“The Courthouse represents a rare chance to live in one of London’s most exclusive locales,” chimes the publicity material for Barratt London’s latest development of luxury apartments.
RJK Multi-Room managing director Richard King is no less fulsome in his praise for the 10-storey building within earshot of the chiming bell of Big Ben in Westminster.
The project completes towards the end of June and Richard hails a prestige development of 129 smart flats that took six months to complete from start to finish as a virtually “unbelievable feat.” It was one of those apartments that drew his attention when an existing client asked him to add a final audio-visual flourish to his mint new home. And what a home.
The Courthouse stands on the site of the City of Westminster Magistrates Court in Horseferry Road. The architecture is in the classical Edwardian style, melded together from Portland stone and bronzed aluminium in a lattice structure. Many celebrities have swept up and down its steps in various states of distress over the decades as the court became a locus for high-profile cases.
But the imposing block was closed three years ago after a government review. Today, flats sell for between £685,000 and £2.5m. Interiors of the Courthouse flat tackled by RJK Multi-Room vie in inventiveness to merge quiet comfort with refined opulence. Technology and the professionals who install it had to be no less inventive to satisfy such a high specification for a client with such high standards.
“Using the Legrand Arteor system certainly helped in meeting the challenge,” explains Richard at the heart of an installation that shifts seamlessly through living areas and bedrooms. “The client made contact with us to research some market competition and the kind of technology that would meet such high-quality design criteria.”
RJK Multi-Room is a few miles east from the village-like atmosphere and leafy streets, historic landmarks and well trodden tourist paths of Westminster. Richard’s company to the east of London was set up in 1989 and boasts a portfolio of security products including intruder alarms, CCTV, access controls, door entry and IRS, as well as audio visual and home automation systems. An impressive track record drew this client back into the RJK fray.
“An original brief involved another manufacturer’s system,” recalls Richard. “But when we showed what the Arteor product could do, its versatility and ease of use won over the client who was also impressed with the co-ordination with the electrical accessories.”
The main living area is defined by dimming and switched lighting CCTS, underfloor heating control, audio control and fancoil-unit control for cooling. The Arteor 10IN was a good match in subtlety and performance, says Richard. The touch-screen is designed to offer contemporary good looks with intuitive operation and customisation.
The touch-screen, available in black or white and with a 24mm-deep flat-screen profile, is stylish and discreet and simplifies home automation by combining navigation tools commonly used on iOS and Android devices. Internet access and customisable profiles offer a simple-to-operate, flexible and personalised control screen.
Individual user profiles can be personalised with images, customised control settings and personal preferences including music playlists. Intuitive operation meanwhile, just like a Smartphone, makes the technology suitable for most people, ranging from the techy teen to the more time honoured technophobe – always a boon to installers keen to avoid blinding clients with science.
“Into the bedrooms went 3.5IN touch-screens and the same control elements, but with the addition of 1.2IN touch-screens as scenario control by the beds. Hidden flush-in-wall temperature probes were used to ensure a clutter-free wall space. We used the Legrand system as the backbone of the project because we felt it – and its matching electrical accessory range – suited the client’s needs.
“Furthermore it dispensed with multiple manufacturers’ kit being mixed together to achieve the system requirements such as a lighting controller from one GU1 and audio from another. It provides a single-scoop route to one manufacturer in the event of failure and speeds up resolution for the client. Legrand’s brand recognition also assured the client of back up and customer service.”
The Arteor touch-screen technology may have made home automation simpler for the user, but the installers came up against tricky aspects during installation: “Most challenging was the interface of the cooling plant into the systems. This involved crossing multiple protocols from differing manufacturers, but was aided by the introduction of BACnet control to all touch-screens.”
All this coming together of technology and aesthetics, struck a chord with the client, whose favourite part of the project is the overall look of coordinated accessories and the high-quality feel of the mirror-black, wall-plate surrounds in the apartment. Here, the client can use the screen’s carousel to swipe navigate and enjoy the graphic interface on the LCD 16:9 screen – a doddle to operate.
In the bedroom the client can operate the touch-screen by user, control function or room. In the living room meanwhile the client can kill time with some on-screen web browsing via the home’s Wi-Fi connection before striding into one of the cosmopolitan boutiques and cafés within easy reach of the Courthouse or taking a 10-minute stroll to the Palace of Westminster.
And here also the client can multi-task, playing music files and viewing images at the same time, all from this central hub, controlling all the home’s automated functions. Those functions can include lighting, heating and cooling, AV, blinds and security, while integral USB, mini USB and SD card slots enable the user to manage multimedia files using the LAN network or via the IP.
“The achievement of our company and its committed on-site and office team is no small feat,” concludes Richard. “It has been great to be involved with such a prestigious development and working for a fantastic site team. Delivering 129 high-quality London apartments in six months is an unbelievable feat. Using the Arteor system certainly helped in meeting the challenge.”