Case study: Independence days

This unique project blends the latest Crestron technology with great design to create a life-changing home for a severely disabled client.

by Rebecca Hoh

Major challenges and a host of vital small details combined to create a rewarding project for the design team of this Essex home, which included BGA Architects and technology specialists Custom Sight & Sound (CSS). An accident had left their client disabled to the level of C7 tetraplegia and requiring full time care, changing his life forever. Technology played a pivotal role and thanks to Crestron’s integrated systems, the designers were able to give him back as much autonomy as possible and allow him to feel secure.

“The client’s brief was to design a house which met his medical needs, for now and the future, but without the clinical appearance of an adapted property or care home, and more of a contemporary luxury interior,” says Russell Munro of BGA Architects.

The client is a wheelchair user, so much of the design of layout involved creating easy access to all parts of the home. For this a large central entrance hall was created with a feature glass lift that travels between all floors of the house. The entrance hall – and all the custom-made pocket doors – are large enough so that the client can access all rooms comfortably.

A vast, open plan living space runs across the entire width of the ground floor and looks out onto the sunken swimming pool and garden. At first floor level are three double bedrooms and a family bathroom, with the master bedroom also incorporating an en-suite with wet room and steam room. In the basement there is a large garage and cinema/entertainment room with outside courtyard.

“There were larger considerations we had to make,” says Munro, “such the main lift and also the car lift. But it was also about smaller details that would make a big difference, such as creating recesses behind the toilet in the en-suite bathroom to enable easy access for a commode.”

With the layout and design set, the Crestron technology came into play, along with some in-house solutions created by installers CSS.

“The finer details and specifics of the project, we created in house,” says Ian Bolt managing director of CSS. “But the core of the way the building works, and indeed the fact that it can actually work at all, is the Crestron system. It provides the vehicle for as the automation and control element – the brains if you like. It is many separate elements in one cohesive user interface.”

Such finer details include a fully-customised light dimming system providing scene setting and automated functions such as lights on at sunset, and off at sunrise. It allows the client to control lights in areas before he reaches them, as well as adding to both comfort and security either by wall mounted keypad with large buttons for ease of use or by his iPad. There are motorised window treatments, including curtains and blinds and the opening of the windows themselves, that control shade, privacy and heat at the touch of a button. TVs in the bedrooms have been mounted in a lift at the foot of the bed so that the client can watch it comfortably. Music was also a big part of the project and is now available in any room controlled through the iPad with a music library.

“There is door entry and access via wall control panels and iPad, to allow the client to see and talk to anyone arriving at his gate or door,” adds Bolt. “He can then choose to let them in or simply ignore them!”

The whole team are proud of what they created. “The client had two full-time carers before the house was completed, but now he can, for the most part, live alone,” Bolt concludes. “It’s a testament to the success of the project and after 35 years in the industry it is certainly my proudest achievement.”

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