Best Integrated Home (under £100,000)
Winner: James + Giles for The BREEAM Home
“A solution which integrates everything - tech, architecture and great interior design.”
The scheme’s judges declared the project which seamlessly controls audio-visual, lighting, security and energy management systems in the property for convenience and comfort as the most impressive they’d seen.
James + Giles’s client for this project wanted the latest technology to meet the demands of modern family life, complement the minimalist interior of the property and help meet the low energy credentials required for a Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology (BREEAM) home. This challenging brief was ably met by James + Giles’s with a winning specification combining KNX technology integrated with Control4 to provide a ground-breaking level of control, embracing HVAC, lighting, security, intercom, solar shading and audio-visual distribution with the minimum of fuss and intrusion.
“The client was keen to retain the home’s Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4 and BREEAM Eco-homes rating of ‘Very Good’,” says Giles Sutton, Director of James + Giles. “Our cost-effective system successfully manages the chief low energy features, including the heat-recovery ventilation, heating and solar-shading, alongside lighting, security and home entertainment.”
In an open plan house, built as a series of split-level floors and with such a clean aesthetic, concealment of the technology was extremely important. Most of the walls and floors are made from solid concrete or glass, so embedding the cabling was either impractical or impossible.
The James + Giles solution made use of a ‘chimney’ running through the core of the home which provided the ideal location for the service run of cabling and HVAC components, as well as providing handy storage space for the family. In the main living space this central core also houses a discretely positioned flat screen TV, and behind a detachable acrylic panel, a Leon soundbar, which blends with the panels when not in use. The screen is future-proofed, in that upcoming Panasonic models are guaranteed to fit the current frame size if the family opt to upgrade.
A close collaboration with lighting designer, Firefly, produced an energy-efficient and visually stunning lighting scheme, controlled by KNX using a range of low voltage dimming methods including the DALI protocol (more often associated with commercial projects). This bus-based system also removed the need for multiple, complex gateways and interfaces. With its distributed intelligence, the KNX system offers greater reliability than a centralised lighting system and required fewer controls. The integrated combination of thermostat and lighting switches are a key feature of the KNX system, as they control both temperature and lighting with a different sequence of buttons and no need for separate temperature sensors.
The downstairs family media room features a projector, facing the discrete white wall ‘screen’, and accesses Blu-ray, Sky and various networked audio sources. The room is also used for entertaining, parties and live music, with its integral bar area, drum kit and piano.
In the media room, and around the house, James + Giles has ensured the technology is readily adaptable for the future. Along with the green roofs and rain-water harvesting, the company has installed cabling for a weather station to allow for more energy saving options.
Using KNX, James + Giles maximises the home’s slow energy features to help achieve its BREEAM rating. With Control4 remotes and the app, the client can operate all the sub-systems in the house from touchscreen, iPad or phone. Meanwhile, a discrete plant room is home to the technology hub which stores equipment alongside the KNX/Control4 managed HVAC system.