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Inside AWE’s new UK HQ – VIDEO

The Epsom facility integrates the latest commercial and residential technology to provide an impressive showcase for the distributor's customers.

High-end custom install distributor AWE has recently moved into its brand new headquarters in Epsom, Surrey. The standalone building, Alexander House, represents a completely integrated convergence of both commercial and residential technology – working in harmony to wow visitors, increase staff productivity and drive sales.

The company moved into the 1,500sqm HQ in January 2014. The building was designed to set a new benchmark for the industry and to provide a platform for the company’s next phase of growth. By utilising integrated technology throughout the facility, AWE has created working residential and commercial environments, including a show apartment, training suite, offices and product showroom. The total refurbishment, including design, build and equipment installation, was carried out by AWE’s team of product specialists and integrators.

In addition to improving company efficiency, Alexander House provides a well-equipped education and training space, enabling products to be demonstrated in situ to increase sales, and provides outreach to design professionals and end users, with the insight into how technology can integrate seamlessly into a building.

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Multi-room audio, LED light dimming, video distribution and security are a few standout features that form part of the building infrastructure. The heart of the automation originates in the communications room with a collection point for some 800+ cable runs, and huge amounts of technology mounted in three 48U racks.

The whole building is automated by a URC Total Control system, working across 23 zones of uncompressed audio and 18 zones of 4K-capable video. Six URC TKP-7000touchscreens keep the areas in perfect harmony with simple control incorporating ‘one-touch building modes’, alongside dedicated handheld and iOS devices.

“We’ve integrated a single control system into a residential and commercial space,” comments Mal Fisher, URC product manager at AWE. “The system performs equally well in both environments, with all security camera feeds, music system and video source control available at the touch of a button.”

Benefits of the URC Total Control system include timed automated start-up and shut-down of the entire show space, and secure remote access to the control and security system, including updates and camera monitoring. As an added security measure, when the alarm is tripped, keypads lock and internal lights flash while specified events trigger system emails and/or text messages to alert the building management.

A Philips Dynalite system has also been incorporated into the building. As one enters the reception area, a chain reaction is triggered, automating the lighting controls for the building. This is achieved by using a DUS804C ceiling motion sensor, illuminating the reception area, the new showroom, lobby circuit, ground floor toilets and warehouse corridor.

A secondary DUS804C located upstairs within the main office controls lighting for the first floor. Emergency lighting is connected to the Philips Dynalite control system, allowing emergency testing to be performed from a laptop or smartphone, without the worry of using mechanical testing. Many of the Philips luminaires also have this feature built in, meaning that there is no need to run additional circuits.

Seventy-five LED luminaires from Philips have been installed throughout the office area, including battery backup models. With further Philips MasterLED lamps fitted elsewhere in the building, including the reception space and show apartment. All front of house areas are controlled via Philips Dynalite Antumbra keypads.

“The lighting within Alexander House provides numerous benefits over traditional systems,” explains Craig Thorne, Philips Dynalite product manager at AWE. “With independent control of fixtures, along with daylight harvesting and sensor-driven illumination levels, the building requires far less energy to run than before.”

The ‘show apartment’ is the centrepiece of the AWE facility, effectively showing a seven-room apartment incorporating multi-room audio, video, lighting, security, energy monitoring and window shading. All is controlled via URC Total Control and Philips Dynalite, with one-touch modes automating all products. These include speakers from KEF, screens from Panasonic, Samsung and LG, automated blinds from Silent Gliss and HD video distribution via HDanywhere.

AWE’s dedicated training facility, along with the upstairs office shows the commercial integration of simple AV control, LED lighting, automated window shading and video projection.

Finally, the product showroom highlights the latest products in more of a display environment, and allows technical discussions with AWE dealers. It’s the space to show the ‘black boxes’ and a range of curved and flat OLED and LED screens, HD and UHD, from 37in through to 103in.