Modern architecture & award-winning integration perfectly intertwine in Portugal
Charlotte Ashley looks behind the doors of an award-winning feat of technology integration and home design in Portugal with Joel Reis, owner of installation company Life Emotions.
“Achieving harmony between technology and architecture was the client’s chief request when it came to this project,” explains Joel Reis, founder and CEO of Portugal-based installer Life Emotions. “The installation was based on one of the client’s favourite mottos: less is more,” he expands. Located in the same neighbourhood as one of Portugal’s most-revered golf courses, architecture at the striking ocean-side retreat was handled by renowned local architect Frederico Valsassina.
"The installation was based on one of the client’s favourite mottos... less is more."
The origins of technical side of the project stemmed from the client’s love of technology and a meeting with a partner of Life Emotions. “The client had visited a HiFi specialist we deal with and the sales manager there demonstrated how equipment in a music room can be controlled from just an iPad – the client loved the experience and came to us to see if we could do the same in his new house.” The rest, as they say, is history.
Life Emotions’ work at ‘OSNLES House’ was of such a standard that it was recognised as a winner at the 2018 Basalte Awards in March at Light + Building fair in Frankfurt.
Technology meets design
“It was very important for technology in the home to be easy and care-free for the family to use,” says Reis.
In addition to carefully interweaving discreet technology with the home’s modern, minimalist styling, delivering distributed audio, 4K video, outdoor audio system, HVAC control, lighting and shading, security and CCTV, as well as a robust WiFi signal throughout the residence, was also the agenda for Life Emotions. “Control of the home had to be intuitive and possible through tablets and mobile phones,” states Reis. “Remote system monitoring and the ability to securely view CCTV were also very important for the client.”
Built in striking white concrete, Reis says that the home’s walls were an integral part of the home’s design, accompanied by floor-to-ceiling, ocean-facing bulletproof windows to create open living spaces that meant technology was to be enjoyed but rarely seen. “One of the biggest challenges on this project was the ‘zero error’ margin because of the walls and the little time we had to draw up plans to ensure everything was in the right position.”
“The architect wanted them to made from the raw material and feature as little equipment as possible, if not none at all, on them.” He adds: “We had to concentrate several functions on the same Basalte switches in order to avoid an overload of equipment.”
“The Jofebar windows are motorised, as again, the architect did not want to see ugly interfaces or cables when the windows disappear.” Reis says the company was fortunate to be collaborating with other stakeholders on the projects “since the foundations of the architectural plans” back in August 2015, allowing the integration team to ensure every system was bespoke and ideally suited to what the client was looking for.
“The architect wanted the walls to be made from the raw material and feature as little equipment as possible on them.”
Aside from the front-facing aesthetics, the minimalist theme was to be one of biggest challenges when it came to having the infrastructure to power the technology to go inside the home; “WiFi signal was something of a challenge because the house was constructed from steel and poured concrete,” he continues. Five Cisco access points and a pair of Ubiquiti UAP Outdoor+ access points solved the issue, however, though it took a lot of planning. “We did a study to work out the number of access points we needed, but still needed more in the end. It was vital we designed several CAT6 plugs as backup on the communication side of the project.”
In total, OSNLES House incorporated three video zones in total (cinema, living room and gym) and four audio zones (also overseeing outdoors), with control handled by Savant. “The Savant Host is capable of managing all the technologies we're using, however for logical KNX functions we installed a Loxone mini server,” explains Reis on why Savant was deployed. “From door locks to lighting, shades and security, we tailored the Savant system to suit the way the client lives and works.”
The homeowner and their family and friends can enjoy their favourite TV and films via video sources including two STB satellite boxes, with an Apple TV 32GB 4K and a Blu-ray Oppo 4K installed in the house’s cinema. The home’s dedicated home theatre features a 7.2 surround sound system with Martin Logan speakers, and is prepared for a future upgrade to Dolby Atmos later down the line. The space is completed with a Sony 4K projector paired with a 3048mm 4K screen from Screen Research.
For more relaxed viewing, a Sony TV 65-in LED 4K TV was deployed in the residence’s open-plan living area. “To create great sound in this space we chose a pair of Wilson Audio with a Devialet Pro 220 with transparent cables,” says Reis. A 4K video matrix (4x4) distributes content to the main TVs across the property, with Synology NAS also on hand for storing movies, music and photos.
The homeowner being a Sonos fan meant audio sources include two Sonos Connect players, as well as a DCS HiFi streamer, a Savant audio streamer with AirPlay and Spotify & Tidal streaming for native integration in the gym.
“For the lighting, shade and HVAC control we used a KNX technology as the main system with Basalte switches – these were chosen for their user-friendliness and ability to blend in with the home’s minimalist style,” continues the installer. “Touching more than one surface at the same time turns on and off all the lights in a room using a general scene in the home. Thanks to the integration with KNX home automation, this multi-touch function makes controlling the lighting very intuitive.”
Other scenes such as ‘Morning,’ ‘Sunset Weekend,’ and ‘Sunset Week’ are programmed to allow the homeowner to take maximum advantage of the natural light outside his mansion. The client additionally receives a push-notification on his mobile if a specific light is turned on through a Basalte Auro motion sensor – these also activate walkway lights with different moods, dependant on the hour of the day. Due to the number of windows in the home, Life Emotions ensured the client and his family had the ability to have blackouts (activated via Basalte switches and the Savant app) when wanting extra privacy. Control of lights is broad and encompasses DALI, 0-10v, DMX and ON/OFF.
Daikin HVAC machines are managed with a Daikin BUS to cover air conditioning, the eating area and fan coiling, integrated with Coolmaster equipment (in addition to Schneider, Basalte and Loxone to support the user having a familiar interface).
Safe & secure
CCTV to ensure the safety of the home is handled by Bosch IP HD 1080p cameras placed around the exterior of the home, and micro IP cameras deployed indoors. The client has the ability to view streams from all of the cameras either through the Savant interface or the Milestone app, in addition to receiving a call via one of three indoor touchscreens when the home’s Helios IP intercom is pressed.
“In case of any alarm, we configured the system to automatically send an email to the client and our team..."
“Through the outdoor intercom the client can open the car gate with a specific code lock – this should be an easy task, but wasn't because we didn’t have the cable between the intercom and the KNX system, neither with the car gate.” The solution came in the form of Life Emotions specially developing middleware to run on a Raspberry Pi that can receive HTTPS queries and send a contact closure to Savant.
The CCTV system extends to the homeowner’s pool area, with a video integrated analytics software system on hand to disable its cover if any suspicious movement is detected. Savant also supports wider control of the pool temperature thanks to a KNX bus installed near the pool machine and a module that simulate someone pressing to start the heating system.
A PowerSeries 64-zone keypad is also directly integrated with Savant for the home’s alarm system (allowing the client to see in which zones alarms are triggered). The alarm system is integrated with the home’s windows to send ‘Door Open’ and ‘Window Break’ signals for added security and also to block shades to avoid wind damage when windows are open.
Such high level of system integration has resulted in an intelligent home able to recognise anything problematic before an issue can escalate. “In case of any alarm, we configured the system to automatically send an email to the client and our team – whether it because there’s been an energy failure or that the hot water is below 45 degrees.” Domotz remote monitoring furthermore works to ensure Life Emotions have any potential problems on their radar.
“The feedback from the client has been very positive,” says Reis, on completing the two-year project. “It’s an honour and validation of our expertise to be selected to receive a Basalte Award alongside some of the most exceptional high-end residential projects worldwide is extremely special for us,” he concludes on the unique achievement that is OSNLES House.
Apple TV 4K
Basalte Auro motion detectors, Deseo controllers, Eve mounts and Sentido switches
Future Automation wall and ceiling mounts
Savant home automation system, music server and Pro remote
Sonos Connect players