The most interesting thing about Architecture is how it evolves from generation to generation. I mean, what would the pages of history look like without Architectural Innovations? Some come as novel, some as modification of its predecessor, and yet some others as total opposition to older movements. Every civilization expresses herself via an Architectural movement, it seems.

Yet, Architecture in all her glory is a very slow adopter of Technology. Thus, this is a high-level insight into how technology can be optimized for better building delivery. Specifically, the Smart Home.

ANCIENT ARCHITECTURE

When the Egyptians were constructing the pyramids, they were on top of their game. You ask me why? They were pushing the resources they had to unimaginable extremes — thousands of years and those structures still stand as wonders of the ancient world — that’s a testimony to the fact that they were on top of their game…

MODERN ARCHITECTURE

When the first industrial revolution birthed the CAD technology, it came with a sweeping paradigm shift towards the entire building delivery. Coupled with the accompanying technological advancements, buildings grew in size and use — commercial, corporate etc. Unfortunately, so grew their environmental impacts; thus, the need for sustainability, efficiency etc.

THE SMART ARCHITECTURE

We live in an Information Age. The internet protocol has made us all next-door neighbors. Devices keep getting equipped with capabilities unimaginable just a few years back. Since every civilization expresses herself via an Architectural movement, how does this Information Age do likewise?Is she doing so already?Let’s find out…

SO, WHAT IS A SMART HOME?

We will define a Smart Home as an integrated, intelligent ‘device’ holistically-designed and prefabricated — merging Architecture, Technology and the Context.

Smart Building Technology has been defined as the process of conceiving, designing, constructing, commissioning, and operating buildings, leveraging technology to optimize the goals and objectives of the built environment. (Sinopoli, 2010).

REDUCED CONSTRUCTION COST

Smart Building Delivery is a Holistic Process. This, in turn, lends itself to lesser wastages during construction, as a result of better collaboration among the various professionals…

REDUCED POWER CONSUMPTION

Smart Building Technology is founded on Sustainability. A focal Technology System integrated into holistic smart homes is the Electric Power Management System (EPMS). This monitors and optimizes power consumption…

BETTER PROJECT AND FACILITY MANAGEMENT

A fundamental precinct of Smart Building Technology is Building Information Modeling (BIM). This makes smart building delivery a digital process, and avails this digital information to the project and facility manager during and after construction…

WHAT ARE THE BASIC COMPONENTS OF A SMART HOME?

The basic components of a Smart Building are the Building Structure/Fabric and the Technology Systems. The Building Fabric encompasses the structural and aesthetic elements, while Technology Systems encompasses the end, control and administrative devices.

The Technology Systems of a Smart Home are completely integrated with the building fabric — for Holistic Smart Homes — to produce a unified product.

ENERGY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

Energy Management is a fundamental advantage of technological integrations in buildings.This is provided by such technological systems as HVAC Systems, Lighting Control Systems, and the EPMS.

FACILITY MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

The BIM data gotten at the end of the building construction is primarily utilized for the facility management. Facility management tools usually come in the form of enterprise software packages offered by facility management companies — with web interface/dashboards…

ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEMS ETC.

The audio-visual system is the most user-friendly amongst all the technology systems integrated into smart homes. This provides the primary user interface through which the end users interact with the smart home — for entertainment, comfort etc.

ARE THERE SMART HOMES TODAY?

It is a rising debate in the industry who owns the future of Smart Buildings: Custom Integrations Industry or the GAFA Conglomerate? The former is globally represented by such organizations as AVIXA (formerly InfoComm) and CEDIA; while the latter is basically Google-Apple-Facebook-Amazon.

The question however is: “how smart is the present day smart homes?”

CUSTOM ELECTRONICS INTEGRATIONS

What is popularly referred to as Smart Homes today is mostly made possible by the immense services provided by this “small” sector in the building industry. A relatively high level of specialized knowledge is required here, and her solutions are geared more towards the luxury populace — such systems as Hi-fi Audio…

GAFA SOLUTIONS

This solution is provided by the innovative giants of the century — unleashing what could be termed ‘the 3rd industrial revolution’.A relatively lesser level of specialty knowledge is required here, and the solutions are geared more towards the younger populace, and all — such products as The Apple Home Kit.

THE HOLISTIC SMART HOME

Holistic Smart Homes, however, is the smart home of the future. The solution here is basically providing homes as a unified single product — same way Apple products, for example, are unified single products. This is only achieved through an Integrated Approach to Building Delivery.

WHAT MAKES A SMART HOME UNIQUE?

It was a battle between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla over which electricity model should power the world — who won? Tesla might have won on the commercial scale, but guess what? A smart Home is a piece of a residential gadget…

DIGITAL ARCHITECTURE

Smart Homes maximize technology in all facets. A direct impact of this is the delivery process. Smart Homes are prefabricated; thus, the delivery process is almost completely digital. The other digital impact is the aesthetic feel to smart homes. These gadgets are finished to reflect the digital nature of the Architecture.

OPEN-SOURCE ARCHITECTURE

The technology systems in a smart home are all based on the standard/open protocol — the Internet Protocol, IP. This brings about standardization and interoperability amongst all the technology systems. The cabling infrastructure of smart homes is also uniform — the CAT cabling system. A direct impact of this is that the various devices and gadgets of these systems have respective IP addresses and can be remotely monitored.

SUSTAINABLE ARCHITECTURE

Because smart homes are unified gadgets, they can be powered by Direct Electricity, DC — thus saving an immense amount of power. The primary source of this electricity would be solar — whereby a solar grid powers a network of smart homes. Also, the materials used in the building fabrication are context-sensitive and locally-sourced.

SO, HOW ARE SMART HOMES DELIVERED?

The vehicle that delivers a smart home — from programming phase to post-occupancy — is innovation.

The entire process is an advancement on the traditional building construction, and the driving forces are efficiency, cost, and ultimately, user satisfaction. The process is centered on the following: The Team; The Design; The Data — BIM; The Documents; andThe Fabrication.

PREFABRICATION

Prefabrication entails assembling building components offsite in sub-assemblies, before erecting the building onsite — these components could be digitally-fabricated or traditionally-manufactured. Some people refer to this as Modular Architecture. The success of this entire process still lies on the Building Information Model; hence the need to implement a BIM Execution Plan.

DIGITAL FABRICATION

Most of the components of a smart building are digitally-fabricated. This is achieved either through Additive Manufacturing or Subtractive Manufacturing. The information fed into the Automated Machine Tools — such as 3D printers — are originated from the BIM software. This brings about numerous advantages, such as speed, lesser wastages, and ability to create complex forms easily.

THE ASSEMBLY LINE

After the individual components are fabricated, the Smart Home Delivery Company ‘reduces’ these components into sub-assemblies in an assembly line of the Home Fabrication Factory. This parallels what is found in car manufacturing companies. In essence, the entire building is sub-assembled — ready for final assembly on-site

SO, WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS SMART HOME SOLUTIONS?

What are the various applications for Holistic Smart Home Delivery?

TINY HOMES

Tiny Homes cater to the middle-class — such middle-class percentage that has an eye for DIY. This mostly entails the conversion of shipping containers to homes and similar innovations. In this solution, the client is highly involved in the entire delivery process; and sometimes, supplies the various materials. This is a budget solution. The homes here are also mostly one floor — and are typically very small in size.

LUXURY HOMES

This solution caters to the luxury class — the Tech-savvy percentage of the of the luxury class. The clientele is not as involved in the entire delivery process as the Tiny Homes solutions. There’s a high level of technology integrations here, and the homes could be as high as three floors. The fabrication technology is also more advanced here — featuring the most advanced technologies within budget.

SMART ESTATES ETC.

This is the Hallmark of Technology Infrastructure. Smart Estates typically would have more than one typology/option for the clients to choose from; as well as support facilities that make for a complete living experience within the estate. This solution could go higher than three floors, depending on such constraints as land, location etc. However, it is ideal to not exceed three floors.

SO, WHAT WOULD THE FUTURE SMART HOMES BE LIKE?

Based on this introductory insights, what do you understand sets the future smart homes apart from the present day smart homes?

INTEGRATED BUILDING TECHNOLOGY

The fundamental difference between the future smart homes and the present day smart homes is the Design and Delivery Process.Every professional involved in the delivery process collaborates via BIM tools, according to a generally-agreed BIM Execution Plan. with their respective specifications compliant with industry standards.

COVERT SYSTEMS

In the future, Building Technology Systems won’t just be ‘interfaced’ with the Building Fabric; rather the technology systems and the building fabric will be Totally Integrated. For example, the Audio-visual devices will be recessed into the building fabric — only appearing when needed; the surveillance cameras will be just lens integrated covertly into the building fabric; IP telephones will be just touchscreens on the walls etc.

EFFICIENCY ETC.

Future smart homes will be very efficient facilities.

Firstly, because diverse Simulations and Analyses are carried out during the design, and various constraints are measured and tested against.

Secondly, by utilizing such innovative approaches as solar power supply and DC electricity, the power consumption gets highly optimized. Energy consumption is also monitored and controlled, both actively and passively.

At Blaze, we offer three major services:

  1. BIM Software Training
  2. BIM Execution Planning
  3. Enterprise Integrations – e.g. BIM 360 Design Suite

If You need any of the services,

Place your request here.

***Adapted from Blaze Monthly Digest – January 2018.

Subscribe to Our Monthly Digest.