This project was initially intended to create a media space for watching sports for our client. The plan was to install a simple projection system, but during our detailed design phase, it became clear that client had much broader interests.
By understanding how this client wanted to use his home, the scope of the project grew organically to include a multiroom audio and video distribution system with smart lighting and shade control. These features complimented the client’s primary aim of owning a system which enabled him to watch multiple channels of sports on the same screen. Later additions included one of Australia’s first residential aroma systems and LED colour change lighting, all operational using his iPad.
Technology and product solutions
Given the client’s interest in watching multiple sports channels on the same screen, we initially considered a videowall. However at the time of design, a new technology was being launched by Savant called SmartTiling; this would enable him to watch up to nine different video sources on the same display and control each source using his iPad. The client was hooked instantly and enquired about having similar functionality in his two bedrooms.
To achieve this, we used a Savant audio/video distribution system with their highly configurable SmartMediaPro range. Utilising the new multi-window video processing modules, we were able to distribute up to six sources (including four Foxtel boxes, an Apple TV and a PS4) to all of his TVs. Savant also acted as his controller, enabling him to use his iPad or a universal remote to intuitively control the system from anywhere in the home. Smooth and reliable video switching can be compromised by the quality of the source. To overcome this, we recommended Savant’s new HD-BaseT output modules and in-wall receivers. The client was very happy with the consistency delivered by this product.
This project continually evolved as the client better understood the various technologies available. He asked us to add a TV to the ensuite bathroom; being a retrofit, this was a little more challenging. However, with the assistance of a trusted builder, we successfully installed a waterproof HDTV at the end of the bath, with an external ceiling speaker so he could hear the sound while having a shower.
As the client realised the potential of the automation system, he trusted us to get creative with add-ons to meet his needs. These included lighting and shade control, and the inclusion of an RGB strip running the length of his apartment. He also loved the idea of changing scents in his living room, so we designed an automated aroma system that allowed him to fill the air with his choice of four scents. Aroma systems had only ever been used in commercial settings in Australia, so the JFK team worked with the supplier Air Aroma to ensure this technology was successfully deployed in a brand new environment. The client was thrilled, with the system exceeding his expectations.
The client’s apartment was entirely wrapped in glass which, as well as creating bright light conditions, created a substantial amount of heat from the sun during the day. He was forced to use air-conditioning to keep the room temperature comfortable. Our solution was the installation of motorised blinds, programmed to shade each area from the sun as it moved around the apartment. By installing Somfy motors, we could take control by integrating the Lutron keypads (for manual control) and the Savant system for automated opening and closing.
The client’s balcony space overlooked a somewhat busy road below, and he specifically wanted to play music while enjoying this space. Concerns over the level of noise originating from the road, we suggested lining the balcony ceiling with colour-matched acoustic panelling then installing a Sonance Landscape audio system. This would ensure the best possible audio quality with minimal visual impact in a confined space.
The entire project was a retrofit into an existing apartment, which posed some great challenges from the outset. The living space was relatively small and the client naturally didn’t want equipment stored locally in the room. We were able to convert a cupboard in his study to house the hardware within a purpose-built rack.
Initially the client had asked for a projection system, but due to ceiling constraints and a tremendous amount of natural light in the living area, we proposed a large 75” HDTV, chosen for its high brightness. Such a large television would dominate the wall space in the relatively small space and the client wanted to conceal it when not in use. We suggested a lifter which would conceal the screen behind a canvas image when switched off, an idea which he loved. Being new to Australia, he wanted the image to be of the Sydney harbour bridge. Unhappy with the quality of stock photo imagery, Justin – a keen photographer – offered to re-shoot the photo from exactly the same location to meet his requirements.
In order to install bracing for the lifter mechanism, the whole plaster wall had to be opened and metal studs removed. This approach meant we could also cut the necessary spaces for speakers and the two subwoofers to ensure optimal positioning in accordance with CEDIA-recommended speaker placement and geometry. Upon opening, we found that the wall cavity narrowed at one end, meaning it was a few millimetres too shallow for the subwoofer. We used the fact that it backed on to the study wall to our advantage, building out the plaster wall on the study side and shaving down the plaster thickness internally to fit the subwoofer.
After solving the noise issue on the balcony, it became a challenge to install speakers that would sound great wherever you were without distract from the appearance and décor. We deployed six satellite speakers and a hardscape subwoofer in a high-low array configuration to give the sound spread. These were mounted below the balcony ceiling and planted in to specially selected plant pots, which also provided us with a method of concealing the cables.
This project is a great example of how an initial scope of works can grow from being a single, functional system to something that enhances how the owner uses and interacts with his home. Our investment of time into design integrity and courage to recommend new and untried technology to meet the demands of the project ultimately led to the client having an exceptional experience both through the JFK process, and in the enjoyment of his home once the project was complete.