A Batcave fit for James Bond

Seán Holland headed to the south of England to see a tech-filled annex that would rival most homes… and there’s more to come.

No ordinary annex tucked away behind a house, out of sight with one or two functional rooms; this technology packed, luxury space has everything anyone would ever need to relax with a wealth of entertainment options on offer. Originally built in 2000 the multi-story annex has two bedrooms, an office, a gym, a games room with a fully stocked bar, a garage, and a spectacular cinema room.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the annex is the yet to be completed bridge that will connect it to the main house which is currently being renovated with a contemporary refresh while retaining some of the original features and walls from the 1930s. This bridge will provide a connection from the traditional home to the modern, smart technology-filled annex. The annex has been fitted with black panelling around the exterior to give it an almost Batcave-like appearance, a stark contrast to the stately, century-old look the new house will have. Despite their differences these two spaces will be linked, ensuring privacy without the homeowners having to feel like they have left their home to access the annex’s fun features.

A team consisting of Goldie Hawkins, the architect, Louis Hawkins, the surveyor, and Luke Kavanagh, the integrator, worked together for more than a year to bring the annex to life.

Right from the design phase of the project a balance had to be struck to ensure the space worked for the homeowners. One half of the couple is a tech enthusiast, while the other is more traditional and a solution had to be found to create a space that does all the things the tech enthusiast wants it to do, while keeping a degree of accessibility. Control4 was selected as the control platform and an area where this balance is evident is in the home screens on the eight Neeo remotes and the T4 series 10-in control panel that were carefully designed for easy access to functions.

However, one thing the homeowners agreed on from the outset of the project was the annex would be a dedicated space for smart technology, whereas the style and integration of the main house would be more traditional. With that in mind it’s perhaps unsurprising that the size and scale of the technology installed in the annex has grown. As the project progressed the tech enthusiast was captivated by the possibilities of what was on offer in the market and was enthusiastic in adapting original plans as they learned about technology that could add to the enjoyment of the space.

The name’s Bond… James Bond

The plans of the annex always included a home cinema, although the exact spec and degree of technology were initially not fully decided. Lake AV & Automation the homeowner to the UK distributor Habitech showroom, where they got a taste of what a high-tech dedicated cinema room could look and feel like. This set-in motion a process to replicate the showroom in the annex. The room features two levels of seating, accommodating up to ten people comfortably on bespoke couches with blankets and cushions scattered throughout for a homely feel.

At the heart of the cinema set up is a Kaleidescape playback system and Arcam AV40 AV processor. Lake AV & Automation installed a Kaleidescape M500 player, Strato-C 4K Ultra HD mini movie player, M700 disc vault, 1U movie server and a Terra movie server. The 1U movie server comes with 8TB of storage, enough to hold 125 high-bitrate 4K movies or around 200 HD movies. This was not enough for the homeowners who own an impressive collection of 300 films on Blu-ray, including the complete James Bond catalogue. This meant more memory had to be purchased as the Blu-rays were burned onto the Kaleidescape system in UHD. A JVC N27 projector was paired with a Panamorph J1 DCR lens and fires on to a 4.5m-wide Projecta screen.

The cinema room audio is delivered through a Wisdom Audio 7.2.4 system. The Wisdom S90i RTL in-wall subwoofers are particularly impressive and feature a custom Wisdom grill sprayed to match the walls by Iberian Lighting. These are paired with three P6i, four P4i and four P2i speakers. The system is powered by an Arcam PA720 amplifier and a Wisdom SW1 subwoofer amplifier with DSP.

The room has a comfortable lived-in feeling, with different coloured lighting settings to set the ambience. The picture is clear and focused, and the sound fills the room.

The games room and bar features a custom-made billiards table and a Guardians of the Galaxy pinball machine. This is the room where the bridge will connect to the main house and will serve as an entertainment space for guests, family gatherings and intimate parties. LG displays were installed throughout the annex with a 55-in unit in the gym and a 43-in model in the office. In the games room a huge 83-in OLED model was selected. Lake AV & Automation again turned to Wisdom Audio for a rich sound experience in the games room, installing two ICS7a in-ceiling speakers and an S55I in-wall subwoofer. Speakers are powered by a Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 streaming amplifier.

System control

The lighting throughout the annex comes from Lutron with an extensive system built around the HomeWorks QSX processor. Dimmable lighting can be controlled with Paladium keypads installed throughout the annex.

The nerve centre of the installation is the rack room, situated next to the home cinema that houses Control4 EA5 processor, networking equipment and Netvio equipment to handle centralised video distribution.

AV-over-IP video distribution is powered by a Netvio JP4 series centralised dual network controller and Netvio encoders and decoders. Lake AV & Automation installed a DrayTek Vigor router and network traffic is managed by a Cambium 24-port managed PoE network switch and an Araknis 16-port managed network switch.

The greatest challenge in the annex has been automating control and getting the controls to work fluidly before the homeowners fully move in. The Neeo remotes had to be programmed to be simple to use to accommodate guests who may be staying at the annex.

On the video distribution side, each member of the family has their own Skybox, and switching from one user to the next initially caused the system to jam. This was discovered to be a firmware issue and was solved remotely.

This annex is unique in its size and scale, it is the same size as an average home, while being only a portion of what is going to be a spectacularly grand project. We’re looking forward to returning when the main house has been built and to cross through the bridge and go up to the office where there will be a view of the pool and jacuzzi. The landscaped lawns and courtyard will frame this massive project, and HiddenWires will be there to give you more insight into this impressive build.  


Araknis managed PoE network switch

Arcam AV40 AV processor

Arcam PA720 amplifier

Cambium managed PoE network switch

Control4 EA5 processor

Control4 Neeo remotes

Control4 T4 touchscreen

DrayTek Vigor router

JVC N27 projector

Kaleidescape M500 player

Kaleidescape Strato-C 4K Ultra HD mini movie player

Kaleidescape M700 disc vault

Kaleidescape 1U movie server

Kaleidescape Terra movie service

LG 83-in OLED TV

LG 55-in OLED TV

LG 43-in OLED TV

Lyngdorf TDAI01120 2.2 channel streaming amplifier

Lutron HomeWorks QSX processor

Lutron HomeWorks dimmer modules

Lutron HomeWorks Din power modules

Lutron Paladium switches

Lutron HomeWorks input modules

Lutron HomeWorks DMX module

Netvio JP4 series network controller

Netvio encoders/decoders

Netvio 19-in universal 6U rack

Panamorph J1 DCR lens

Projecta cinema screen

Ruckus Unleashed R550 wireless access point

Ruckus Unleashed T350d outdoor access point

SCP CAT6A cables

SCP universal control cables

Wisdom Audio Sage ICS7a in-ceiling speakers

Wisdom Audio S55I RTL 4-in in-wall subwoofer

Wisdom Audio SW-1 DSP subwoofer amplifier

Wisdom Audio P6i point source speakers

Wisdom Audio P4i point source speakers

Wisdom Audio S90i RTL in-wall subwoofers

Wisdom Audio P2i point source speakers


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