The Campden Hill area of west London sits high on a hill defined by tree-lined streets of Victorian houses that form part of the Phillimore Estate.
Beyond the 19th-century facades, modern day living has transformed the interior architecture of these grand houses including one where the owners wanted extensive technology throughout.
The project marked a professional coming together of mixed talents: through the elegant front door stepped architects from Studio Indigo, interior designer Ngila Boyd and Sizebreed builders.
All worked together with custom AV installer and system integrator Domodo to conceive and execute a design that was clear, cohesive and spread across five stories of early Victorian fittings and finishes.
A prerequisite of the client was that all electronics were to be rendered invisible to give a natural flow to the home and allow the spirit of the house to live on.
Domodo is a CEDIA certified international system integrator with 20 years of experience as a custom AV and home networking installer in the high-end residential market in the US. The company only recently expanded its operation to the UK in 2013 and is based in central London.
The four-staff set up tackles home installation project management, sales and marketing.
The company expects to see a lot more growth in years to come and the Campden Hill gig will do no harm.
Under Domodo’s supervision, 30 Amina invisible loudspeakers went in over the five floors and 16 zones.
Amina was an easy choice for the homeowners: not only did the technology meet the aesthetic criteria, but its sound and room-filling qualities were excellent.
“Right now the high-end home installation business is very referral based,” explains Domodo managing director Domenico Crapanzano. “Most new business comes through a company’s previous work and projects. Our client in Campden Hill was introduced to Domodo through a referral via one of our US partners.”
Amina was a perfect choice for a property where subtlety and style were crucial. The loudspeakers are usually installed below a final skim coat of finishing plaster, drywall compound or mud.
But they can also be successfully installed using lime plaster, wood panelling and other surface materials. Walls and ceilings are then painted or wallpapered to the client’s taste.
And the clients’ tastes were well-considered, stylish and expensive: “The investment for this project was so large and both homeowners had very clear expectations that remained firm throughout the lifecycle of the project. The lady of the house did not want any electronics to interfere with the aesthetics of the property. She was concerned with the look and functionality of the system.
“The man of the house wanted the latest technology, seamless integration and the ability to remotely control and monitor all of the different systems and devices. It was really important to have a means of controlling and monitoring all of the different connected devices and systems both in the home and remotely.”
Amina Evolution series was used throughout the family home, including the five bedrooms, office, dining room, drawing room, gym, staff room, AV room, library and dressing room.
The two 5.1 surround-sound systems in the subterranean playroom and lower-ground family room, as well as gym and office, use Amina AIW550E and incorporate in-wall Velodyne subs.
Domenico says: “The initial and most challenging part of the job was designing and implementing a proper network infrastructure throughout the property. Some 346 individual cable runs were laid from multiple locations in each and every room to a server room in the basement. A total of 16 miles of shielded CAT6a cables were used for this job.
“A Cisco router, four Cisco POE Gigabit switches and a Ruckus Wireless system were installed to provide enterprise-class solutions for wired and wireless connectivity. There is not a single spot within the 6,000 square foot property without full network coverage.”
As well as Amina speakers in all internal music zones, including two home theatres, a QS Homeworks Lutron panelised lighting system was chosen because of the company’s reliability and zero downtime.
But instead of standard Lutron keypads, relatively low-tech but stylish Forbes and Lomax momentary push buttons achieved the owners desired look on the wall.
Control 4 was used as a home automation control system because of its flexibility and easy integration capabilities. The homeowners can control the system via any of 17 Control4 in-wall touch-panels throughout the property, which also allow room-to-room two-way video communication, one of the most used features of the system.
Other technology included a new Domotz cloud-based network monitoring and diagnostic service for home network, an HP ProLiant DL320e G8 Rack Server, VMWare vCenter running Active Directory, DNS, DHCP and Voip PBX Server on separate Vms, NAS Synology RS3412xs, a Synology surveillance station for cameras and three T25 Mobotix 5MP door video-entry stations.
“A home installation this complex always includes many technical challenges. For us the biggest challenge was meeting the original client brief for the system to be invisible. We were able to achieve this with the correct choice of IT vendors, using POE devices wherever possible and leveraging on a rock-solid mesh Wi-Fi and zigbee network.
“The amount of data generated inside a home network of this size also required effort in the optimal network configuration. Fortunately, Domodo often works in period homes, which throw up the challenge of mixing high technology with the old style of the house in a way that complements and enhances the atmosphere without seeming out of place. There can also be network issues because of concrete basements the wireless connection can be a problem.
“That said, the customers were enthusiastic about the look and the performance of the Amina sound system and fascinated when we show them how to monitor and understand their home automation system and network performance.
The whole system, including audio and video distribution, security, Lutron lights, video intercom, heating and cooling, has been seamlessly integrated to be controlled by Control4 processor via all those discrete 7in touch-panels in every room.
“As an installer, our favourite room is the large server room in the basement where two 47U racks house 99% of the electronics in the property. The clients’ willingness to install remote network monitoring and remote power devices throughout the property made our life as an installer much easier from a support perspective.”
Highlight for the homeowners was the kitchen where a pair of AIW350E installed in-ceiling speakers provides music encompassing the whole room.
Another Amina apogee for the clients was the formal drawing room, installed with just one pair of flagship AIW750E speakers that effortlessly deliver high-quality audio, perfect for entertaining.
“The finished look took more than 18-months to complete and is flawless,” says Domenico. “It is a stark contrast to the 15 miles of Cat 6a data cables running behind the walls at the project’s outset, proving what a feat it has been to complete such a sizeable custom installation.”
The entire kit list can be found on the next page.
ESSENTIAL KIT LIST
Amina Evolution Series Invisible Loudspeakers:
Networking, Home automation and AV Equipment
2 x 47u Prism Data Cabinets
Cisco 1920 Router
4 x Cisco SG200 50P POE Switch
Domotz cloud-based network monitoring service
Ruckus Wireless Zone Director with 5 internal and 1 external 802.11ac Wifi Access Points with Beamflex technologyHP ProLiant DL320e G8 Rack Server
VMWare vCenter running Active Directory, DNS, DHCP and Voip PBX Server on separate VMs
NAS Synology RS3412xs
Synology visualstation (Surveillance Station for camera recording)
3 x T25 Mobotix 5MP door video-entry station
10 x D14d Mobotix HD Security Camera
Control4 processors (1xHC800, 2xHC250, 3x I/O expansion boards)
Control4 8×8 HDMI Matrix, 16×16 Audio Matrix and 2x 8 zones amplifiers
2 x Marantz amplifiers for the 5.1 zones
17 x Control4 Touchpanels with built in video intercom
6 x Cardaccess Zigbee repeaters
32 x Nyce/Axxess/CardAccess sensors for motion, temperature, humidity and luminosity detection
Lutron Homeworks lighting controller and LED dimmer packs
Trend HVAC IP controller for 20 zone heating/cooling system
10 x 8 ports Digital Loggers IP Remote Power Switches with Autoping technology
4 x Belkin Wemo Switches
20kVA UPS unit
2 x Sonos Zone Players
Roku 33 x Sky Boxes
Apple Mac Mini
Sony Blu-ray Player
Arcam DAB Player
Airmusic Airplay server
8 x Samsung and Aquavision LED TVs
Spotify, Soundcloud, Pandora and Rhapsody music streaming services
US TV channels video streaming services (HBO, ESPN, ABC, CBS, SHO) – full HD quality
4 core 14 Gauge speaker wire
Shielded CAT 6A for Ethernet connectivity throughout the property, terminated in data room at basement level on 310 individual data ports
Ruckus Wireless mesh for full and continuous wifi coverage of the property