Scandinavian glass house

Bringing together some of the top workmanship in the country, this family home reveals the best of Scandinavian and modern home design, integrated with high-end technology. Amy Wallington looks beyond the walls.

Located on the Iceland coast, just outside of Reykjavik, this property demonstrates how technology can be incorporated into almost any home design. The two-year project, costing roughly $250,000 USD, involved integrator TSP Smart Spaces (TSP), their Icelandic subsidiary, Nordic Smart Spaces, as well as architects Steve Christer and Margrét Harðardóttir at Studio Grandi, and interior designer Selma Agustdottir.

Well-versed in the world of home automation and technology from a previous house, the client wanted to improve on what he had before to include high-quality audio solutions.

Michael Oh, president and founder of TSP says: “Sourcing the best in Iceland, the owner put together a team of architects and designers to create this stunning home. It features a Scandinavian look with plenty of glass to provide great natural light and a clean, modern look. The client was looking to bring stunning audio solutions to his home as well as home automation for AV, lighting, and shade control, but for the technology to have minimal aesthetic impact.”

Originally built in 2006, the owner bought the property in 2016 and it immediately became his project, changing the layout of the house entirely. This involved taking down walls, rewiring all the electrics, and changing the plumbing.

“With this major reconstruction came the opportunity to have a unique level of smart home technology, for instance having in-wall and in-ceiling subwoofers,” explains Oh. “By working directly with the architect and designers from design through to implementation of the entire project, we were able to ensure that the required infrastructure and power needed for the smart home technology was considered at every step.”

Disappearing act

Having the technology as hidden as possible or completely invisible was very important to the design-conscious owner, but the open-plan layout of the house made this a bit tricky. The technology that couldn’t be hidden had to be subtle and blend in with the interior décor. Savant’s control options mixed with Basalte keypads allowed the décor not to be compromised. Better still, Amina invisible speakers were integrated into the walls and ceilings to make them disappear entirely.

Choosing the appropriate products for this install was fairly straightforward. “TSP Smart Spaces and Nordic Smart Spaces have been working with industry-leading companies in the smart home market for years and have developed partnerships with these companies directly to always ensure we are using the right technology for each project,” Oh conveys. “We believe a smart home is only as good as the sum of its parts, so every piece of technology we integrate is meticulously reviewed and tested before we choose it.”

“As with any project of this complexity, communication is always key.”

Working directly with the homeowner, as well as his team of architects and designers, TSP was able to specify high-end solutions that not only created an integrated smart home system, but also lent itself to the specific design of this luxury home.

One challenge TSP faced was having to integrate so many different products under one control system. He adds: “Speakers from Amina, lighting control from KNX, and Lutron shades all needed to be controlled from a single compatible and intuitive system. For this, we turned to Savant, whose products are well-known for their ability to easily integrate with almost any third-party solution.”

Open concept

The downstairs living areas take on an open-plan concept, and consist of the living room, dining room, kitchen, study, and bedrooms. To cater to this design and to ensure that the whole-home audio delivers even and strong sound coverage across the entire area, TSP installed 20 Amina Edge5 Invisible Loudspeakers into the walls and ceilings. To deliver powerful bass, these are paired with five Amina ALF subwoofers.

Distributing the audio system are three Savant Pro Audio 4 devices. Oh reveals: “Savant Pro Audio 4 units provide an all-in-one music solution that includes a 50W amplifier, integrated audio processing, and four zones of high-quality audio that syncs between rooms for music through Savant Music and other popular streaming services. Together, these units provide streaming, AVB-based distribution, and amplification to a total of 12 zones.”

Amina’s ALF subwoofers posed an issue during the install, as Oh explains: “The sheer size of the subwoofers created a logistical challenge in their installation. The ALF120 subwoofers are 63” x 13” x 4” and weigh over 40lbs a piece. We installed these into a ceiling that also needed to save room for wiring, HVAC and lighting, so carving out a dedicated space for the subwoofers was critical.

“At TSP/NSS, we stress the importance of our ‘design, build, support’ process and the design aspect in this project was crucial to navigating this challenge successfully. Early in the design process, we were able to create enough space to house the speakers in the ceiling as well as other pieces of technology that needed to fit.”

A Lutron HomeWorks QS processor is used to integrate 24 QS Lutron Sivoia QS Shades with the KNX-based lighting control system. The virtually silent shades were installed throughout the home and the users can control them through the Savant Pro App or the Savant remotes around the house.

Five Savant Pro remotes are used to control the home’s various automated features, including lighting, heating, audio, video, shades, and access control. The homeowners can also use the Savant Pro App on their mobile devices in a single app interface for control at home or remotely.

For access control, TSP specified a 2N-based camera and door entry unit to give the owners the ability to see who is at the door, talk to them, and allow them into the home. This can also be done remotely through their mobile devices. A 2N fingerprint reader is installed to give access to house staff when they are required.

The experience

The project was completed at the beginning of 2020 and the client has since moved to a new house and sold onto new homeowners who are enjoying the automated home experience and the technology installed.

The discreet solutions blend in with the interior décor and, visually, it is hard to tell the house is any different to a non-automated home.

“We believe a smart home is only as good as the sum of its parts, so every piece of technology we integrate is meticulously reviewed and tested before we choose it.”

“By implementing smart technology throughout the entire home, the users are able to control their AV experience, lighting and shades all from one integrated system,” says Oh, reflecting on the project. “This empowers the users to control their home wherever they are and however they would like. The audio solutions installed from Amina also provide an invisible aural experience that integrates high-quality audio into every room in the home. Our solutions are built to stand the test of time and can easily be upgraded as technology develops further.”

Although the teams worked together well and TSP was involved early on, this could have been improved in order to create an even more high-end solution. Oh adds: “As with any project of this complexity, communication is always key. We had initially specified Lutron drapery which would have added another level of luxury to the project, but with the design of the windows, there was little room for the drapery to be hidden anywhere when open. Ultimately, that part of our design had to be scrapped but better coordination with the design team might have helped to allow us to add this to the project. Still, it’s hard to be disappointed with the end product.”

Cinema

Since completion, TSP have been back to site to install TVs for the new homeowners and upgrade the Savant remotes to the latest model. The owners can contact the integrator when they need any support or maintenance to any of the systems in the home and they will come out and do what is required.

In the future, the homeowners are looking to complete the property with a home cinema. “The original plans involved an optional cinema room that would utilise Amina audio, Savant control, Arcam AVR and a 4K home theatre projector, but that didn’t end up going ahead,” says Oh. “However, we believe the new owners will bring this to their home in the future.”

 

Tech Spec

2N Access Control System Camera and Door Entry Unit

2N Fingerprint Reader

Amina ALF120 Subwoofers

Amina ALF80 Subwoofer

Amina Edge5 Invisible Loudspeakers

Basalte Keypads

KNX-Based Lighting Colour System

Lutron HomeWorks QS Processor

Lutron Sivoia QS Shades

Savant Pro App

Savant Pro Audio 4

Savant Pro Remotes

 

Images: Gunnar Sverrisson