Order the CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles® Issue: Curtain Up
The CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles ® Fall 2013 Expo Edition is available now. Handsomely produced with striking photography, the magazine's departments, columns and features inspire the audience of architects, building designers, interior designers and builders to embrace the integration of technology in the home. You can purchase 1-9 copies for $9.95 each, or 10+ for $7.95 each, a number that drops to $6.95 each at the show. Order your copies here.
For Sergio Rojas Vargas, the whole-home automation project on Menorca that he and his team at Smart Business & Home in Spain were handed entailed a great deal of planning. A Lutron system controls more than 80 lighting circuits and 16 window blinds, and AMX’s solutions are used to master other systems, including security, HVAC, and audio and video. And if that were not impressive enough, there is the design of the breathtaking outdoor theater, whose “stage” is nothing less than the Mediterranean Sea.
A couple of happy inadvertencies were responsible for both the exterior and interior cinema designs—each marvels of innovation and testaments to the teamwork not just within the Smart Business team, but also with the interior designer and the architect. “The advantage to us on this project was working with two great professionals: architect Javier de la Calzada and interior designer Pilar Briales. We had worked with the two before, and it always has been a great collaboration,” he said.
The homeowners were led to the idea of the outdoor theater as a solution to a problem—namely, what to do with a hole in the exterior property that was originally excavated to be a pool but was positioned in error in that spot, he explained. So the concept of seating a water tank within the space that could contain a pneumatic system from where a projection screen, speakers and a front projector could rise up when areas in the wooden exterior deck flooring are retracted was conceived. Moreover, the table-like surface of the pop-up projector enclosure can also perform double duty as a coffee table for books, food or drinks, when the system is not in use.
The huge, custom-made exterior screen took a great deal of thought and design engineering. The fabric had to be right, to withstand the elements: humidity, salt, and the high winds that buffet that island almost constantly. There is even a wind vane that deploys when the screen is up, to monitor the heavy breezes’ effects on it.
When in use, the screen is directly visible through an ultra-large window that runs floor-to-ceiling between the living room area and the outside deck. And the homeowners’ seeing that big outdoor screen through the glass may have partly been the inspiration for what the Smart Business & Home team created next, inside the living room.
The home’s living room area was specified originally only for a large-screen flat-panel TV. But even for that to work in a space flooded with so much exterior lighting, Smart Business & Home needed to come up with a clever way to block out the sun. The solution: to fabricate giant “curtain” panels which are tethered together with zippers that close the gaps between the curtains and hold them taut—in effect, making the curtains into a giant projection screen. “First, the family only wanted to use the plasma TV,” he said. “But once they saw what was possible with having a large, interior screen, they said, ‘Wow! This is amazing. We want an interior cinema, too!’” So now, the projection system that has been added to the living room’s interior gives the clients a choice of location—either inside or outside—for their immersive theater experience. Inside the room, the projector, the speakers and the subwoofers are all hidden when not in use.
Smart Business & Home has worked out technology solutions for at least five homes for these clients, and as technologies continue to change and improve, their efforts have increased these clients’ happiness by exponential degrees with each new project. “Certainly, this was a project that required a lot of innovation, inventing and providing solutions to different problems we had in the development of the project,” he reflected. When the home was unveiled to the clients, he showed it by degrees, starting with the inside TV, and then closing the inner curtain so that the interior projection system could be demonstrated—a surprise nobody expected. “Finally,” he said, “as the big surprise of the night, the outside home cinema. None of the people there knew what we had prepared—even the wife and the children – so that surprise was one of my best moments.”