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Design of Smart Homes
Everyday our lifes getting more directed by technology. Smart homes become more popular and it will place an important place in our lives.
Smart home technology was created to provide automatic and coordinated operation of all systems of life support and safety. It recognizes changes outside and inside, reacting to them appropriately because of the user’s command or independently.
The main feature of this technology is the integration of individual subsystems and devices into a single complex which is controlled by the automation.
Modern apartments, flats, cottages, country houses represent a sophisticated engineering complex. Smart home is able to take on the responsibility for the management of energy system, heating systems, plumbing, ventilation and conditioning.
The work of such systems must be coordinated so that the owner will have a possibility to get the maximum benefit from using them. Thus, the batteries will not heat a room with open windows pointlessly and wireless technologies will allow the client to be informed of any emergency situation immediately, no matter where he is.
Today smart homes technologies attract more and more people who appreciate comfort and modern technical solutions. However, it should be noted that the arrangement of the smart home is a serious step and the final result depends on how well the prepare for selection, installation and commissioning of all systems was made.
One of the options for creating a smart homes are DIY solutions when a user manually constructs and connects the smart devices. Typically, these solutions are offered “out of the box” and they do not need special settings.
However, professional systems that are called Custom Install are more interesting – professional companies install and configurate them, moreover, the project of such decisions is often discussed during the stage of construction of the house.
What we need to pay attention?
A smart home should not be initially designed as a standalone system. It is necessary to foresee ways of interaction with higher-level systems, e.g. control systems for buildings, emergency systems as well as systems of resource metering and systems of content delivery. It turns out that firstly it is necessary to have a possibility for interaction with the outside world, in order to provide the highest quality service which is provided to the user.
That is why design of a smart home system has the same importance as the design of the building in which the system is installed. Of course, if there’ll be an error, consequences will not be fatal, but periodic defects in the work of air conditioners and disconnection of water supply because of the improperly installed sensor leaks will not allow to use the room in a full way.
There is only one way to prevent possible problems: to create a project. Undoubtedly, there is a possibility that during the time of creation of drawing and putting the house in operation the owners may get additional requests, so the correct plan should always have the potential for some expansion of the system, so you won’t have to change everything that has been already done.
Ideally, design of a smart home system should begin simultaneously with the design of the building (or apartment), because a fairly large number of electrical and signal cables are involved in this system, and there’ll be impossible to hide them under the plaster.
In addition, it is necessary to provide not only space for the equipment, which will definitely need ventilation, but also to hide hatches for access to the cable routes at key points. Thus, on the initial stage of design an architect and an engineer should work together.
The first step in this work is the creation of a conceptual design. It should describe all tasks which this system will do. This information is needed for the preliminary selection of equipment, which details in turn can affect the characteristics of the entire system.
The design of smart homes control is created based on the needs of the consumer. A response to each request is a device that performs a particular task. The combination of such devices is the periphery of the smart home. The component parts of the system are the sensors that provide information about the status of the objects of the physical world and actuators which provide the impact on the condition of the objects in real world according to the commands.
There are also networks of data collection, networks of distribution of the commands, that receive data from sensors and give commands to actuators, and a DCS, for example the condition of sensors and actuators.
There are some more main parts of the system of the smart home control which are the client application and the intellectual core which is a software system responsible for the work of smart devices.
It is important to remember that one of the important challenges is to ensure the connectivity of sensors and actuators with the core of the control system. The system of communication must provide a reliable identification of the active devices, must have enough bandwidth and must support the easy integration with new devices.
Ways of Organizing Smart Homes Network
There are three ways to organize smart homes network: to use wireless technologies, to lay special cables or to use power cables. There are two types of wireless systems: with a fixed topology and a mesh network. The first option is a classic network that is designed and deployed manually.
The second option is more promising and it is a network which can be configured by itself and it is based on the protocols like Z-Wave, ZigBee, Bluetooth and others. Wired systems are based on serial protocols like 1-wire. Their obvious disadvantage is the necessity of laying the special cables.
After gathering all the necessary information about the system you can make a technical assignment for design, that is the second phase. It is important that the customer at the time of writing a technical task already has an understanding of the cost of the system and of the functions which it can provide.
After the preparation of the technical task the third stage comes, it is the development of a detailed project including all the documents: the set of construction drawings, equipment specification, schedule of works, etc. Installers, adjusters, an architect, a designer and other specialists work here together, that allows to take the wishes of the owners into account.
The result of the work on the project is a complete set of documents about the established system that satisfy the needs of the owners and takes into account the specification of a particular house or apartment. The client receives a detailed equipment specification and functional diagrams, also he receives drawings, a magazine about cables, schemes of electrical and instrument cabinets, etc.
Today technological progress which brings new benefits and convenience to our lives has filled the daily life of every modern person with different innovations. These technological innovations also affect the spheres of life.
The natural human instinct to have a comfort was the reason of the development of a high-tech system, with the help of which it became possible to carry out centralized management of all house equipment. Proper design of systems and the use of technology allow to fully enjoy the advantages that the smart home offers and to equip the home of your dreams.
Audio equipment as a design element of the interior
This week we decided to analyze the most frequently asked questions and myths from the sphere of audio equipments. For a starting point we decided to use the most interesting moments about which the listeners of audio programme «Sound» written in reviews and the stories of their own audio systems.
Today we will talk about what the modern equipment from the point of view of interior design for home and beyond.
Example installation of Bang and Olufsen – Beovision
A tangle of wires and bulky cabinets with home audio systems— what to do with that?
Acoustic systems of Hi-Fi class are not luxury items anymore, they has become an indispensable attribute of a modern home. As it is a full-fledged element of interior design, acoustics can become a harmonious continuation of design or it can entirely destroy its perception.
It is better to take care of this during the early stage of audio equipments installation. There are specially trained people for that, who can give a recommendation for the installation of equipment using the information about the size, the shape of the room, the materials and the interior.
One of the most common problems that our clients have is the wires. The showcases in most of the shops do not show all the technical nuances that may occur with the direct use of the audio equipments.
A buyer sees a beautiful photo and just forgets about such nuances as cable management. Of course, on the market of Hi-Fi and Hi-End equipment there are wireless systems, but they also work using the net so it’s impossible to get rid of all the wires.
There are many solutions to this problem. For example, there is specialized furnitures that provides convenient location for “hardware,” and a possibility of hiding the hidden cables in the walls of furniture. In this case the manufacturer of such furniture takes into account all nuances, up to a possible heating of the equipment.
In most situations this approach helps to reduce the time for preparatory work, not to ruin the walls, and most importantly to place the audio system so that it would not only have a good sound but it would also have a nice look.
Today it is not popular to put bulky equipment for show off, although it was popular in the 80s. People think primarily about ergonomics and space efficiency. It is possible to order something and build it into the interior, but in some situations it is necessary to consult with a specialist.
If we continue the theme of convenience, we would like to consider a huge number of existing solutions that provides system control with the use of smartphones and tablets. In Audiomania we use a system called Bitvise which solves the necessary tasks and does not give any discomfort during the settings.
These systems provide sufficient flexibility in order to adapt the control elements for your own design. The system works using Wi-Fi, and we can turn the music on anywhere in the house.
So it is possible to work with the whole home cinema system, but if there is no desire to buy specialized furniture, you can move all equipment to another room. Such a room can be quite compact, the only nuance which is needed is a sufficient ventilation.
I have my own restaurant, but the old acoustics from home looks strange. What am I doing wrong?
Unfortunately, the owners of bars, restaurants and cafes generally don’t pay enough attention to the acoustics of an area. There is a myth about expensive professional equipment, so people often buy an amateur or a car audio equipment and use it for other purposes. As a result, it quickly fails, because even if they seem to serve for the same purpose, the effect of a sound system which is designed for the car cannot give the same effect to a restaurant.
“People are trying to invent a bicycle. Perhaps they are guided by the fact that the professional audio equipments will cost more, the word “professional” always scares them. Unlike what’s known professional audio equipments which are designed for voice acting, for background music are cheap.
Thus it is necessary to think about the conditions of the environment in which the system will be used. For outdoors waterproof and frost-resistant acoustic systems are needed. Here it is necessary to take the class of protection from moisture into account. It’s one thing if we are talking about the open veranda of the restaurant, and it’s another thing if we talk about the sauna on a completely different level of humidity.
“There are very interesting and beautiful landscape solutions. You should read carefully if they should be used for internal or external use. If the speaker looks like a beautiful stone, it does not mean that it can be placed on the road. It is necessary to look what class of protection from moisture it is.
If it is assumed that the speaker will be put in the lowlands, then the equipment must be of the appropriate class or it is necessary to refocus and put the speaker to another place. Fundamentally nothing will change, plus or minus 1,5 m — it is not very important, and the system will make you and your guests happy for a longer time,” – shares the user his experience.
/ Speakers Visaton FRS 10 WP/8 are manufactured in a plastic shell with integrated protective grid which gives them a nice appearance and a good moisture resistance
Design and installation of professional audio systems require appropriate knowledge and experience. So if you are worried about the comfort and the image of your institution, you should contact a special firm.
Home system won’t suit in this case. For background sound and also for voice announcements sometimes the so-called “translational” audio equipments usually used. It is called sometimes as «100-volt». There is a well established term for it abroad – “public address”.
Such systems allow to transmit sound for distances up to several hundred meters. It is necessary to stretch a separate cable to each speaker when you use traditional Hi-Fi systems, but when you use “public address” systems it is not required. You can simultaneously connect as many speakers as you like.
Special multi-media players, microphones and such sources can be used as the sound sources. Mixer-amplifier, where acoustic systems are connected to, increases its signal and, if it is necessary, distributes it.
You can have a separate street veranda with your own music or VIP-hall where the notifications will not sound. When you choose an amplifier, it is recommended to consider a little extra capacity to make it work not at the limit.
A very good way to promote the restaurant is to design it in the broadest sense of this word. To create an unusal restaurants. Institutions pay attention not only to the appearance of menu and interior, some of them go further and build a promotion strategy using the general “strangeness”. Today we present to your attention the material about 10 unusual restaurants from all over the world which are seriously stand out from the crowd of “ordinary” institutions.
Top 10 Interior Design Mistakes
The creation of a new interior is always not easy. We wish it’ll be both stylish and exquisite, beautiful and sophisticated. But at the same time it is important for the room to have the character of those people who will live inside, so it should be individual and special.
Of course in such an important matter it is impossible to avoid the mistakes! They are made not only by those people who are trying to create comfort with their own hands, but even by the experienced professional designers.
Here is 10 most frequent mistakes in design. I hope that knowing of what you shouldn’t do will help you to create more successful interior.
Just once and for all say a decisive “no” to artificial flowers in the interior. Believe me, they would’t fit absolutely anywhere, there is no need to try to find a suitable place for them – they just need to be thrown out. The only exception is artificial trees for interior, but they need to be chosen very carefully!
Furniture with upholstery which cannot be cleaned:
No matter how attractive a white velour sofa is in the interior of black and white living room and no matter if your family has perfectionism in terms of cleanliness, believe me the spots on the sofa will appear soon! So when you are choosing furniture always think about how you can clean the upholstery when it’s necessary!
Beige room… Looks like a perfect option, right? But this interior looks boring and impersonal. The same applies to any other colors. It is much better not to use one color in the interior, but to use the combination of two or three shades.
Only the design of apartments in the style of high-tech or loft involves the lack of windows (and even then not always), in any other cases, the window should be carefully and thoughtfully decorated.
The lack of the light:
Any tricks for creating a perfect interior will be useless if the room has not enough light. The lighting aspect must be carefully thought out! Of course, the interior design of the bedroom and the interior design of the kitchen require totally different approaches to light.
Too many accessories:
Of course, accessories and decorative elements give the room a lived-in appearance and a character of its inhabitants, but in the same time they can simply make the room cluttered and untidy. So remember that it’s important to do everything with a measure.
Perhaps Hollywood celebrities think that it’s normal to decorate their huge home with incredible and totally useless installations and designer furniture, but in reality it’s just silly to fill the space of apartment with useless things.
An apartment in the General style:
In extremely rare cases it is possible to make several rooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a hallway in the General style so that it will look stylish and not boring. Usually the rooms are just getting too similar and they lose the individuality.
Wires in a visible place:
Believe me, there is no interiors which will look nice with the harnesses of wires which are stretching across the room. You should always (!) mask the cables!
Too many photos:
There’s no need to explain that, because too many pictures hanging on the walls look out of place in any interior.
Working areas are the places that we spent the biggest percent of our days. Despite it is not cared so much, the design of our offices are directly effecting our physical and psychological well-being as well as our productivity. Lately some big companies started to change themselves and worked with designers to create the offices that can motivate the employees. One of them is Microsoft Office in Milan. Let’s check out this lovely office together.
Design firm Platform 5 Architects presented a private house Backwater with 165 square meters replacing outdated bungalow in the County of Norfolk, England. Built in a secluded lagoon it belongs to Patrick Michelle, the director of Platform 5 Architects.
Family residence was designed in contrast with the traditional neighborhood buildings, but it does not disturb the tranquillity and the beauty of the area. The main objective was to create a simple and modern accommodation with living area as the central element.
Low-rise building is represented by three blocks, pitched roofs which are similar to the sheds of boats. Roof and side walls are covered with black wooden shingles, but on the front and the rear facades it is raw and it creates the textured appearance of the building. Deep eaves accentuate the bold silhouette of the house and provide protected exterior zones that can be used any time of the year, in the same time that’s recalling the verandas of nearby coastal Chalet made in the Edwardian style, built as holiday homes with an emphasis on leisure and relaxation.
Each volume has an excellent area and it is oriented on various types. Two-level living room, which is bordering the kitchen and the dining room which are located in the neighboring block, is separated from them by a sliding wooden door that allows you to open the space if you want to. Three bedrooms with bathrooms occupy the last two-storey volume. Every space in the house was carefully planned and decorated with mostly built-in furniture. A rich palette of materials shows the wide range of colors and textures corresponding to the function of each room, creating a cozy, but changing in the same time atmosphere.
Microsoft House is a new office of Microsoft in Milan, which interior project was designed by the architects of DEGW Italia who made a mix of everything that is associated with a vision of «100% italian design».
The office is located in the iconic building of architects Herzog & de Meuron, and the new interiors fully meet such corporate values like openness, visibility, flexibility, energy, dynamism and innovation.
Implemented DEGW project is a part of the process which Microsoft carries out for several years under the name “New World of Work”. The concept has a flexible approach to the dynamics of work and the use of functional and technologically innovative spaces that serve the purpose of cooperation maximizing. These ideas provide working space which allow the possibilities of different working methods.
In the two lower floors of the building there is a client area, which is opened to the public and which demonstrates Microsoft products. Floors from the second to the sixth are reserved for company staff and its partners.
Work areas are different in accordance with the type of activity for which they are made and they are grouped together in carefully designed clusters with a special facing of the furniture and the floor. There are sub-domains inside of them, which create transparent spaces with optimal sound and environmental efficiency.
Another fundamental feature of the project is the presence of Social Hubs, which are the spaces where people can come and hold informal meetings or enjoy short breaks with the colleagues. Themes that define the mood and tone of these Social Centres are sport, nature and city; the furniture and decor which were made right for their order fit the stated topics.
The whole design of furniture and accessories is made in the italian taste with the use of natural materials such as wood, that creating a warm and a friendly environment.
I planted and forgot: the overview of smart gadgets for plants
Do you dream to gather a huge harvest from your windowsill without delving into the details of the agricultural business? Fortunately, the inventors have provided such an opportunity: we present a brief overview of modern gadgets for plants.
Everyone knows that the greenery in the shop is absolutely «not the same» and it certainly won’t replace the home greenery. However, if you don’t have time for the nurturing of greenery or if the plants don’t love your care, we offer you automated systems for plant care.
A Clever Pot Click & Grow
Click and Grow is an incredibly stylish home station for the cultivation of plants, inspired by the achievements of NASA. This little box is ready to provide everything thay the plants need: a led lamp of a special spectral composition, a timer of lighting, a huge reservoir with one-month supply of water, an innovative “smart” soil which is gradually releasing nutrients and fertilizers. Many sensors allow you to help the plant to stay in the necessary condition. Click and Grow consists of three cartridges with basil seeds are included to the basic set, and it is possible to order many other seeds of tomato, strawberries, herbs, and spices on the official website.
Aquafarm is a unique device is a real small ecosystem which consists of a fish and plants. In Acquafarm, a special bacteria help to change the nitrogen produced by the fish into the form which is suitable for plants. Thus, the plants receive fertilizer, the inhabitant of the aquarium receives clear water and you get a pet and a fresh greenery. We recommend to use a Betta as an inhabitant of the aquarium as this fish has one of the lowest levels of demand for oxygen.
Herbie and Genie Indoor Garden
“Smart pots” from designers Michael Eriksson and Sebastian Jansson are available in two versions: Herbie Indoor Garden and Genie Kitchen Garden. Both are based on hydroponics, both require only 15 minutes of maintenance per month and both are equipped with the technology of active growth. The last one is a pump which places the water from the reservoir to the tray with plants. The water passes through a special nutritive layer and is enriched with minerals and fertilizers.
Parrot Flower Power and Parrot Pot
Parrot Pot is a lovely branch is actually a high-tech soil sensor which monitors light, temperature, humidity and fertility of the ground. If there is any deviation of these parameter, the Flower Power will send a notification to your phone via Bluetooth.
The same company — Parrot — releases a «smart pot» which has all the advantages of the «branch» but which also can moisten the ground when it is dry.
An interesting project that grew out of a startup not only offers an automated pot for plants, but also offers an emotional contact with the plants. Indeed, there is a contradiction in the ideology of many companies which advise people to buy a “smart pot” and forget about taking care of a plant — why do we need a plant if it is proposed to forget him as soon as possible? But Planty will not let you relax. If your flower is feeling cold or if it is insufficiently moistened, it will write you a message with a request to transfer the flower to the warm place or to water it. The pot has three sensors — the sensor of humidity, the sensor of light and the sensor of temperature.
The «Botanicalls» company offers the same system. Just one chip will allow you to communicate with the plants using the help of Twitter or phone.
Besides the smart devices for the cultivation of home plants, there is a big variety of street devices which will increase the level of the crop capacity and the level of the survival on the land.
Oso Technologies PlantLink
Plantlink is a whole smart system for watering the infield. It includes a small soil sensor which can send you notifications about the lack of moisture and which can transmit a signal to the smart valve. Plantlink is not only waters the plants due to the signal, but it also lets to create an irrigation schedule and it even takes the local weather forecast into account before watering to avoid waterlogging. The sensor can be used separately at home.
One more startup in our overview. Bitponics focuses on cloud technologies, allowing to create an unified system of control over all the household plants. The company offers to buy hydroponic cultivator which is equipped with many sensors, and you will receive an online account as a gift. This account will help to plan the care of the plant, to get advice from professionals and other users and to organize all the information from each of your plants which are equipped with sensors.
Rachio is one more invention in the category of “Smart garden”. Rachio allows you to schedule waterings, taking local weather, types of soil and plants and many other parameters into account. The gadget has a developed system of notifications which can inform the owner about the delay of watering because of the rain, about anomalous environmental conditions and about many other things.
Mobile app allows you to track the diary of watering, to adjust it on your own preference and to completely take control of a garden. Moreover, “smart” use of water which uses the weather forecast allows to save up to 50% of water.
What is the conflict between interior architect and decorator professions? Which line is separating their duties? What are their working principles? Which level of contribution they can create in an interior?
Since so many years, architects were also designing the interiors. According to the developing technology and the increment over social life, the need of interiors in different purposes was aroused. The functionalities of the interior, the purpose of use and user requests started to be effective over the interiors. The interiors were then designed by architects as shells and mostly over touched by decorators. The requirements over interiors created emerge of a profession which was always there but not named. There are still conflicts over the explanation of profession interior architecture, how it segregate itself from architecture and decoration. In this article, we will try to explain what interior architecture is and what an interior architect does?
What are the main differences between interior architecture and decoration?
Who is Interior Architect? What does an interior architect does?
Architects inspired by the depths of the history and the architectural history are opposed to the separation of architects both inside and out because most architects say that a structure is a complete and integral whole and that it must be designed together. In the contemporary world, there are some requirements in the interiors of some structures beyond the outside. In today’s world, contemporary structures can require very specific arrangements in the interior. Interior architects design interior spaces arranged independently from the outside in accordance with needs.
Interior architecture has become a separate occupational discipline in line with the needs of the time. An architect is obliged to cooperate with the interiors of the structure and the exterior.
Interior architect is a person who is capable of understanding the infrastructure of a building, designing the interiors, starting from the structure. An interior architect reorganizes and manages the structures and conducts all kinds of researches and designs in their projects. They work on the development and design work of the subjects belonging to the interiors.
Interior architecture is to organize all kinds of closed or semi-open spaces in a manner appropriate to the function of that space, without overlooking the structural and aesthetic values. In short, if it would define “Interior architecture is the art of adding meaning to the space.”
Interior architect needs to have a knowledge of physical requirements of an interior temperature, humidity level, and lighting, sound systems and etc., psychological requirements such as aesthetics, cultural levels, etc. of an interior.
An interior architect works as a team with architects, material providers, practitioners, artists and etc. Interior architecture is a team work, and the interior architect is the designer and the director of this duration starting from the research, till the last touches. An interior architect must complete this process in accordance with the art principles by taking account the wishes of the costumers and the economical possibilities.
Interior architecture is never to determine the location of the seats in the house, nor to place the purchased seats in their places.
Who is decorator? What does a decorator does?
The word decoration is coming from “decoration” term in French. It is an ornament art based on beautifying the existing things. Decorator is a person who is not authorized to make changes over the structure of building. Decorator is a person who has a sense of art, has a broad point of perspective about aesthetics and help costumers about color combinations, furniture selection and accessories decisions to be used in the interiors.
In fact, decoration is the name given only by the interior architects to their practitioner team. The decorator is practitioners who move with the interior architect’s schedules in the direction of the fixtures they receive from the interior architects. Unfortunately, in so many places decoration is coincided with interior architecture.