Right advice makes home technology a natural fit

UV Architects and Inspired Dwellings have collaborated on the complete renovation of a family home between the commons in Wandsworth, London. The challenge to create a fully connected home by transforming the sound, lighting and vision is increasingly given to architects as part of the design brief.

In the case of this project, the owners had their own tech-wish list and allocated a realistic budget to achieve an intuitive and integrated home. The big design idea revolved around a previously hidden view from a tiny original skylight in the loft. Planning was secured for a bold and modern roof extension; a fully glazed top floor bedroom suite offering views of the full London skyline. Downstairs minimally framed full height sliding doors created a fluid link through to the garden. A planned basement level was designed to house a cinema room, a wine store and utility room to hide away all the wiring and kit.

Inspired Dwellings planned technology by adapting and working with the owner’s wish list. Its approach was to suggest alternative suppliers and technologies, as well as ensure good practice throughout the home by providing each room with integrated data points. This meant money was saved by not extending to the spare rooms, but a canvas was created for the future. A RAKO custom lighting control system was specified installed to deliver the architectural vision of different levels of light across walls and ceilings. Drawing sets and plans were co-ordinated from the beginning, and the two teams worked together on site.

The project was led by UV Architects, director Will McGuinness said:

“There can be a perception amongst architects that home technology will blow the budget, but I think we’ve proved it is possible to work realistically and deliver a strong result. In the past we used to suggest home technologies as an extra and not worry too much if someone didn’t go for it, largely because it wouldn’t have made that much difference to the design. Now people rely on technology so rightly they demand and expect smart home technology. It is important to be able to offer the right advice. This project shows how well planned and designed technology is an integral part of the comfort, design, lighting, heating we work hard to create – and it needs to be there from the beginning.”

Rob Sutherland, managing director of Inspired Dwellings added:

“The ground rules for technology in homes have most definitely changed. Communications habits are shaped by a generation of smartphone and tablet device users who just expect the simplicity of these devices to allow them to cram more convenience and comfort into their daily lives. When it comes to installing, the plug and play options may seem appealing, but realistically there many trickier elements to consider, such as getting the sound right in media and cinema rooms and making sure the internet connections is exceptional. All these must be considered first as the basis for any investment.”

Smart home technology is all about making all that is available work practically work for homes; architects are at the forefront of creating the spaces people live in, and it is important to ensure they have the right levels of information and guidance to recommend the right approach for each home. This property has since won a Control 4 award for best whole home integration over £60,000.