The integrators at Vancouver, B.C.-based La Scala Integrated Media were approached by clients who had built an 18,000-square-foot residence there for their tech-savvy children to use as a place to live while at university. The aim of the project, said Tavish Macdonald, of La Scala’s design sales team, was to adhere to a clean, minimalistic style while customizing the home with technology to meet the lifestyle needs of these very tech-savvy young adults, who besides being students were also gamers and into computers. “That was really the inspiration for the home itself and it was designed around that – customized for that,” he said. “With very few occupants in the home, the usability needed to be efficient and fail safe,” he says. “To achieve this, we developed a script of house-wide macros that execute based off of the security system occupancy status.
“Every room has a purpose,” Macdonald explained, citing the library, computer room, gaming arcade loft and comic book room as just a few examples. “All of these unique rooms and features allowed us to design an automation system that would complement the home’s artistry.” Crestron solutions are at the heart of the control mechanisms for this connected domicile. “The standout system in the home are the lighting controls – LED cove lights, backlit window panes and extravagant chandeliers set the tone of the Starship Enterprise meets a Hilton hotel,” as Macdonald describes it. Each room has its own standalone media setup – there are Sony TVs everywhere – with local remotes and wall input plates for gaming consoles. Cool blue LED strip and accent lighting that is used in certain areas reinforces that starship-like impression. The arcade loft, he said, even features a futuristic motorized door that will open if a hand is waved in front of it.
The home offers 16 zones of independent climate control via Tekmar’s HVAC system, but there are alternative methods that temperature can be altered.
One other way – which also constitutes a very striking aspect of the home – is through View Glass, which is used on every window. It is a type of glass that is controlled electrochromically, and is set to tint itself both for privacy and against sunlight to various degrees automatically and also manually, through the Crestron system. “That was a first for us,” explains Macdonald – “tying into a large-scale View Glass installation – one of the first usages from a custom residential control perspective, as they are usually used in airports and big buildings. It can get up to a 15 percent tint, and doesn’t go fully opaque, but that’s quite a bit.” Also, the home is fully equipped with shading, with every window outfitted with recessed motorized roller shades.
“A cool feature on the security system,” says Macdonald, “is that our alarm integration partner installed output triggers for us that activate a privacy scene, so if someone jumps the fence or breaches the property between certain hours of the night, the glass starts to tint and shades start rolling down. It’s automated privacy.”
Macdonald credits the skill of La Scala’s architect, builder and security team partners on the project for its ultimately above-and-beyond, client-pleasing result.
“They are the best at what they do in the city, both from the builder and the architectural side,” he says. “Working with talent like that makes for a pretty nice end product. It’s countless hours of coordination and multiple revisions and change orders but even so, no ball was dropped. The process was evolutionary among all team members, and what was nice about it all is that trust was placed in the right hands, and it wasn’t just one person waving a wand; it was an organic process that got us to the finish line.”
Macdonald notes, “We’re always trying to highlight in our building community the importance of partnership between integrator, builder and designer, specifically for repeat business. That’s the way you gain efficiencies, because you learn each other’s processes. It’s something that has taken a while, but over the course of half a decade, we now find ourselves as a preferred integrator for these partners.”
This installation project “was one of the most uniquely integrated homes in form, function and fabulousness we have ever completed,” Macdonald says.
Article First Appeared in Connected Design Fall Issue, 2019