eUnite - Smart Apartment Design Requirements
Version 1.2, 2 May 2001
For presentation to the the design studio project, second semester 2001, Department of Science and Design, University of Canberra, 3 May 2001
The purpose of this document is to provide the requirements for the design of an Internet connected home office or "smart apartment".
Discussion of Internet enabled homes, such as the Sydney Ihome, has so far been superficial, with net fridges, plasma wall screens and remote Internet control of appliances providing little practical function at a high cost.Technologies, such as Transact's high speed network, provide the potential for affordable useful services.
The total cost of the project (including designer's fees, materials, good and services) is not to exceed:
- Single office apartment: $AU10,000.
- Multi-office apartment: $50,000
The structure of the building is not to be altered (no changes or additions to walls, but the breakfast bar can be modified to build an office desk into it, for example). All furniture and fixtures added are to be removable. This is to minimize the need for approval by body corporate and allow changes to the design. The designer may choose to match the layout, color scheme and finishes consistent with the original intentions of the architect, or provide a new style. The locations of power, data, TV and telephone connections in the standard apartment design would limit the location of equipment and therefore cabinets to house them in the design. However, the location of these are not show on the plans and can be placed as required.
Two designs are to be developed:
- Single office apartment: Designed into the lounge of of a dual use living/working apartment.
- Multi-office apartment: Designed to turn the whole apartment into a multi-room office, for a minimum of four staff.
- Access Requirements: The design is to be in accordance with the Australian Standard for disabled access to buildings (AS 1998). As with the design of web sites, design for the disabled can also have benefits for business in better access for the general community. Only the newly refurbished components of the design need comply with the standard, refit of the entire apartment (for example widening exiting doorways or providing a wheelchair lift for the existing stairs) is not required. The Victorian Government has provided a set of design guidelines for accessibility (Vic 1999).
- Desks and storage comparable to an open plan office cubicle. With:
- View out a window: Near a window, with a view outdoors when seated in a chair at the desk.
- Desk-top: at least 1000 mm wide by 430 mm deep work surface. Fixed standard desk height is sufficient, adjustable height is desirable but not essential. Part of the desk can be retractable when not in use. It can be dual purpose furniture for the single office apartment, such as the dining table, a side table. It should be noted that the plans for the building (Le Corbusier 1946) shows a temporary ironing board supported on a castored cabient, similar in design to current home-office furniture. or even the ironing board), but a non-retractable space for a computer monitor and fax/telephone is required. Also 430 mm wide x 430 mm deep x 400 mm high on the desk or within 1000 mm of the desk (above, below or to the side) must be available for a printer.
- Two Drawers or equivalent (small shelves or cabinet) for small office supplies: two drawers at least 420 mm x 420 mm x 80 mm.
- Shelves: adjustable within 2000 mm of the desk:
- 2000 mm total width x 300 mm deep (for large books, equipment)
- 2000 mm total width x 200 mm deep (for CD-ROMs and paperback books)
- Archival storage: equivalent to eight filing cabinet drawers.
- Security: All storage (and for the single office part of desktop with computer monitor and telephone) must be able to be able to be removed from view and locked with at most two deadlocks per desk (Lockwood 355 Security Deadlock or equivalent). For the single office keyholes for locks should be discrete (or preferably not visible at all). Exterior walls of the cabinets are to be at least equivalent in strength to 20 mm MDF.
- Meeting table: A table for occasional meetings of six people is required. This can be dual purpose (for occasional office table/dinner). Access to a telephone socket and power point (can be by retractable cables) required. Within comfortable viewing distance of the entertainment unit (so the TV can be used for Powerpoint presentations) would be desirable.
- Visitor Office: Desk for an occasional visiting worker. This can be a dual purpose unit (such as a meeting/dining table). Access to a telephone socket and power point (can be by retractable cables) required.
- Other furniture:
- Bedroom (sinlge office only): Double bed, chest and side table. Other storage will be in the existing built in wardrobe. If part of the wardrobe is used for the home office, then replacement storage must be provided in furniture in the room. The side table and other furniture can be dual use for the home office (apart from the bed which can't be a retractable model).
- Lounge/dining: Dining table for six, with four chairs normally at the table and two added as required. This can be the dual purpose meeting/visitor desk.
- Sofa bed: to seat two and a double bed (or concealable double bed provided elsewhere in the room).
- Occasional guest wardrobe (sinlge office only): The equivalent of a small wardrobe and set of drawers in the lounge near the sofa bed.
- Two chairs: Can be triple purpose lounge/office/dining chairs.
- Coffee or side table (can be dual purpose office chairs or storage).
- Entertainment unit: Provision for a 68 cm TV/computer monitor, micro hi-fi (410 mm wide x 210 mm deep x 150 mm high), VCR, Digital Set-top-box, DVD player and CD player. Must be able to be cabled to power, TV socket, phone socket (for digital cable TV) and the home office (for internet access via the set-top-box). Must be comfortably visible from the sofa and preferably from the dining table (for meeting use).
The Roman writer Cicero termed what we would call the cultural landscape a second nature (alteram naturam). This was a landscape of bridges, roads, harbours, fields - in short, all the elements which men and women introduce into the physical world to make it more habitable, to make it serve their purposes. (Hunt 1992)
The philosophy of design of the smart apartment is that both work and relaxation have a place in life. Rather than try to completely separate these, life can be improved by recognizing their contributions. A balance must be struck between the two uses of the apartment. There is no need to try to completely hide one function or the other. A home should not be made to look like a corporate office and the office need not be made to look like a glossy magazine's idealized home.
However, as this is an existing home design to be adapted for an office, the aesthetic of the apartment will predominate. Materials and finishes should blend with those already selected for the apartment. Furniture can be dual use, with comfortable but durable finishes suitable for office use.
There are a range of pre-built and modular home office furniture items available. These have major limitations:
- Inflexible design: The units are designed with special fitting for a slide out keyboard, computer monitor hight adjustment, printer paper feed and CPU box. As well as adding to the cost and providing more parts to break, this reduces the flexibility of the design when technology changes. As an example these units do not accommodate new flat screen, lap-top and laser printer equipment.
- Home furniture aesthetic: The units tend to be designed to look like a freestanding "armoire" or wall unit, with large doors to hide the office equipment. The bulk of the unit tends to dominate a small room. Also using fine furniture materials and construction techniques increases the cost of the unit.
- Too many things to close:Some home office units have have a half dozen or so slide-out, roll or fold up panels which need to each be moved to set up or close down the office. There may be several locks needed to secure the unit. Also work may need to be removed from the desktop to close the office. This makes it too cumbersome to use and results in the unit being left open all the time.
- Not secure: Many home office units have no locks or insubstantial locks design for domestic furniture.
Office in a box
To overcome these limitations the "fitted for but not with" approach of a military command and control center (Worthington 1999) is suggested. A civilian equivalent is the LINCOS (Little Intelligent Communities) project's recycling of shipping containers into mobile digital community centres for the developing world.
The home office can be conceived as a few simple cabinets made to blend into the wall of the apartment. There would be generous provision for cabling with large cableways and holes in shelves, but without cable fitted. Each box would have one large hinged door, with one lock. Inside would be equipped with a desk and shelves as required. Modular units design for wardrobes or similar could be used for flexible low cost internal fit-out. The boxes could be built of standard modular units stacked up to near ceiling height and then a custom size door used to provide a neat finish.The large bulk of the units would be disguised by giving them a similar finish to the wall of the apartment, placing them in a corner and with a shelving or entertainment unit alongside (or built into parts). In this way the bulk of the unit would be lessened by appearing to be the wall next to a built-in piece of furniture.
A sample design is provided for a similar floor plan as an dxf file in AutoCAD format. Perspective drawings show the office open and closed. It should be emphasised these are quick sketches and do not take account of the location of power points, data, TV and telephone connections or the exact store required.
Sample Costs for Single Office
|Cabinets||$2,500.00||Modules from Freedom Furniture Conrad Bookcase range and custom built units with a similar finish.|
|Double bed||$599.00||Eastside satin steel with walnut timber veneer from Freedom Furniture|
|Bedside Table 55 x 40 x 46cm||$199.00|
|5 drawer chest 97 x 45 x 83cm||$519.00|
|Dining table 150 x 90cm||$199.00|
|Coffee table 100 x 100cm||$399.00|
|Leather sofa bed||$3,000.00||from King furniture|
- Design for access and mobility - General requirements for access - New building work, AS 1428.1-1998
- Victorian Government design guidelines, 1999
- Lockwood 355 Security Deadlock from Lockwood Products > Deadbolts, Deadlocks and Doorlocks: http://wa.lockwood-aust.com.au/lockwood.nsf/html/Deadbolts,+Deadlocks+and+Doorlocks
- City Edge Apartments, http://www.cityedge.net/
- Hunt, John Dickson. "Gardens and the picturesque: studies in the history of landscape architecture", Massachusetts Institute of Technology 1992. Introduction
- Internet for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, from Net Traveller - Exploring the Networked Nation, ACS 1999
- IT Industry Attraction Project: Information Technology Enterprise in the Great Southern Region of Western Australia, IT Industry Consultancy for the Great Southern Region Development Commission, 8 December 2000
This document is: http://www.tomw.net.au/2001/sa/reqrmnts.html
Copyright © Tom Worthington 2001.