Arek Palka of AP Arcon Construction was given a hugely challenging proposal: develop a spacious, luxurious, five-bedroom family home on a neglected plot of land, flanked by existing properties.
On the surface the house seems akin with neighbouring residences, but inside is a different story. Although located on a narrow plot of land in the heart of London, this seemingly ordinary new-build mews property was intended to be a technophile’s dream, combining beautiful interior design with the robust security of a bunker.
Andrew Lucas London was selected during the tender process as the company offering the most comprehensive and technically sound solution for the unique technological challenges of the build, including devising a home cinema in a third-floor basement that could double as an impenetrable panic room.
This fortified area features a bomb-proof security door and separate power and water supplies, as well as an independent phone line and mobile signal boosting equipment to provide the ultimate physical security solution.
This security backbone runs throughout the property: intruder and fire alarms are fully integrated into the whole-house Crestron control system, while provisions have been made for communication with biometric access control and sensors are able to activate anti-flooding pumps in case of emergency.
Across three subterranean basement floors, the house features a cinema, gym, sauna, jacuzzi, two panic rooms, and a swimming pool with a mechanised floor that, when elevated, serves as a dance floor and hosting space. Crestron lighting control allows scene lighting to be set throughout the property to enhance the ambience and compliment the exquisite interiors.
Throughout the property, a Crestron home automation system offers simple management of all the house’s various systems. Easy access is enabled through in-wall touch panels and wireless touchscreens, positioned in every bedroom and all communal areas; these can also be used intercoms for intra-property communication between occupants. The walls of the property feature 35 kilometres of cabling to distribute automated systems into every room in this seven-storey home.
To further enhance ease of use, Andrew Lucas designed a bespoke user interface with customised icons in order to make navigation as intuitive as possible. The same interface is available across the property via an iPad app.
This luxury property features 18 separate audio zones, controlled by multi-channel amps, providing optimum listening conditions in all areas of the property. A multitude of media sources, including a Kaleidescape film server, Sky HD and Bluray, are distributed to eleven different TVs and screens in various rooms.
Both the audio and video systems needed to be as unobtrusive as possible; to achieve this, Andrew Lucas installed a number of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers, as well as recessed TV units, to minimise the disruption that this equipment would otherwise have brought to the natural lines and elegance of the space.
The home cinema was conceived as the final indulgence in a project already adorned by sophisticated intelligent technology throughout. This space needed to match the luxurious nature of the rest of the property without recourse to the lavish levels of spending that a home of this nature might normally elect for.
Given the size restrictions of the room, a compromise had to made between seating and sound; once the implications had been explained, the client elected to focus on comfort over optimum audio positioning. To this end, luxurious (and larger) sofas were used for the seating, rather than purpose-built cinema seats. This meant placing the second row of seats closer to the back wall of the room than what would have been the optimum position. To compensate for the spatial confines, the floor at the back of the room was raised artificially to improve the viewing experience for the rear row of seating.
The interior of the room was fully rendered in 3D imaging before construction commenced to conform that the client was happy with the proposed solution. The room received a full course of acoustic treatment prior to installation to ensure the best possible sound quality; meanwhile all metal elements in the structure, including the air-conditioning vents, were tested for vibrations to be certain they would not generate undesired noise at low frequencies.
Access to the centralised Kaleidescape Movie Server puts hundreds of movies at users’ fingertips, but occupants also have access to Sky+ HD, a dedicated 3D Blu-Ray player and an Xbox Game Console to ensure the ultimate movie and gaming experience. A local media point was also added, meaning extra equipment can quickly and easily be included if required.
A truly unique project, Kensington is a sublime marriage of architecture, construction and technology, resulting in an extraordinary luxury smart home that offers the very best of intelligent home living.
In our client’s words:
Andrew Lucas did a great job on this project. They worked with a minimum of fuss to get the job done quickly and efficiently and to very exacting standards. They were the only team involved in the project who didn’t go over the agreed budget.
It is always much more pleasing aesthetically when the evidence of all this technology is tucked away out of sight and it’s just about the viewer and the screen or the interface; Andrew Lucas kept all the wiring and the hardware of the technology out of sight wherever possible.
I have had a number of comments from various people who have come to try out the cinema room and been surprised to hear how small our budget was. The surround sound is fantastic and the quality of the image on the large screen is very impressive. Despite putting it together on a shoestring, the experience is really something. Even with more money to spend, I can’t imagine how we could have done it any better.
It is hard to put a precise figure on the value added by the expert installation of these integrated systems, but my best guess would be that I have added well in excess of a million pounds to the value of the property, which would represent a 400% return on the money I invested in that side of the project.
Technology used in this property:
Secure cinema room
Bowers & Wilkins
Andrew Lucas Bespoke