Roman House with 21st century technology

Richard Hayward, lead marketing manager for Legrand’s range of building automation systems, discusses the use of smart home technology at Berkeley Homes’ prestigious Roman House scheme.

For the bespoke home and the penthouse apartment, intelligent control systems have become ubiquitous. No longer simply to be impressive, systems that provide smart integration of functions including heating, cooling, lighting, AV and blinds can also enhance a property’s energy efficiency and enable the occupier to tailor their space to suit their lifestyle.

At Berkeley Homes’ 90-apartment luxury development in the City of London, that need to tailor smart controls to the individual home has been put to the test with the installation of a building automation system within every property. Ranging from studio apartments to three-bedroom penthouses commanding £4.25 million, the scheme features 37 different interior layouts, which has required custom install specialist, RJK, to adapt the system to fit any property size or configuration.

Personalised luxury
Combining one of London’s oldest landmarks with contemporary design, Roman House is located adjacent to St Alphage Gardens, a small park that contains a section of the Roman wall that encircled London. The building was originally constructed as an eight-storey office block in the 1950s and the developer’s project to transform the property into luxury apartments will both update the building and restore some of its original features, including a stunning Portland stone facade.

The development’s sumptuous interior mirrors the style and prestige of its exterior, with individually designed kitchens, boutique hotel-style bathrooms and a dramatic entrance lobby clad in marble, bronze and lacquer. The building automation system has been specified to continue the theme of this high specification, luxury living through to the functionality of each apartment, with the ability to programme in personalised settings for every occupier.

Specification of the intelligent controls was driven by the need to install a user-friendly system that was intuitive and adaptable as well as smart. The chosen solution has been designed with simplicity of user interface in mind, with an iOS-style swipe or scroll touch screen that enables­­­­­ users to select controls based on room, function or pre-set personal preferences.

Multiple user interfaces
The building automation system will provide integrated control of underfloor heating, lighting, AV systems, electric blinds and access and security controls in all 90 apartments. In the penthouses the system will also incorporate air conditioning controls.

Full integration enables the system to be programmed to maximise comfort and energy efficiency by incorporating linked events into the settings. For example, it can be programmed to dim the lights and close the blinds automatically when the TV is switched on.

The primary user interface is a 10” touch screen in the living area; a slimline, wall-mounted unit that can be personalised with the individual preferences of several end users for multiple-occupancy. It provides the end user with internet access via the home’s Wi-Fi connection and individual user profiles can be personalised with images, customised control settings and personal preferences including music playlists. The end user can make their profile as complex or as simple as they want, ensuring that the system is just as suited to those who are unfamiliar with contemporary technology as it is to those who have grown up in the smart phone era.

For the developer, the touch screen means that the system is easy to demo to potential buyers and can be similarly tailored to demonstrate a level of complexity appropriate to the individual purchaser.

The touch screen can also multitask, enabling the user to play music files and view images at the same time for example, thereby providing an entertainment hub in addition to a control interface. At Roman House, the touch screen will also enable end users to view their home’s door entry system and CCTV images from the living area.

While the 10” touch screen provides the main static user interface for each apartment at Roman House, each bedroom will also have a 3.5” touch screen to provide localised control of blinds, lighting, heating and speakers. However, many occupiers may prefer to control the system using an iPad.

Using a home automation app, one touch icons will be created for key functions and pre-set scenes on the iPad, enabling the end user to operate the system from anywhere in the home or, indeed, anywhere in the world!

In the zone
Completion for Roman House is not expected until later this year and, in the interim, a custom install configuration must be designed for all 37 apartment layouts and installed in all 90 apartments, using a zoned approach to integrating the controls and simplifying the user interface.

Ease of programming has been key to the specification in order to address this challenge, saving time on-site and making it possible to replicate a homogenous specification across all apartment designs.