July 10, 2012
| by Steven Castle
How cool is this house? The Sculptured House, as it is called, was first made famous as the setting in Woody Allen’s futuristic comedy Sleeper, in which Allen disguises himself as a robot and the house contains the famous “Orgasmatron” that was really the tubular liner of its elevator. It’s also been featured on MTV’s Extreme Cribs and HGTV’s Home Strange Home, as well as in a March 2003 issue of Electronic House.
The famous home, which sits above Highway 70 west of Denver, appears futuristic with its clamshell/spaceship shape on a pedestal. And inside, it’s recently been updated to maintain its futuristic theme with a multiscreen Star Trek-inspired command center, a raft of security cameras and a new Elan g! home control system, installed by local custom electronics installation firm Vision Systems.
When current owner Larry Winkler bought the house in 2010, he wanted to it to be a true model for the future. That meant making it more eco-friendly, updating the interior and installing a home entertainment and control system that would allow him to control the entire home from his iPhone. The Elan g! System that controls the lights, heat, air conditioning, whole home audio and video, window shades, security and surveillance systems—and allows the 7,500-square-foot structure to be much more energy-efficient.
“When I first purchased the house I had Excel Energy come out to do a heat and air flow analysis, and it turned out that the home lost 62 percent of its energy every hour,” Winkler said. “That’s more than double what the average house loses, so I replaced doors and installed electrically-heated windows, added insulation and installed new highly efficient heating and cooling units to make the house much more eco-friendly.” With the Elan g! System, Winkler has lighting, heating and cooling schedules so no energy is wasted. “And when I leave I can shut down basically the whole house with the touch of a button on my iPhone.”
Ron Winne and Jeff Kirkham from Vision Systems integrated eight TVs (one in a 5.1-channel media room), six audio zones, 13 climate zones, an HAI security system, a slew of stationary and PTZ (pan, zoom, tilt) IC Realtime surveillance cameras both inside and outside the home, plus more than 100 Lutron HomeWorks QS lighting loads into the Elan g! System, giving Winkler instant control of every major system in the home. They’re controlled by iPads, iPhones and Elan’s TS2 4-inch in-wall touchscreens.
Captain Kirk Control
But the topper is what’s underneath—in the form of an addition containing a control center with four HDTVs and LED lighting so Winkler can view whatever is going on in and around his cool home.
“I had Ron and Jeff from Vision Systems help me design and build a real-life command center that borrows from the aesthetics of the Starship Enterprise,” Winkler said, “Besides the fun sci-fi aspect, the room’s four HDTVs let me have a 360-degree view of every system in my home. One of 65-inch TVs is used for the Elan g! interface, another for the security cameras fed from the security DVR, and the other two for TV. Elan g! is the central nervous system that runs the house and this command center was a fun way to show it off.”
In addition to the home’s central systems, the custom installation pros at Vision Systems also programmed Winkler’s g! System to automate the snow melters on the roof (a must have in Denver). Vision System’s Kirkham says monitoring the temperature and efficiency of the home’s new boiler is next, and the company is looking into using an energy monitoring system, which would show on one of the four TVs in the Enterprise-like command center.
Interestingly, the Sculptured House was first built by architect Charles Deaton, who envisioned the home with curved walls and no corners, to promote serenity and wellness. But Deaton ran out of money and could not finish it, and it sat empty for decades, populated by wolves and woodland creatures and its floor-to-ceiling windows broken so the house looked down at the highway with a shattered grin. Then in 1999, an ex-AOL exec bought the house, spent millions with Deaton’s daughter renovating it, and hired Vision Systems to equip it with some home control, lighting control and audio/video. The company did just that, often wrestling with the home’s concrete and steel frame but managing to make the systems work. Ironically, in 2004 this super-futuristic house was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates