HARDCORE HI-TECH HOUSE
A modernist fortress perched high in the hills above Johannesburg, South Africa, Kloof Road House is a marvel of concrete, steel, and glass. It commands the attention of any passing eye with its brutally stunning right angles, sharp edges, and stark contrasts. It serves as a residential home, but feels more like a setting for futuristic sci-fi thrillers featuring advanced technology.
And advanced technology it has! Home automation experts BNC Technology, a fullservice systems integrator out of Johannesburg, worked with the South African design firm Nico Van Der Meulen Architects to seamlessly ingrain the necessary technology into the bones of the house. The result is complete WiFi coverage, automated HD AV setups in virtually every room (including a concealed TV that rises out of the kitchen counter), and remote control of over 70 blinds, all without any visible cabling or unsightly wiring. The raw beauty of the home, the iconoclastic sculpture of the architecture, is unmarred by the full home automation, which is controlled by a few Control4 Touch Screens that have been installed in the most-trafficked areas of the house.
“Too often we find there is a big misconception about when the home technology professionals should be brought in to consult on the project,” says BNC founder and MD Nick Caripis. “We’ve found it commonly (and incorrectly) perceived that the systems designer isn’t needed until the house is built and ‘ready for the equipment.’ On the contrary, the designer should become part of the project at its earliest stages.” BNC was brought in at the design stage to fulfill all the home automation needs except the lighting. Another contractor was given that task, and unfortunately installed a, what the owners considered, sub-par lighting system. The problem didn’t “come to light,” as it were, until the homeowner moved in and began living with it. Malfunctions of the lights, intermittent reliability, and convoluted programming drove the owner to ask Caripis and his BNC team if they could remedy the situation.
BNC was happy to oblige, but the project had its challenges. The wiring that needed to be replaced was now embedded under concrete and steel. Add to that the client’s mandate to have it all finished within a two-week period, and Caripis had his work cut out for him. “It was a rush job, but we knew we could do it using a combination of wireless technology and off-theshelf controllers,” says Caripis. “In the past we never would’ve been able to do it without breaking the home to pieces to run wires. With this house that just wasn’t an option. Nearly every wall is solid and has an amazing custom finish.” BNC solved the problem by performing remedial work on all switches, adding some wiring to the lights, and replacing the electrical bus system. They successfully upgraded the automated lighting to the Control4 system, and got it done within the requested timeframe. The homeowner was pleased, and quickly adapted to the one-tap technology. “Only now that he’s moved into his house does he realize how much he needs it and how valuable it is to his lifestyle,” Caripis tells us. He adds that he’s seen that same reaction in many other BNC customers. “In fact, clients really need to be able to interact with the systems first, and see how they work. There is no better way to show them how easy and flexible home automation can be.” To that end, Caripis and his crew built a full showroom in the BNC industrial space on the edge of Johannesburg. This showroom