of specific requirements to fulfill; a simple GUI with uniformity of control in all the rooms; high-end audio that could be enjoyed without disturbing the neighbours; and programmable lights and blinds to disguise when the owner was absent.

The integrator specified a Crestron 3-Series control system, which is capable of integrating all the client's required services to form the core of this modern "connected" home. Multiple users can control different aspects of the system simultaneously using a personalised app on an Apple iPad or a Crestron handheld remote.

The main integrated component of the assignment is the home entertainment. Distributed audio is enabled using a Crestron C2N amplifier; designed specifically for smaller properties while HD video is achieved using a Pulse Eight video matrix. The owner has a variety of centralised media sources including Apple TV, Blu-ray, Sky+ HD satellite receiver, and Sonos Connect; all of which can be accessed throughout the residence.

High-quality sound was a priority for the client, so Bowers & Wilkins in-ceiling speakers have been fitted in every living area including the bedrooms. In addition to reproducing clear, accurate sound, they have the benefit of being almost invisible.

Slim Samsung LED TVs, ranging in size from 22" in the kitchen to 75" in the living room, have been hung in all the bedrooms and main relaxation spaces using Future Automation flush wall mounts. In the lounge area, the primary location for watching TV, an Artcoustic centre channel soundbar and Velodyne subwoofer add even greater depth to the sound quality.

As an open plan area, the acoustics had to be managed carefully.  The client was also concerned that the noise from the apartment would affect the neighbours, especially as the interior designers had insisted on in-ceiling speakers, rather than in-wall or freestanding. To minimise sound transfer, the integrators worked with the builders to ensure the right level of building insulation was fitted. The B&W speakers have also been installed with Dynabox acoustic enclosures which project sound into the room rather than above it. Furthermore, the control app has been programmed with easy access to sound equalisation settings so that bass and treble are easily adjustable. There is also a "night-time" mode for watching TV or listening to music at unsociable hours.

The second key element to the scheme is the lighting and motorised window treatments, including curtain tracks and roman blinds, which have been integrated using Lutron HomeWorks QS into the overall house system. A complication arose, in that Lutron doesn’t supply roman blinds in the UK, so the integrator chose to work with a blind fabricator to create bespoke solutions, incorporating Lutron's Roller 64 blind mechanism, to ensure continuity and compatibility for integration.

The Lutron control system has been programmed with a number of different lighting scenes to instantly create an ambience or mood for a specified area. Both lighting and blinds can be operated from the iPad app or Lutron seeTouch keypads. The wall mounted keypads feature large, easy to use buttons which have been engraved for effortless control. The seeTouch buttons have been replicated within the Crestron app for uniformity of operation.

As the apartment is not the client's primary residence, TwentyTwo Integration has programmed "home" and "away" buttons, on the entrance hall keypad, encompassing the whole dwelling. When the accommodation is empty, and the "away" button has been set, the lights and blinds adjust automatically to reflect occupancy. This has the added advantage of managing power usage and protecting the wooden flooring and furniture from the damaging effects of the sun. On the owner's return, one touch of the "home" button turns all the systems back on.

The final aspect of the brief is integrated security. Along with external CCTV, an inconspicuous camera has been fitted into the main entrance door, covering the communal hallway. This allows the occupants to view a live feed of any activity going on around the apartment, via the iPad, whether they are at home or a different location.

The work proved challenging at times. Site access was only permitted between 9.30 and 3.30pm, Monday to Friday, so careful time management was essential to prevent the budget from running out of control. Nevertheless, the overall project has been completed to an extremely high standard and meets all the requirements of the brief.

The intuitive GUI on the iPad means the owners have simple, logical control of their home, even when they have been absent for some time. The technology either blends in or complements the stylish interiors of this luxurious property enhancing the lifestyle of the occupants.