Let there be light
Whole-home automation underscores the luxury of one contemporary six-bedroom retreat located in North London. HiddenWires takes a look behind the gates.
There are some homes where technology is visibly the focal point of a space, yet there are others where architecture, interior design and unseen technology interweave harmoniously to create something truly special. Look no further than Highbury, London, for a shining example of the latter. Here, at one recently completed six-bedroom family home, discreet technology works behind the scenes to create a highly integrated yet intuitive living experience incorporating intelligent lighting and shade, invisible audio and one seriously impressive home cinema. “Overall, controlling the house had to be as effortless as possible, not just for the homeowners themselves, but also their two children and any guests that might be on the premises,” explains Wojtek Zajac, technical director at smart home specialist Andrew Lucas London, who oversaw the project.
The latest addition to integrator’s portfolio is undeniably beautiful, but the detached property owner’s high standards for design are also matched when it comes to home technology. And with everything unified under a single user interface, with custom engraved keypads on hand throughout the home, adapting to living in the home was effortless for all members of the family. “Andrew Lucas’s design for the home was entirely sensitive to what we were looking to achieve with the property, and the technology solutions they installed fit in seamlessly with the design and construction of our home,” commented the client on the project.
“Controlling the house had to be as effortless as possible, not just for the homeowners themselves, but also their two children and any guests that might be on the premises.”
A core focus of the project, which is the result of the long-standing partnership between Andrew Lucas and construction company New Wave, was to maximise the amount of natural light in the home using light wells, floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors leading from the ground floor to the a large outdoor space. Enter the home’s main communal space for dining and entertaining, and light elegantly flows into space. And when the family is looking for a bit more privacy, a trio of independently-managed skylight blinds are on hand. Upstairs a single 5.8 metre-long blind provides further shade for the home’s entire staircase and upper landing area. Deploying all of this was not without its difficulties. “Adapting to the unconventional use of windows throughout the property was a major challenge,” Zajac adds. “Both the main living space – with floor-to-ceiling windows and three huge skylights – and the single, multi-level window on the stairwell required us to come up with inventive shading solutions to guarantee the right solar protection at different times of day.”
Engraved Lutron keypads have been flush-mounted using Andrew Lucas’ proprietary solution and configured so the whole family can easily understand and control all of the lighting and shading scenes in different parts of the home. A personalised control interface is also accessible via 7-in touch panels mounted in key locations around the home, with each faceplate specifically selected to either match or complement the room they reside in, and complement the overriding minimalist theme. “Our clients were keen to benefit from technology in their new home, but were concerned that this could disrupt the interior design,” says Zajac. “As well as our flush-mounted keypad solution, our designers worked with the client and our other partners to choose several different premium faceplate finishes tailored to their surroundings.”
To suit the different viewing and listening preferences of each family member, multi-room audio and video is accessible throughout the property. Multiple 4K HDR TVs ranging from 40 to 65-ins can be found in living spaces and individual bedrooms, with video sources including satellite, Apple TV and multiple streaming options. On several occasions these were deployed in collaboration with New Wave to ensure units (and any associated speakers) would fit exactly into the custom-made joinery created for the home.
Several in-ceiling speakers have been deployed in communal spaces, in addition to custom-built speakers in the property’s ground-level pool and spa area. The sauna and steam room are home to a weatherproof speaker and an in-ceiling speaker respectively, whilst outdoors multiple waterproof speakers from Bowers & Wilkins provide audio for hosting in the garden area.
“The clients had previously used a Sonos system in their home and were keen to retain this system for their new property,” says Zajac on why Sonos was the multi-room product of choice in home. As audiophiles, the homeowners were already owners of a pair of sleek black Meridian DSP8000 loudspeakers, but were keen to enjoy their extensive vinyl collection through them. To meet this request, Andrew Lucas provided a high-end Pro-Ject acrylic hi-fi turntable to create the perfect lossless listening experience they were looking for.
Although intelligent handling of light is a common theme of the Highbury residence, perhaps the centrepiece of the installation is found completely out of sight. Downstairs lives a home cinema room with a difference, boasting a 106-in Projecta screen paired with powerful a Sony 4K HDR projection system, conceived and executed by the Andrew Lucas team.
For the clear point of difference between this home cinema and the rest, look no further than the involvement of the integrator’s inhouse acoustician Andreas Brusberg. Renowned for his design of the Fryderyk Chopin Institution’s concert-grade audio system in Poland, Brusberg led the design, build and acoustic treatment of a bespoke room-wide 3D audio speaker system. This included the deployment of a central speaker array behind the acoustically-transparent cinema screen and 32 subwoofer drivers situated beneath the second row of seating, followed by rigorous testing to ensure the perfect balance whatever the space is being used for.
“The home cinema room was definitely a major focus on this particular project,” says Zajac. “Due to the budget and spatial constraints, the decision was made to design and install a custom-built 3D audio speaker layout. Therefore careful management of the materials, acoustic panelling and the layout of the room was imperative to ensure that everything would work together flawlessly.”
Outside of the home, the security of the property is ensured with multiple IP66-rated 3 megapixel cameras dotted around the exterior of the home allowing occupants to monitor outdoor spaces. A DoorBird entry system with a custom faceplate is also installed to allow the family to effortlessly see and speak to visitors outside via a touchscreen or the mobile app, in addition to operating the front gate remotely. All of which has resulted in a very satisfied homeowner; “The quality of service Andrew Lucas provided from start to finish has been amazing.” They add: “The attention to detail was highly impressive, particularly in the cinema room, where every single element – from the speakers to the custom joinery – works together perfectly to create a room that is truly wonderful to spend time in. Like the rest of the house, it is incredibly easy to use, which is exactly what we were hoping for from a smart home system.”
Amina invisible loudspeakers
Bowers & Wilkins in-ceiling & in-wall loudspeakers, outdoor weatherproof loudspeakers and subwoofer amplifiers
Crestron 3-series control system, touchpanels, wireless gateways and multi-room audio system
CYP HDBaseT matrix and receivers
Denon audio media player
DoorBird IP video door station
Future Automation ceiling mount, bracket and enclosure
Integra AV preamplifier & receiver and Blu-ray player
IRLAB outdoor cameras
Lutron HomeWorks QS processor, keypads, power modules, drapery track systems & rollers Meridian 218 zone controller
Middle Atlantic rack
Pro-Ject hi-fi turntable and amplifier
Projecta 160-in fixed projection screen
Rotel 8-channel power amplifiers
Samsung 4K HDR TVs (40-, 46-, 65-in)
Sonos Connect zone player
Sony VPL-VW320ES projector