Inside look at the making of a smart home in Abuja, Nigeria
A testament to first-class design, collaboration and integration, look no further than the latest project from Hausba Smarthomes for an example of Nigeria’s emerging custom installation market. HiddenWires explores.
When Hausba Smarthomes’ long-term collaborator and local real estate developer Cachez Turnkey Projects came calling with a US $3 million, 700 square metre, seven-bedroom luxury villa owner looking to own his first smart home system; the answer was an easy one.
The property is located in the city of Abuja, Nigeria’s bustling political, business and design hub – a breeding ground for the country’s growing custom installation market – where the company’s portfolio is growing with ambitious projects with healthy budgets. “Hausba has been working with Cachez for over seven years now. Their client had just purchased the home and requested to have a smart home living experience and we put ourselves forward to deliver the project,” explains Toochukwu Onyemelukwe, managing director at Hausba.
As a technology fan, the client’s needs were specific – from smaller requests, like what content he would watch on his TVs to far-reaching ones, like requesting the conversion of one of the home’s bedrooms into a high spec home cinema.
"In order to deliver the bespoke experience the client was looking for, and with the understanding that budget wasn’t a concern, we decided to go for what we feel are the leading brands in each area of the industry,” says Onyemelukwe. “Firstly, we wired the whole house for a Lutron HomeWorks smart lighting system, which integrated seamlessly with Control4 home automation.” Glass-finished keypads dotted around the home were chosen over traditional switches to give an elegant and modern finish.
“During our client discovery session, it became clear it was important for the homeowner to be able to control all lights and window shades from a keypad at his bedside, since he was going to be home alone most times when the housekeeper retires at night.” To accommodate this, Hausba created a “Goodnight” scene on the master bedroom’s bedside keypad for switching off the night lights in the living rooms and common areas. Furthermore, Lutron window shades automatically roll down at sunset and roll up at 7am every day to suit the homeowner’s schedule.
“The client was particular about being able to access the latest movie releases in UHD from the Bang & Olufsen TVs around his home.”
Hausba furthermore tailored the automation system to provide added protection to the multi-million dollar home, and the technology inside. “Security was a concern, and we had to come up with an alternative to installing burglary bars on the stairs’ windows whilst also not obstructing the view along the stairs’ fixed glazing,” explains Onyemelukwe. To secure the stairs’ glass curtain wall, Hausba introduced motorised shutters which rolled down to secure the windows against burglary, but still allowed the client see through its perforated openings. A custom button on the Control4 touchpanel (in addition to the “Goodnight” scene) triggers all eight roller shutters to close. A DSC Neo security system and biometric access control to the elevator further bolsters the safety of the homeowner and the villa, all of which is integrated via IP with the wider Control4 system.
“The client was also particular about being able to access the latest movie releases in UHD from the Bang & Olufsen TVs around his home,” continues Onyemelukwe. To fulfil this requirement, Hausba ensured 4K HDBaseT video distribution delivered UHD video signal from the central Kaleidescape Strato system to his five TVs.
The ability to enjoy music across the villa was also high on the homeowner’s list of must-haves, and B&O were once again preferred when it came to choosing discreet yet powerful in-ceiling architectural speakers. “The client loved the speaker’s small form factor yet incredible sound reproduction. A Control4 audio system enabled multiple audio video sources as well as music streaming services such as TuneIn, Spotify and Deezer,” states Onyemelukwe.
With US $188,000 (€154,000) dedicated to creating the ideal customised smart home system, a significant budget of $163,000 (€133,000) was set aside for bringing to life the homeowner’s vision of his dream home cinema. What previously served as a guest bedroom has been converted into a fully-automated immersive cinema space. “The cinema room was a replica of a similar project of ours which the client fell in love with,” says Onyemelukwe. The room now boasts a Dolby Atmos 7.2.4 immersive audio system powered by a Trinnov 16-channel audio processor and Bowers & Wilkins cinema speakers, concealed behind an acoustic wall treatment and a Stewart Filmscreen acoustically transparent projection screen.
Creating perfectly balanced audio in the room was not without its challenges, however; “When designing the cinema room, we had a constraint of space as the room’s width wasn’t able to accommodate the surround speakers behind the wall panels,” explains Onyemelukwe. “To resolve this, we decided to recess the speakers into the solid block wall and gain back 120mm on each side of the wall. Again, the headroom was about 2.7m, thereby posing a challenge to our seating risers which typically would be increments of 300mm.” He concludes: “We eventually elevated the projector screen to the maximum height possible and reduced the floor risers to 200mm each.”
Another issue was reducing the noise filtering into the adjoining living room and bedroom from the cinema room. “We resolved this with a sound isolation panel made out of a double layer of half-inch dry wall with green glue in-between, placed along the wall prior to our under-construction for the acoustic wall panel – which was a composed of 1-in chipboard and 1-in fibre glass panels.”
A Control4 interface enables simple control of the home cinema for homeowner and guests, with the added option of using one of the manufacturer’s SR260 remotes if they would prefer. A Sony 4K VPL-320ES is paired with the large 135-in screen in the cinema, with nine individual black leather seats from Elite Home Theater offering guests the ultimate comfort whether enjoying 4K content from Amazon Fire TV, via Kaleidescape Strato or watching the latest sports.
The reach of the homeowner’s control system also extend outdoors to the villa’s large pool area, where the safety of the client’s visiting grandchildren and non-swimmers was a priority. “The challenge was that client didn’t want any physical barricades around the swimming pool, but wanted to ensure the safety of others,” notes Onyemelukwe. “We resorted to customising a motorised pool cover. This meant as well as monitoring the pool via Control4 4sight on his phone when he was away, he could also open and close the pool cover for authorised use only.”
Although a 2-year build timeline was delayed in its final delivery, the homeowner can now enjoy his family-friendly, fully customised smart home, with Ihiji remote management on hand to ensure Hausba provides excellent customer support and are on-site only when necessary.
2N Helios IP Verso
Apart Audio Revamp 1680 power amplifiers
Axis IP cameras
Bang & Olufsen in-ceiling speakers
Bowers & Wilkins CT7.3 LCRS, CWM7.3 in-wall speakers, CT SW15 subwoofers and CCM7.3 in-ceiling speakers
Control4 EA5 controller, EA1 controllers, SR-260 remotes, 7-in touchpanels and 16x16 audio matrix switch
DSC Neo alarm starter kit
DSTV satellite recorders and decoder
Dune HD media players
Elite Home Theater seating
Invixium access control
Kaleidescape Strato movie player
Lutron HomeWorks dimmer/switching modules & keypads, Sivoia shading system and occupancy sensors
Middle Atlantic racks
Muxlab 8x8 4K matrix switch
Séura Hydra indoor waterproof TV
Sony VPL-VW320ES 4K projector
Stewart Filmscreen 16:9 projector screen
Trinnov Altitude 32 processor and Amplitude power amplifiers
QNAP HS-251 media server and NVR