While home automation has often been associated with bespoke homes and prestige developers in the past, such technology is moving into the mainstream. We may not see it as standard specification for a while yet, but for house-builders that want to add kudos to their schemes and a high-end edge to their brand, an easy to install home automation system is an excellent way to up their game.
It’s certainly being used as a feature to enhance the appeal of one of Barratt London’s latest developments. As a residential scheme in the heart of Westminster, The Courthouse on Horseferry Road has been designed to appeal to a global audience. Its enviable location means that it already has significant wow-factor for both domestic and overseas residents and investors, but the challenge for the developer is to ensure that the specification meets the expectations of the demanding property buyers willing to pay for the prestige of an address in the heart of the capital.
That’s where Legrand’s Arteor home automation system comes in; not only is the system being used to provide that additional wow-factor buyers are looking for, it has also been specified because its ease of installation, programming and operation ensure that it meets the system design challenges inherent in this particular technology. The development comprises a varied range of apartments from studios to luxury penthouses arranged across 10 floors, involving 129 individually modelled apartments, each with a unique floorplan. Unusually for a development of this type, the home automation system is not only being installed in the penthouses and larger apartments, but in every unit within the development, including the lower priced studios.
Comments Richard Hayward, lead Marketing Manager for Legrand’s building automation systems: “While this is a prestige development in a sought-after location, the fact that home automation has been specified for all 129 apartments demonstrates a move towards it becoming a more mainstream element of contemporary residential developments, which is good news for consumers and good news for integrators. We have definitely experienced a wider take up of our systems from developers and this scheme demonstrates how the flexibility, ease of programming, stylish design and simple-to-operate user interface of the Arteor system all contribute to its developer appeal while overcoming the challenge of installing home automation into so many diverse apartment layouts within such a short installation programme.”
COURTING THE CLIENT
Named after the City of Westminster Magistrates Court that used to occupy the building, The Courthouse’s striking exterior is characterised by Portland stone and bronzed aluminium facades. Apartments are on the market for anywhere between £665,000 and £2.775-million, reflecting both the scheme’s location and its opulence, inside and out.
Legrand’s Arteor home automation system has been specified to provide integrated lighting, heating, air-conditioning and AV control. The smooth lines, sleek finish and recessed installation of the Arteor 10-inch touch screens that form the main user interface for the system and the additional 1.2-inch four function wall-mounted controllers in the bedrooms, are complemented throughout each apartment by Legrand’s Arteor wiring accessories.
“Attention to detail is essential in a scheme like this and small touches like matching the sockets and switches to the wall mounted home automation control screens can mean the difference between homogenous style and a disjointed interior, “ says Richard. “Our Arteor ‘mirror black’ sockets and switches are ideal for contemporary interiors like those at The Courthouse and, because they are based on the same design as the Arteor touch screens, they co-ordinate seamlessly.”
The matching aesthetics between the touch screens and the wiring accessories was one of the features that impressed the developer, along with the functionality of the home automation system itself. Explains Richard King from RJK Multi-room, the home automation specialist that carried out the system configuration and installation: “The client made contact with us to research some market competition and the kind of technology that would meet such high quality design criteria. An original brief involved another manufacturer’s system but when we showed the client what Arteor could do, its versatility and ease of use won them over.”
Much of that versatility and ease of use is contained within the 10-inch Arteor touch screen that forms the main user interface for the system. A sleek and slim-line wall-mounted unit that requires no separate surround, the Arteor 10-inch touch screen utilises the familiar navigation tools commonly used on iOS and Android devices for intuitive end user operation. Providing internet access via the apartment’s Wi-Fi connection and offering the facility to set individually customised profiles, the touch screen enables profiles to be personalised using images, customised control settings and personal preferences including music playlists.
Says Richard Hayward: “Our research confirms that end users are not looking for a status symbol stuck to the wall that they don’t know how to use, but want practical solutions that are simple to operate and can be tailored to meet their specific needs. With the Arteor 10-inch touch screen that’s what we’ve delivered which means that these apartments are suitable for a wide range of buyers, including overseas visitors who want a pied à terre in the city and corporate buyers looking for a company flat.”
The Arteor 10-inch touch screen can be operated by user, control function or room and is wall mounted in the main living area of each apartment, providing dimming and switching of lighting throughout the apartment, under-floor heating control and, where installed, fancoil unit cooling control.
The system also enables control of the AV systems throughout each apartment, including TVs in the living room and bedrooms and speakers throughout. Thanks to the Wi-Fi connectivity offered by the Arteor 10-inch touch screen, content can be accessed from smart phones, tablets or other Internet-enabled devices.
While the Arteor 10-inch touch screen provides control of all functions from a central hub, Legrand’s Arteor 1.2-inch touch screens have been incorporated into the layout to offer additional fingertip control by the bedside.
“While pre-set scenes can be programmed into the system enabling users to activate one touch scenarios such as gradual dimming of the bedroom lights and timed TV switch off for bedrooms, for example, additional controls at the bedside offer extra flexibility,” says Richard Hayworth.
The compact unit offers control of multiple functions, including lighting, temperature, sound and energy management, with up to four scenarios available from each touch screen using customisable icons.
With each apartment featuring its own layout, all had to be individually configured in an installation that lasted just six months. Not only did use of the Arteor system dispense with the need to use multiple manufacturers’ kits to achieve the system requirements, it also enabled faster and easier programming of each individual apartment, utilising Legrand’s ‘My Home’ software tools.
Richard Hayward continues: “With any new-build residential development, the initial programming usually involves demo scenes as it is not yet known who the end user will be. While the scenes were the same for all apartments, the layout was not, so ease of programming was a big positive.”
The My Home software also enables the Arteor system to be integrated with iPad or Android tablets or smartphones, offering the end-user the potential to activate scenes or controls from their mobile device from within the apartment or elsewhere.
It’s one of the many features of the Arteor system that has caught the attention of the developer. As Richard Graham, project director at The Courthouse puts it: “The ease of programming, stylish aesthetics and simple to operate user interface made Legrand’s Arteor system the ideal choice for The Courthouse. This is a showpiece scheme for Barratt London, and Arteor delivers on both looks and functionality, with personalised touch screen displays to enable residents to tailor their own system to their individual preferences.”
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