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Installation profile – Huf Haus

Meticulously planned and engineered off-site prior to final installation ñ and thatís just the house. George Cole asks Marquee Home what itís like designing an installation building thatís largely complete before it even arrives

Meticulously planned and engineered off-site prior to final

installation ñ and thatís just the house. George Cole asks

Marquee Home what itís like designing an installation

building thatís largely complete before it even arrives

Letís face it, however complicated the installation, most installs follow a familiar pattern: a consultation with the client, followed by a site survey, where rooms can be measured and assessed, and then the design process and installation. But what if your clientís house hasnít even been built? And what if your system design has to be signed off almost a year before any building even commences?

That was the situation facing Marquee

Home, a multi-room AV, control and integration

specialist based in Surrey, England.

The reason for this somewhat unorthodox

approach to installation was because the

Berkshire-based client had purchased a innovative

form of housing created by the

German company Huf Haus. To say that Huf

Haus takes a radical approach to house

building and design is rather like saying the Pacific Ocean contains rather a lot of water.

The process involves the client specifying

the house design and dimensions, and after

signing a binding contract, having the house

built in a factory in Germany. The house,

which is composed predominately of glass

and timber, is then shipped over in kit form

to the clientís plot and assembled on-site.

The result is a stunning home that is a

world away from any preconceptions you

may have had about prefabrication.

Marquee Homeís client is an AV enthusiast

who had definite ideas about what he

wanted. ìWe have known his family for 10

years and there were a number of media solutions

we knew he wanted, including a very

high performance home theatre,î says Alasdair

Kidd, Marquee Homeís project manager.

One decision taken fairly early was to

implement a Crestron control system: ìIn

addition to staples of RF/Satellite distribution

and a local area network, the client

wanted audio distribution, CCTV, access control

and integration with the lighting and

blinds ñ automated by the [Huf Haus] supplied

KNX system. We had four or five

different systems that needed to be pulled

together into a single solution, all needing to

be controlled both by both wired and wireless

user interfaces, Crestron was the answer.î

So, was designing a complete AV solution

for a 1,500sq metre home that hadnít been

built a challenge, or a great opportunity?

After all, it meant starting with a blank piece

of paper. ìIt was a challenge for a number of

unique reasons but at the same time it was a

fascinating alternative to your typical project,î

says Kidd. ìYou start with a blank

canvas ñ much as you would with a typical

new build ñ and develop your solution; the

key difference with a Huf Haus is that your

design is signed off well in advance of the

building process.

ìTime usually available during construction

for a design to evolve and include

last-minute amendments is not available,î

Kidd explains. ìOnce the building process

begins in Germany you cannot add cable

routes or infrastructural detail. We had to

look almost a year into the future and make

some important choices, based on how we

saw the clients interacting with the property.

This was probably the toughest challenge.î

Marquee Home sat down with the client

and discussed ideas. Some solutions were

arrived at fairly quickly. The client, for example,

was already a Meridian customer and so

the decision to use their flagship 800 Series

Theatre system was obvious, both for the

performance the system offered and the

clientís belief in the brand. Some came later,

such as a wireless video interface for access

control and remote control of the garden

lighting. After designing the system and

receiving approval from the client it was a

case of producing all the required M&E documentation

(CAD drawings and other

integration tools) for the Huf Haus team.

ìWe flew to Germany to discuss the project

with them.î recalls Kidd. Marquee Home

had to produce very exact drawings for

equipment locations so Huf-Haus could

ensure ducts, risers and cable ways were in

place. After the house purchaser has signed

an agreement with Huf Haus, itís binding, so

thereís very little scope for any last-minute

changes of mind. This makes good business

sense as it means that the Huf Haus builders

donít have to make changes to the manufacturing


ìOn the downside, it doesnít give much

scope for last-minute alterations. And, in

this case, the client did make one change to

the home AV specification after the ink had

dried on the Huf Haus contract…

ìIn the nine months between signing off

the design and awaiting the arrival of the

house, several new video servers had

appeared on the market and ñ with appealing

new price points ñ the owner was keen to

add one to the scheme,î says Kidd. ìVideo

distribution had been discussed at the start

of the project and sidelined but now, with

the idea of movies on demand around the

house, it was back on the table.î

Fortunately, Marquee Home had built

enough headroom within the original cable

solution so it was possible to install an HD

video distribution system through the Cat5

already planned.

After that, it was a case of waiting for the

house kit to arrive and for the building to

start. It took around two weeks for the house

to be constructed and then it was time for

the week-long first fix cabling process.

îThere were some nerves but everything

pulled together, says Kidd, ìIt was phenomenal

ñ it all happened so quickly. It was a case

of ëblink and you miss it.íî

Once first fix was complete, Marquee

Home undertook a complete test of the

wiring solution and to everyoneís relief

everything was fine, except for some minor

damage to a single Cat5e data cable, which

was easily worked around.

Interestingly, the owner wanted almost

all televisions and associated equipment to

be located on free standing cabinets, except

for the home theatre system which required

some bespoke joinery. Around the home,

speakers were placed on beams, touch pads

built into walls and wires carefully channelled

to the AV equipment sitting within


The equipment installation began

around Christmas 2007 and was essentially

complete by March, after which followed a

programming and integration process. Marquee

Home is still involved with the project,

making minor changes and updates as the

clients adapt to their new home. This is no

surprise when you consider the huge

amount of equipment and ground-breaking

technology installed in the Huf Haus.

The user interface is, as always, key to a

successful installation and dotted around

the home are a variety of Crestron touch

screens; including four 4-inch TPS-4L displays,

three TPMC-8x and one TPMC-8T

8-inch controller, plus a TPMC-8x-DSW inwall

dock for the TPMC-8x in the theatre.

The four TPMC-8Xs are all Wi-Fi- and

Ethernet-enabled touch panels, providing

internet access and multimedia streaming

over a wireless network. ìWeíve engineered

the system so that video from the CCTV

cameras and access control system can be

viewed wirelessly on each; you can be watching

a movie in the basement theatre, and if

the door bell rings, a live image of the visitor

pops up on the touch screen panel with buttons

to open the gate and allow them

access,î says Kidd.

The home cinema room is the centrepiece

of the install and accounts for almost 50 per

cent of the total cost. A tailored joinery solution

has been used to provide an attractive

home for the theatre system, theatre electronics

and multi-room electronics. This was

extended to all four walls and ceiling of the

theatre to provide fittings for lighting,

acoustic treatment and surround speakers.

Four Elite electrically reclining chairs provide

comfort for the viewers and a four-zone,

Lutron controlled, lighting system adds that

final touch.

Hidden away in the left rack are the

multi-room system components, while in the

right one is the home theatre equipment.

The home theatre system consists of a

Faroudja DILA1080pHD projector and

Screen Research X-Mask acoustically transparent

projection screen with adjustable

vertical masking. Meridian DSP7000 front

speakers, DSP5500c centre speaker, M2500

subwoofer and four A330 speakers are powered

by a Meridian G41 amplifier, with

Meridian reference 861 surround processor

and 800D reference DVD/CD player.

Other source components include an

Imerge MS5000 CD/DVD server, Sky HD

set-top box, Freesat HD set-top box, Pioneer

laser disc player, Pioneer CD recorder, plus

Sony PS3 and Microsoft Xbox 360 games

consoles. A Crestron CP2e control processor,

TPMC8x touch panel and in-wall dock

makes the whole system easy to use.

In the living room is a Meridian G91

DVD/CD/DAB integrated player connected

to a pair of Meridian DSP5000 speakers.

However, itís the 65in Fujitsu plasma television

that catches the eye: ìFujitsu recently

pulled out of the plasma market, which is a

great shame, because itës a fine display,î says

Kidd. There is also a second PS3 console and

Toshiba HD DVD player. All are controlled

by an in-wall Crestron TPS4l and wireless


The games room has a Paradigm Supernova

fixed frame projection screen to allow

the clientís existing SIM2 projector to operate

in a room with high ambient light levels,

a Yamaha surround processor and Monitor

audio speakers also taken from the clients

existing kit list complete the system in this

room. A Crestron TPS4l and Philips

TSU9400 remote control provide the user


Elsewhere around the property is a 40in

Loewe Individual Compose LCD TV in the

Master bedroom, along with a Panasonic

BD30 Blu-Ray player. Each of the guest bedrooms

has a 32in Loewe LCD TV, while the

ownersí son has a 37in Fujitsu Aviamo LCD

and an assortment of games consoles. In the

kitchen is a 26in wall mounted Loewe TV

that can be swivelled for viewing in both the

kitchen and dining areas. Discreetly connected

on beams around the house are Linn

UNIK speakers, while in the bathroom is a

set of B&W WM2 speakers. B&W WM4

speakers are used for the terrace.

The complete system cost more than

£200,000. Kidd says the client is very pleased

with the results: ìHe likes us to push the

boundaries with technology and he loves the

home cinema and media distribution system.

Also, when you walk into the house you

are not overwhelmed by technology. Itís only

when you enter the home theatre that you

get a sense of the power of the system.î

No surprises that the system includes

remote monitoring and control: ìWe can dial

in to various systems for remote diagnostics

and review current and past intersystem

communications,î says Kidd. And the work

isnít finished yet, the client already wants to

add to the media distribution system. The

Huf Haus is an extraordinary structure and

so itís fitting that it houses an extraordinary

AV/home automation system.

This article was originally published in Residential Systems Europe, October-November 2008