Gabriel Square: An Angel of An Install

Architects Benson & Forsyth collaborated with interior designer Conran and Partners to deliver the concept from developer Meyer Homes for a connected, modern-styled collection of 80 new smart homes to life.

Comprised of spacious town houses and one, two and three-bedroom apartments set around a landscaped garden square, the modernist feel of its architecture and interior design led it to picking up the accolade for both the ‘Home of The Year’ at Sunday Times British Homes Awards and gold in the ‘Best Interior Design’ category, as well as silver for ‘Best House’ at the recent WhatHouse? Awards.

The project also came very close to picking up a Smart Building Awards for Best MDU project, only narrowly pipped by Centre Point Residences.

The brief outlined a desire for a home integration system that could incorporate a level of heating, lighting and door entry control as standard, with the potential to easily extend and add AV technology to meet individual needs and tastes of future buyers.

The AV and automation contractor for the project, Webstract won the project by pitching an extensive, but easy-to-control system believing its intuitiveness and future-proof qualities would resonate strongly with the tech savvy developer.

Based around Control4, the company felt this platform would be a great fit for the contemporary design of Gabriel Square, would comfortably meet all the client’s requirements and would also satisfy the current and future needs of homeowners.

For lighting and ensuring secure entry to the 80 properties, Control4 was also used for blind control handled by a QMotion system due to its native integration with the wider system.

The system also works with a Heatmiser heating control to provide control of every core technology in the home via the same familiar interface.

Blinds were installed in the majority of properties at Gabriel Square to fit the large floor-to-ceiling windows and can be grouped and automated to raise and lower to programmable positions.

Structured cabling was installed throughout the development to future-proof the properties and ensure that each home is ready for multi-room audio, HDTV and other services at a later date, depending on the future owner’s needs.

Making the grade

With property developer Meyer Homes’ schedule to adhere to, deadlines were naturally tight, but construction delays all too common to the MDU, industry made things even more of a challenge.

The project had various challenges along the way and such delays meant that engineers had to install and commission in very little time once each property was ready, at one time the team was handing over eight properties a week, impressive stuff.

The system was designed with reliability and value for money in mind using Control4 with its single controller for lighting as well as door entry allowed the developer to install a system which permitted the home owner to control the system from the lighting switch panels around the home as well as from the 7in in-wall touch panels.

The panels also allowed each home owner to create lighting scenes directly from the touch screen, as well as control the integrated heating system.

Customer satisfaction

Overall, Webstract spent 30 months on the project – from the first tender document being sent to the final property being handover.

The installation itself was undertaken and completed in 11 months with an average installation time of under three days per property.

Lilli Hood, Resident at Gabriel Square, explains, “We first met with Andy (Andy Lloyd, co-founder) at Webstract back in 2018 when we were looking at having an AV and surround sound system installed into our new apartment on the Gabriel Square Development. Throughout the entire installation process, Andy and his team have been professional, very personable and they as a company go out of their way to accommodate your needs.

“We also had the Control 4 system installed into our new home. We have found this system has enhanced our home in so many ways, from being able to control all areas of our home from the lighting to the AV systems and even being able to control these areas via the app on our mobile phones that we have found very innovative and a cutting edge piece of technology.”

Antony Crovella, Sales & Marketing Director, Meyer Homes, comments, “Meyer Homes worked closely with Webstract on the award-winning Gabriel Square in St Albans. Webstract provided the smart homes technology for the 80 properties that were developed.

The team at Webstract were a pleasure to work with, and the quality of their installation and after-sales service has been second to none.”

A great project all around and a fine example of what can be achieved in the MDU market so long a challenging one for automation.

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