Luxurious living fused with tech

Meticulous planning sees cutting-edge technology seamlessly intertwine with stunning architecture to create this luxury home in Sandton. HiddenWires finds out more from integrator BNC Technology.

It was five years ago when BNC Technology first started work on this new-build home in South Africa. The residence, House Sandton, was envisaged as a smart home, packed with technology that delivered enticing entertainment options, unrivalled comfort and robust security, all the while remaining easy to control and manage for the family that would live in it.

A common complaint from integrators working on residential projects is that they are not involved early enough, missing out on crucial planning meetings with architects and other trades that can negatively impact the final result.

That was not the case at House Sandton; BNC Technology worked closely with Nico van der Muelen Architects from the outset and enjoyed close collaboration with other trades involved in bringing the project to life. Not only did this enable the integrator to have input in crucial planning decisions, it also helped the homeowners keep a close eye on progress and costs as all contractors met weekly to discuss the project.

As work got underway, thanks to meticulous early planning and close collaboration between trades, it seemed like nothing could go wrong. And then Covid hit. Work halted and when it resumed BNC Technology were faced with several extra challenges which would require some creative thinking to solve. 

The delay meant some of the products had changed from the original specification with newer models making some of the technologies chosen obsolete. While this was a straight swap for some elements such as the control touch panels and remotes, there were areas that required more attention. For example, where speakers were integrated into the walls or ceilings, areas had been cut out to house the cabinets. When selecting newer models BNC Technology had to ensure they fit the original measurement.

Simple control, complex integration

The technology specification for the project was ambitious and, while technology was integrated into every corner of the home, one of the client’s priorities was that it be easy to control and manage so it became part of the everyday lives of the family residing in House Sandton.

BNC Technology used its expertise to guide the clients in the right direction with the technology selected, but also to make sure the homeowners understood how the home could work for them.

Jessica le Roux, head of marketing at BNC Technology, says: “We wanted to upgrade the lives of the family that would be residing there, and for the final outcome to transform their lives.”

The impressive residence has five bedrooms including a master bedroom suite with dressing room and plenty of spaces for relaxing, entertaining and living that include a gym, wine cellar, dining and kitchen area, a lanai (or covered outdoor area), a family room, games room, studies for both the children and parents and a staff utility room.

Technology is seamlessly interwoven into the fabric of the building with easy access to control and many functions automated through the programming of presets and the use of sensors installed throughout the home.

A Control4 control system sits at the heart of the project, which Mbali Xulu, electronic systems designer at BNC Technology, describes as a: “full turn-key automation system handling the lighting, multi-room audio and the intercom system.” A Control4 CA-10 automation controller and EA-5 entertainment and automation controller are the brains of the system and video signals are routed through an AVPro Edge AC-Axion-8 AV matrix switch paired with HDBaseT receivers. BNC Technology also supplied the homeowners with Control4 Neeo remotes and a mixture of in-wall and portable T4 series 10-in touchscreens.

A Pakedge router was installed and network traffic is managed with Pakedge managed switches to ensure failsafe video streaming and media distribution throughout the home.  

Before you even enter the home, technology integration begins in the garage where a sensor triggers automated lighting to illuminate a car or someone coming up the driveway and from there the garage door opens. Homeowners can access further controls via Lutron Pico car visor clips supplied by BNC Technology. Once in the garage, homeowners can use a ‘home’ button to switch on lights in the common areas inside the home.

An extensive Lutron lighting installation is, along with DALI-controlled colour switching, a standout feature of the project. Remote access to the lighting system is facilitated with a Lutron Connect Bridge which links a Lutron HomeWorks QS processor to the cloud. Lighting control signals are communicated using the DMX communication protocol and Palladium keypads and Pico scene keypads were installed for easy control.  

Throughout the areas of the dwelling lighting is used creatively, sensitively and sometimes to dramatic effect. One highlight is how a spectacular glass staircase, a centrepiece of the home, is lit up with colour-changing luminaries. Xulu says: “The residents can select the lighting to suit their mood. They can choose to have a relaxing, welcoming atmosphere, or if they feel like partying the staircase can light up accordingly.”

Complex integration was required to achieve the desired effects while also delivering a system that was easy to control so homeowners had the ability to make the most of a powerful and dynamic set up. Further adding to the complexity, BNC Technology had to make sure products from different vendors were integrated and communicating with each other. This required extensive product testing and, as the build progressed, the integrator also had to adjust the set up to increase the size of the lighting circuits.

The living room and outdoor patio together make up what is known as the entertainment area. Glass doors blur the lines between outdoor and indoor, combining the open-air swimming pool with the elegant living room.

The high level of control extends to the entertainment area and the homeowners can manage the swimming pool lights as well. Entertainment was important to the residents of House Sandton and care has been taken over the technology installation to ensure it can be tailored to the specific needs of each member of the family, as well as the type of event they are hosting. Different moods and various gatherings are accommodated with multiple colour themes for the lighting as well as the setting of audio levels.

Sights, sounds and security

When it comes to AV technology, content is served from Apple TVs and DStv satellite entertainment to displays that range from 55-in up to 82-in with Control4 Neeo remotes provided for each screen. Displays were mounted with Vogel’s TV brackets. An additional 32-in display connected to the security system is installed in the kitchen and the staff room also has its own 55-in display.

BNC Technology delivered a richer set up in the games room, adding a Denon AVR and PlayStation 5 to the 82-in display installed in the space. Here, audio is delivered through five Klipsch in-ceiling loudspeakers and an SVS subwoofer.

Continuing with audio, a multi-room system delivers sound to every room in the house via a blend of Klipsch ceiling speakers and Amina Mobius in-wall speakers powered by Audio Control amplifiers. In spaces that required a punchier system, BNC Technology opted for Amina and M&K Sound subwoofers. Audio sources include Apple TV and music can be streamed from the Control4 EA-5 entertainment and automation controller.

BNC Technology took time to explore the needs of the client when it came to intercoms, finding out if the homeowners wanted an intercom system for all calls, only certain calls or parallel calling. To meet the specific needs of the family, BNC Technology settled on a system from Siedle, a German company that is not commonly found in South Africa.

A sophisticated security system was implemented at the home with Luma Surveillance outdoor cameras connected to a Luma Surveillance NVR. The homeowners can view camera footage on displays throughout the home.

BNC Technology worked to centralise a lot of the equipment to keep the spaces throughout the home uncluttered and, in the basement, kitted out the server room with two racks of equipment.

The home features solar panels and a generator as a backup. South Africa poses unique challenges for energy usage as it employs load shedding for its limited electricity supply. With load shedding, South Africans may not have electricity from the grid for four to six hours in a day depending on the area they live, and many homeowners try to use their own source of electricity.

As well as having additional power supplies, energy conservation was also vital. One way this home reduces its energy requirements is through a network of sensors from Faradite, which send commands to switch off technology in areas where inactivity is detected. Xulu explains: “We had to figure out how the areas of the house are used and when, and to know where we could implement the sensors to the best effect.” BNC Technology also wanted to reduce the number of buttons required for control to streamline the home. “The little details, such as having the blinds come down at a preset time not only conserve energy but add to the automated feel of the home,” adds Xulu.

For BNC Technology, ultimately this project was not just about integration; the scope of its work involved having to understand how the client would access control in the best way possible. Even when integration was simple, thinking about how the client could control it on the keypad was sometimes a challenge. For example, the panel next to the garage door needed a dedicated button for each door in the home rather than an interface with options to choose from. It was a bigger technical challenge but ultimately was more streamlined and effective for the client. The extra effort paid off, delivering effective and simple control for friction-free use by the homeowners.

Despite the additional challenges of the pandemic, House Sandton is now complete and home to happy clients. BNC Technology operates remote care through a subscription service and Le Roux explains the clients are “on our Gold option service. We service them three times a year and are always available for call outs.” With plans for a cinema room underway, the journey isn’t over yet.

Tech Spec

AudioControl Architect P2660 amplifier

AudioControl Architect P800 amplifier

AudioControl RS 500 subwoofer amplifier

Amina ALF40 subwoofer

Amina ALF80 subwoofers

Amina Mobius in-wall speakers

Apple TVs 4K 32GB

Araknis AN-210-SW-R-8-POE network switch

Araknis 700 series outdoor wireless access point

AVPro Edge AC-AXION-8 matrix switcher

AVPro Edge AC-EX70-444-RNE HDBaseT receiver

Control4 CA-10 automation controller

Control4 EA-5 entertainment and automation controller

Control4 V2 IO extenders

Control4 Neeo remotes

Control4 T4 series touchscreens

Definition Automation CF48-55 flap-out TV lift

Denon AVR-X2700H AVR

DStv decoders

DStv dish kit

Dynaudio subwoofer

Faradite motion sensors

Furman PL-PRO-DM CE power conditioners

HDAnywhere XTND 2K HDMI extenders

HDAnywhere SPMAX12 splitter

HDAnywhere 10m HDMI cable

Klipsch DS-180-CDT ceiling speakers

Kordz HDMI cables

Luma 510 series outdoor cameras

Luma 510 series NVR

Lutron Connect Bridge

Lutron HomeWorks QS processor

Lutron Palladium keypads

Lutron Pico scene keypads

Lutron Pico car visor clips

Pakedge PowerPak 8I power distribution units

Pakedge managed and unmanaged switches

Pakedge RK-1 router

Pakedge WA-2200-O-1 outdoor access point

PHD Solutions HDMIDAC2 HDMI audio extractor

Seidle intercom

Somfy RS485 transmitter

Sonos Arc soundbar

Sonos Gen3 subwoofer

SVS SB1000 subwoofer

Triad TS-AMS24 audio matrix

Vogel’s THIN550 TV brackets

Vogel’s WALL 3305 TV brackets

Vogel’s TVM 3445 TV bracket


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