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.”

custom Lutron keypads for home control in highbury smart home, installed by andrew lucas london

four poster-bed and samsung smart TV in bedroom of Highbury project by andrew lucas

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.

sauna and jacuzzis and speakers in spa at Highbury smart home by andrew lucas

meridian loudspeakers and pro-ject turntable in highbury smart home, london installed by andrew lucas

“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.

cinema screen and seats in basement of Highbury smart home, installed by andrew lucas

“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

Apple TV

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