Deservedly taking home the Best Integrated Home £100K-250k gong at this year’s CEDIA awards, Woelf had to contend with some seriously challenging structural issues to deliver the performance this exacting client needed.
Woelf is a six-year-old Belgian based CI company, owned and run by the extremely capable, Jan Martens.
Jan explains: “I had a technological oriented education, I saw many people struggling with technology. For me technology was something to make lives easier, but in reality it was a nightmare for many. Fresh out of school I decide to start my own company to help and improve technology into people’s lives.
“It started first in giving advice in technology and now we see ourselves as technology architects: You have the architect, he is building the house; you have the interior guy, he is choosing all the fancy paints and carpets; and then you have us, the nerds, we combine all your technology that people provide and make an interface that it is easy to use for the client.”
As far as this particular project is concerned, Jan says: “I met the client during a network event, where we had a common friend. He decided to give me a small test project to see how I worked and how the system was working. The project in question was for his father’s place, where he needed to automate audio, curtains, video. So after the project, he said: ‘My father is 78 and I see him running around with his iPhone. If he can do that, I can do it.’ So there was the beginning of the Loft Project.
The original brief was simple. The customer loves entertainment and wanted a system that really moved some air, but wanted everything to be simple and completely integrated.
Jan says: “Like a tree, most of my projects grow and you find features that would be nice to include. You need to have a bond with each project. In this way you can really get the maximum out of it.”
The Golf Loft project is a top floor, 900 Square meter, open-plan penthouse with a private golf court on the roof.
The client business focuses on real estate, this project needed to be a showcase for his partners, colleagues and friends.
Jan explains: “Our company took care of the entire technological integration: smart lighting, programming of the keypads, multi-room audio/video, high-end audio rooms, as well as automation of heating, pool and wellness control, security integration, intercom integration, window integration and shade integration.
“We even automated the owner’s personal elevator in such a way that when he leaves his loft, the elevator automatically comes to the fifth floor and opens by itself. All this without even entering the security code every time. To the owner this is one of the most convenient features of the automation of his penthouse.”
Control4 was chosen to operate the home, with the main reason being that the client like the interface over KNX, Savant, AMX and Crestron.
The materials chosen such as marble on the floor and the amount of glass presented some serious issues for the audio performance.
Jan explains: “With a marble floor and 33 meter floor to ceiling glass window, the amount of reverberation and reflection made a poor acoustic environment. The second challenge was the requirement of the client to be able to play loud enough when he is entertaining guests.
“The Wisdom Audio Line Source was the perfect solution. This technology helped lowering the floor and ceiling reflection and therefore increase clarity. The Line source also has a much more consistent output over distance allowing guest to get the same experience sitting at the table of all the way at the bar.
“The Media Room side of the open space was easier as the seating area is close to the TV and the Sound pressure level require is much less demanding and less engaging on the room.”
The Wisdom Audio Line Source speakers were also combined with the company’s SC1 Equalizer, so the install team could further EQ the sound to an even better balanced performance.
The project also boasts custom made speaker cabinets with custom made subwoofer grills.
As the entire building runs on the KNX standard, the install team also needed to integrate this into the owner’s house.
With the flexibility of DALI and the combination of Basalte Keypads, the owner has a house where the lighting will keep on working even if automation were to fail.
Some of the functions are directly implemented in KNX, other advanced functions are available and adjustable in Control4.
Jan also made the choice to control the floor heating with the design keypads from Basalte, which have an integrated thermostat.
The visualization of the temperature is done within Control4. In case automation were to fail, Woelf provided a centralized KNX thermostat in as backup.
The entire building also works with a SIP communication system, which was also integrated into the apartment’s automation system.
Jan says: “In this way the client can use his multi-room speaker as a door bell, he is able to contact the concierge at the ground level or open the garage doors and access doors, which all have intercoms, so visitors can come in.”
A big music fan, some sort of multi-zone system was a must.
Jan says: “As multi-room system we made the choice to use the fairly priced Sonos system. As there was no need in the other rooms for a high-end audio system, this seemed to be appropriate choice for these zones.
“The project also has six video zones for which we used a Control4 8×8 HDMI matrix with analogue output. This way we can connect the two high-end audio zones using HDMI in combination with a receiver and the other video zones with analogue audio out connected directly to the Sonos System.
Not to be left out, the kitchen area was also included in the project.
Since the hood of the kitchen was located at a height over three meters, it needed to be controlled by the automation system.
Jan adds: “We also installed a moveable glass wall, behind the gass fire, to cover all the devices like a toaster, juicer, etc. Here we used a TV lift system to which we connected a glass plate. With the automation system and the keypads the client can now hide all his equipment behind a false glass wall.”
In a property with such a large amount of glass, ambient light control is important.
Jan explains: “The project counts six drapes, 18 blinds and three windows which are all automated. The automation consists of closing the windows when there is a fire alarm and opening the drapes when the wake up alarm goes off in the master bedroom.”
Clearly a big fan of the finished project, the client says: “I was never a fan of new technology, but as real estate developer, I had to adapt and follow the trends.
“I met several integrators but I chose Jan to integrate all the technologies that are in my house, from heating to Wi-Fi, to opening my windows.
“Since I live in this house, I don’t see or feel the automation, technology or music and video that Jan placed (maybe I won’t pay him) It just feels as a part of my house that is seamlessly integrated within the rest.
“I know I am a demanding client but: the finishing, passion and service that Jan delivers, is amazing! I already hired the team for my next three projects.”
But what is Jan’s favourite part of the project?
“Although the overall combined integration is the most exciting, the best feature is so simple that a lot of people will laugh, the automation of the elevator.
“Since the client has his own personal elevator. It was controlled by a code. But having a code or button to go down on your personal floor didn’t make any sense; especially when you want to go down in the morning and in one hand you have your coffee and in the other your laptop.
“So we combined this with a motion sensor. When the motion sensor starts picking up motion in the client’s hallway the lift will go to his floor automatically and open the doors for him.”
2 Wisdom Audio L75 Line Source Loudspeaker
2 Wisdom Audio P38i Point Source Loudspeakers
2 Wisdom Audio S90i Regeneration Transmission Line Subwoofers
1 Wisdom Audio SC1 Electronic Equalizer
2 Wisdom Audio P2i In Wall Surround Speakers
2 Parasound A51 5 Channel Amp
2 Parasound A23 2-channel amp
1 Luxul XBR-4400 Router
3 Luxul XMS-1024 Network Switch
1 Luxul XMS-1008P 8 Ports POE Switch
Basalte Sentino and Auro keypads
1 Synology RS814+ Nas Drive
1 Marantz UD7007 BluRay Player
2 Marantz AV7701 Pre Amp
3 Samsung UE75F8000 LED TV
2 Apple TV
6 Sonos Connect Amp
2 Sonos Connect Streamer
3 CYP HDBT HDMI Ballun
10 KEF Ci160QS In-Ceiling Speakers
2 Bose 251 Exterior Speakers