KNX brings technologies together in a historic smart home project,

Integrator :  ILS Ltd and Bespoke Automation  -  http://www.ils-ltd

Category :  Residential


A KNX home automation system designed and installed by KNX UK Association members International Lighting Solutions (ILS) and Bespoke Automation, is central to the conversion of an historic building into a prestigious high end residential property.

The Astor is the last of seven restored barns that originally formed part of the Model Farm built by Lord Astor of the Cliveden Estate, Berkshire.  It has been transformed into the highest specification contemporary living space whilst retaining much of its history, including the internal framework of the original structural and roof timbers.

With 11,420 square feet of living space, The Astor is the largest of the seven barn conversions at the site of the Model Farm and said to be the largest free standing barn structure in the United Kingdom.  Developer Trenac Estates has created a highly desirable property where the front door opens into a vast central atrium of living space, with a home cinema entertainment hub surrounded by a state-of-the-art kitchen, six luxurious bedrooms with en-suites and full height windows.  A stunning central steel and glass staircase leads to a galleried music room and upwards to the bar.  There is also a gymnasium, sauna and a wine cellar.

Having worked with ILS on the other projects, including the six other conversions at the Model Farm, developer Trenac Estates once again called upon their expertise to design a home automation system for The Astor.  Its design had to be totally flexible and adaptable to the specific desires of potential buyers of the property in terms of reconfigurability of the property's lighting settings and the easy addition of extra home automation features at a later date.

The system also needed to be simple to use and the user interfaces had to be not only of the highest specification, but also had to harmonise aesthetically with the property's contemporary interior design, styling and fittings.

From an installation viewpoint, The Astor's interior framework of original timbers potentially presented obstacles in terms of wiring constraints.  With its twenty lighting circuits, the lighting in the very large open plan area would have been difficult to control with a standard conventional switched system.  Indeed, in total, The Astor includes 140 lighting circuits, fifteen independent underfloor heating zones and four groups of lantern windows that needed to be controlled.  To overcome these challenges and integrate all the home automation functions, a KNX based home automation system was recommended with specialist KNX integrator Bespoke Automation appointed to install the system, capitalising on their vast experience of using KNX for this type of project. 

ILS recommended the robust and proven Berker wall switches and room controllers to provide individual zone control of the underfloor heating.  These controllers are in every room and with simple to use interfaces can also control and display data covering the property's heating, internal temperature, lighting, blinds and windows.  The master bedroom and en-suite, for example, are equipped with blinds operated by KNX and integrated with the lighting and heating controls. 

All of The Astor's possible lighting scenes are configured and displayed on its touch screen.  The occupier can create alternative scenes including "welcome", "away from  home" and "party mood", for example.  These can be further configured as required. Presence detectors have been included with much of the lighting to ensure lights are not left on unnecessarily.  In the bedroom suites, dimmers have been incorporated which will automatically turn on lighting to a comfortable level at night, for example, to light the way to another room.

A KNX weather station on the roof supplies rain, wind, temperature and brightness data which is also displayed on a touch screen.  The recorded rain and wind values are used to manage the opening and closing of the lantern windows in the roof of the building.

The open protocol of the KNX system also offers new occupiers the flexibility to add additional home automation functions easily.  For example, pre-cabled curtains and blinds mean that these fittings can be installed at a later date to a new buyer's specification.  The property has a door entry system and is also pre-wired for future installation of CCTV cameras. The AV system in the entertainment hub can also be linked to the KNX installation. 

With an IP gateway included, there is the option to access and control the installation remotely. Three launch pads around the house act as iPad control and charging stations, allowing the occupier to control conveniently all The Astor's home automation functions from anywhere around the property. 

Bespoke Automation and ILS have worked together on a number of projects and The Astor ranks amongst the most prestigious and most challenging.  One of the keys to its successful implementation was close cooperation with other sub-contractors on site, including plumbers and electricians, to ensure that the KNX installation was designed to integrate with their requirements.  The result is a totally inconspicuous home automation system that has fully met the requirements of the property developer, where all the individual elements work to the same standard, speak the same language and can be changed or upgraded at any time. 

Robert Cantle of Trenac comments:  "The KNX system is organic and that was key to our requirements.  It can cope not only with what a buyer of The Astor may want today, but also what he may want in a few years' time.  There is no other home automation system that offers this flexibility and ease of installation of KNX".