Innovation completes luxury oasis

Seán Holland spoke to Sawan Nichani, owner of Macbee, about this stunning installation in India that won best integrated home in the ultra-luxury section at the CEDIA awards.

System integrator Macbee undertook a whole-home technology installation for one of the largest private residences in India, owned by a tech-savvy client that works in the pharmaceutical industry.  

Getting in at the very start of the project allowed Macbee to collaborate with the design and MEP (mechanical, electrical and plumbing) teams from the offset. Barring a few electrical contractors who laid down the cables, the entire installation team was made up of in-house personnel from Macbee who handled everything from AV, lighting and shading, to HVAC, BMS and security as well as the control and automation systems to tie it all together. 

Architectural and interior design work was carried out by Habitat Architects, who ensured that Macbee had the necessary spaces to accommodate technical equipment and enabled them to plan the infrastructure effectively. Nichani said: “With meticulous planning and attention to detail, we were able to achieve a seamless integration of all project components, while keeping a keen eye on the budget and timeline.”

Automation on a large scale

Macbee has become a de-facto installation company for large-scale projects but even by its standards the project was a massive undertaking. The residence spans approximately 21,000 sq m within a total space of 60,000 sq m and contains a main building, pool house, an outhouse, a fort house and landscaped gardens. 

With automation, system monitoring and centralised, one-touch control from anywhere on the client’s wish list Macbee had to make sure the huge project was tightly integrated with different elements of technology communicating effectively across all zones.

Nichani described the client as: “A tech geek akin to Iron Man who loves to be able to monitor and analyse any and every piece of data he can get his hands on.” Using the client’s enthusiasm to create a special home provided Macbee with the platform to create a functional space with some extraordinary elements. 

Macbee delivered an advanced level of automation on this project: an array of data-capturing sensors harvests information about every aspect of the home from information on solar energy and HVAC systems, to data on humidity and UV levels. Data feeds back into the systems and, combined with deep levels of programming, delivers spaces that are comfortable and work seamlessly for the home’s occupants. 

Automation was also used to minimise the electricity footprint through timed scenarios, simplify the management of complex systems, reduce costs and support sustainability goals.

Control functions, including multiple custom-programmed scenarios, are handled by Crestron processors and, using Crestron, Macbee developed a custom app. Ninety-one Jung keypads offer intuitive user interfaces, while deeper control can be accessed by a 10-in Crestron touchpanel on each floor of the property. The front end keypads are provided by KNX which are used to make Crestron communicate with the keypads. 

There are eight video zones in the main building, the bedroom features Sony OLED while the family room features a larger LG OLED display. The four video zones in the outhouse feature a mix of LG and Sony OLED displays and one Christie projector. Video in each zone is served using an Axion 8 HDBaseT matrix switcher from AVPro Edge. Video sources, including four satellite set-top boxes and four Apple 4K TV’s, were centrally positioned in the main server rack and connected to all the rooms via the matrix switchers. 

Curating a smart home

When it comes to audio, the home is divided into 10 zones in the main building, six zones in the outhouse and two zones in the garden and pool area, all cabling for audio and IT were provided by Kordz. Sonos was chosen throughout the building, allowing the client to stream music from Spotify and Apple Music via Airplay.

Macbee turned to K-Array for loudspeakers, citing the brand’s wide range and capability to deliver high SPL from small units. Three K-Array Azimut-KAMUT2L audio systems were installed. Twenty-six further K-Array loudspeakers and line-arrays were deployed supported by a range of K-Array subwoofers and powered by K-Array amplifiers. The tiny K-Array Lyzard units were installed in the passageways of the main building and the outhouse. 

In addition Macbee used K-Array’s K-Gear brands extensively installing satellite and ceiling speakers, subwoofers and amplifiers from its range of audio products. Outside audio is served by SoundTube SM590I-II outdoor surface mount loudspeakers.

The master bedroom has a 5.1 set up powered by an Anthem amplifier and delivered through a Paradigm Décor 1SC soundbar, customised to match the width of the TV and paired with ceiling speakers and sub-woofers.

A huge undertaking was lighting as the system design included more than 4,000 lighting fixtures, most of which run on a dimming protocol. This took countless hours of installation time but also to check each light was working in harmony with the control system and the other lights around it. The scale of the project required expertise in planning, execution and on-going maintenance. The mix and match of various lighting solutions required a great deal planning. Macbee implemented a mix of different control protocols with DALI heavily used and supported by PhaseCut, 0-10 Volt dimming protocols and on/off modules.  The dynamic lighting uses ProtoPixel and custom luminaires designed by Macbee. 

Lighting is synchronised with the astronomical clock so they adjust to the time of day and various lighting scenarios were pre-programmed to suit different needs and uses. 

Due the sheer size of the integrated home, appropriate security measures had to be put in place to protect the homeowner and their property, including surveillance systems and intrusion detection. Forty wireless window and door sensor intrusion alarms were installed, while 85 CCTV cameras (running on Unifi Ubiquiti) monitor the property. All security systems link back to the owner’s phone, tablet, bedroom TV and main security cabin. 

There was a panic button installed in the client's mother's room, which, when triggered, will immediately send an emergency message to the client's phone and tablet. This feature provides an added layer of security and peace of mind, ensuring that the client can respond quickly and effectively in the event of an emergency.

The party room

The outhouse is the party area and the pièce de resistance of the entire project. Nichani noted that “the client was highly receptive to new ideas, none more so than in the entertainment areas which saw a collaborative effort in the design phase”. 

The client has a strong enthusiasm for both sound and lighting, with this in mind Macbee crafted a unique technology experience, incorporating custom K-array speakers capable of producing sound levels of up to 136 dB SPL with integrated dynamic lighting that synchronises with the audio, along with an array of over 20 lighting effects developed through custom-coded shaders. Macbee employed Claypaky’s Tambora Batten, a high-powered LED batten fixture, that features advanced pixel mapping capabilities and a unique three-layer selection. 

The core design element of the party room is the dynamic lighting, including the ceiling lights, cove lights, bar back panel lights and strobe lights. The room is designed with 28,800 RGBWW individual addressable pixel lighting and 6,000 points RGBWW fibre optics.

The party room has four main scenarios to create different ambient effects in the room.  The ‘Star Dance’ features stars bouncing off the individual addressable RGBWW pixel bar back panel, creating a dynamic effect.  ‘The Cloud’ is created using the bar's back panel lighting which is programmed in Python script to create a floating cloud effect that is constantly morphing and delivering, as Nichani says, “a design that will not be repeated for a lifetime”. 

The ‘Warm White’ scenario is designed to create a cozy and welcoming atmosphere; in this setting, warm white lights illuminate the cove and bar back panel, creating a soft glow. The ‘Just Strobe’ scenario activates four Claypaky ambient multi-colour strobe lights, creating a vibrant lighting effect. This feature is carefully programmed to ensure that the strobe lights are synchronised with the music.

A Christie DW8630-GS laser projector was installed on a Future Automation lift, so it is only visible when in use and it fires onto a dropdown screen. 

Bringing an extensive project together 

Although Macbee is renowned for taking on large projects, the size of this installation was still a major challenge. The project involved the integration of several systems that were distributed across different locations, necessitating the installation of dedicated server rooms in both the main house and the outhouse. The backend equipment is held in multiple rack rooms, and there are distribution panels within the house as well as in the landscaped gardens. The site was designed using WiFi 6 which enables multiple devices to connect to a single access point simultaneously. The key challenge was to ensure seamless interconnectivity between these systems, despite their physical separation. 

Whilst the project it vast, it has many features that make the client feel like it is a home that suits their lifestyle. Prayer music is programmed to play twice daily, at 7am and 7pm, for a duration of 30 minutes, in both the dedicated prayer room and the main building's passage. This keeps the client’s routine without having to manually put the music on every day. 

Macbee offers remote assistance and active system monitoring through a combination of cloud software solutions such as Domotz and Peplink's InControl 2, along with a dedicated remote management PC installed on-site. A major component of Macbee’s overall work is in the follow-up, preventing any faults and updating the systems while being available if the client has any issues.

Tech Spec

Anthem - MRX 740 AV receiver

Anthem MDX 16 amplifier

Anthem MDX 8 amplifier

APC rack PDUs

Apple iPads

Apple TVs 4K

AV Pro Edge Axion 8 matrix switcher

AV Pro Edge HDMI matrix switchers

Claypaky Tambora batton

Crestron DIN-AP4 4-Series Control Systems

Crestron DIN-8SW8-I 8-Channel lighting control modules

Crestron DSP-1281 Avia 12x8 DSP with Dante

Crestron DIN-HUB Cresnet distribution hubs

Crestron DIN-1DIMU4 universal lighting control modules

Crestron DIN Rail Universal Dimmer, 1 feed, 4 channels

Crestron GLS-ODT-C-CN occupancy sensors

Crestron Dual-Technology Occupancy Sensor

Crestron TSR-310 handheld touchscreen remotes

Crestron DIN-4DIMFLV4 dimmer modules

Crestron CP4 control systems

Crestron TSW touchscreens

Future Automation n-TTR tabletop TV rotators

Future Automation PD projector lifts

Grandstream GRP2634 IP Phones

Grandstream WP820 Wifi Phones

Intesis BACnet MS/TP to BACnet IP Router

K-Array Azimut-KAMUT2L audio systems

K-Array KSC18P subwoofers

K-Array Dragon-KX12 speakers

K-Array Kommander amplifiers

K-Array Kayman KY102 line arrays

K-Array Lyzard line arrays

K-Array Rumble subwoofers

K-Array Thunder subwoofers

K-Array Tornado-KT2C ceiling speakers

K-Gear GCF3W ceiling speakers

K-Gear GS18 subwoofers

K-Gear GH4 satellite speakers

K-Gear GA amplifiers

Kordz cables

Faradite motion sensors

Netgear 48-port managed switch

Paradigm Décor 1 SC soundbar

Paradigm Defiance subwoofer

Peplink access points

Peplink SD switches

Phase-Technology CI loudspeakers

Phase Technology F12-II subwoofers

Samsung 22-in LED monitors

Sonos Arc soundbar

Sonos Port streamers

Sonos Roam smart speaker

Sonos Sub wireless subwoofer

Soundcraft 16-channel digital mixer 

SoundTube SM590I-II speakers

Trinnov Altitude16 processor

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