The SUNDAY TIMES
British Homes Awards 2012
DESIGN BRIEF: "TOMORROW'S SMARTHOME" COMPETITION
In partnership with BRE, The New Homes Marketing Board, RIBA, and CEDIA the annual awards' competition called for design submissions for Tomorrow's SmartHome.
As we move towards a digital society, smart home systems and technologies will become a standard feature in our homes and occupants' expectations of what these systems can deliver will increase. Individual systems already exist for our homes that can control and monitor heating, water, lighting, healthcare and entertainment.
This competition is seeking integrated, inter-operable solutions that demonstrate the application of digital monitoring and control systems in the home. Download the design brief or visit
It is planned that the winning design will be built at the 2013 Ideal Home Show and then moved to the BRE Innovation Park to stand as a live example of how excellent design, sustainability and smart technologies can be integrated.
Download the design brief
ENTRIES CLOSED: Friday 15th JUNE 2012
All questions and answers to the design brief are be listed here.
Q - Is there a site for this house?
For which site and location and climate is this home to be designed for? A - The site is the BRE innovation Park at Garston, Watford. We have yet to confirm the specific plot.
Q - If shortlisted as one of the 10 selected projects is there a prize money?
A - There is no prize money at any stage of the competition
Q - How strict are the 8m x8m dimensions. Does it have to be square or could it be rectangular in shape but take up the same 64msq footprint area?
A - It has to be 8m x 8m to match the plot dimensions available on the BRE Innovation Park
(Q) Footprint. A) Does the 8.0m x 8.0m referred to include associated external space? B) Are the dimensions a guide, or can the proportions vary? C) Does the 8.0m x 8.0m include car parking space, particularly if integral garage?
(A) The footprint of 8.0 x 8.0 m doesn't include external areas. The actual dimensions may vary slightly, but for the purpose of this exercise the dimensions given in the brief will count. Prior to going into the detailed design phase, there will be an opportunity for shortlisted participants to do a survey of the site. The footprint includes car parking space if an integral garage is designed in.
(Q) Link to BRE Innovations Park landscape provides no guidance about where this new building will be located, its orientation or how it will relate to the existing buildings. Can further guidance be provided please. This information is important for determining solar panel positioning, daylight penetration/shading, wind sheltering, window location/overlooking etc. These issues have significant ramifications for energy monitoring.
(A) - The nominal plot for the house is the one currently occupied by the Ecotech house (picture below, in red). The house currently on the plot is due for deconstruction soon. BRE reserves the right to change the plot nearer the time of building, so the design might need to be adjusted accordingly.
(Q) Does the construction of the house at Earls Court preclude all features which would require excavation? IE foundations, drainage, rainwater recycling, ground source heat pumps, below ground services intake (electricity, gas, water, comms)? B) Which of the above restrictions also apply at BRE Innovations Park?
(A) - For the exhibition at Earls Court's conditions, please contact Mike Gazzard of BHA (Cc. in this email). With regards to the plot at the Innovation Park, the demonstration building should be a fully working building and should be built in every part, including foundations, drainage, etc.
(Q) How will the "successful integration of innovative technologies with a simple and flexible user interface" be evaluated by the judges?
(A) - A technical panel will be appointed to judge the technical side of the smart home; judges will take into account how seamlessly the technologies are integrated in the house, inter-operating with each other, and how easy it is for the average user to control them through a user interface.
(Q) Any indication of what the 'realistic budget parameters' are?
(A) - Obviously, costs of innovative, pioneering buildings near zero carbon are influenced by a number of variables and add-ons that ordinary, Building Regulation compliant dwellings may not have. Purely as a rough indication, we have been given an estimation for a typical 3-bed Building Regulation compliant dwelling in the BRE area of £1,100/sq m, however this doesn't include any innovative system or measures. It would be reasonable to expect higher costs than that, but we would suggest approaching a cost consultant that could work out whole life costing for the project and advise accordingly.
(Q) Ground source pumps would seem to be at odds with a demountable and movable construction?
(A) - Ground source heat pumps have been used in the Innovation Park before; the reason why we ask for removable/demountable structures is that the building will need to be transported from the Ideal Home Show to BRE and also deconstructed and all materials / technologies reused/recycled at the end of their usable life. If GSHP is a technology of choice for you, it may be a case of not installing the full kit at the Ideal Home Show, and install it once the building is at BRE.
(Q) Should the competition scheme consider flood proof design?
(A) - If flood proofing is part of your design vision for a smart home, than yes. However, this is not a requirement of the brief.
(Q) Do I need specialist knowledge of electronics and systems to regulate the building?
· Am I designing one?
(A) - At this stage of the competition you will not need specific knowledge of systems, but certainly a general understanding of what innovative smart systems can do, as this will affect your design; we are planning a technical workshop before the closure of the competition to bring all designers up to speed. You may benefit from engineering support later on, and also I suggest you have a look at the suggested publication: Nicholl, A. and Perry, M. 'Smart home systems and the Code for Sustainable Homes – a BRE guide', BR506, IHS BRE Press, 2009.
(Q) What sort of visual response do you imagine to show how the electronic smart systems fit into the house make up?
(A) - I can't respond to this question, as this will be very much up to the designers and their vision of what is possible in modern, innovative buildings.
(Q) Is SAP Worksheet 9.81 appropriate for rating the proposed building?
(A) - You will need to use the Code for Sustainable Homes, Level 5 criteria to show the house will perform as requested in the competition. The Code requires, in its Technical guidance (page 36) the use of the current SAP methodology and version which is SAP 2009 version 9.90, dated March 2010, rev October 2010.
(Q) Is parking essential in the house and if yes what should the dimensions be?
(A) - The parking element is not essential; if you want to include it, it will need to be integral to the footprint given in the brief, and will need to follow standard residential design guidelines.
(Q) What is the height limit for the house?
(A) - The house needs to be a maximum of three storeys high, in keep with the other buildings on site.
(Q) Are we supposed to propose specific companies from which we will select our materials and construction?
(A) - If you have specific material/technology knowledge and contacts to support your project, that will be beneficial at the construction phase, however not fundamental at this stage of the competition.
(Q) Is there a specific site at either Earls Court or the Bre Innovation park that the home should be designed for, or is it possible to design the home around another chosen site of our own?
(A) - The nominal plot for the house is the one currently occupied by the Ecotech house on the Park (picture below, in red). The house currently on the plot is due for deconstruction soon. BRE reserves the right to change the plot nearer the time of building, so the design might need to be adjusted accordingly.
(Q) In regards to the 8mx8m footprint, does this mean alternatively the house could occupy an area 64m² of any footprint dimensions or is it limited to the 8mx8m in area?
(A) - The footprint of 8.0 x 8.0 m doesn't include external areas. Any external area will need to be fitting within the current landscape scheme, with some opportunity for changing it. The actual dimensions may vary slightly, but for the purpose of this exercise the dimensions given in the brief will count. Prior to going into the detailed design phase, there will be an opportunity for shortlisted participants to do a survey of the site.
(Q) Is the 8mx8m footprint to include any area for garden and carparking, or can this be additional? If so, are there any restrictions regarding how much additional area may be added?
(A) - The footprint includes car parking space if an integral garage is designed in. Any landscape will be additional to the 8mx8m footprint.
(Q) Can we propose ideas for new technologies that may not exist yet?
(A) - You can choose to integrate technologies that do not exist yet, but we would accept that only if you have a plan of how they could be developed in real terms.