Showing off electronics delivers even more impact when it seems there’s really not much to see. That’s the beauty of this luxury penthouse—located on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus—whose architecture itself is such a thing of beauty that you wouldn’t possibly want to mess with it. For most of the day, the stunning interior simply speaks for itself, without much hint that the room offers entertainment beyond an elegantly wall-mounted flat-panel television. But when the homeowner fires up a movie for guests, at the press of a button the room puts on quite a show.
This is when, as deftly installed and programmed by local custom electronics pro Elytronic, the technology choreography commences: the lighting begins to dim; the motorized blinds slowly cover the windows; a 106-inch screen drops down in front of the TV; a projector descends from its ceiling hideout; and the invisible surround-sound speakers and subwoofers make their presence known.
“The owner is a developer for real estate apartments and houses, so he knew about automation and he wanted to do something special to show customers that was a bit over the top. Plus he likes the stuff as well, so he understands how it’s able to make his life easier,” says Elytronic’s Harris Epameinondas. “The most challenging part was to create an amazing space without the electronics being shown, so nobody knows there’s a projector, a screen, the speakers, until they suddenly appear. The coordination of the gear took the ceiling guys, the heating guys, the interior designer … because everybody’s part of it, and bringing everyone on the same page.”
Elytronic worked throughout the roughly 2,000-square-foot penthouse while it was being renovated, so the company could carefully provide detailed plans and exact dimensions for all of that coordination. For example, the five Stealth Acoustics AX3 speakers and pair of Stealth B1630 passive subwoofers are truly invisible in the ceiling, but they required particular metal structures to ensure the ceiling wouldn’t shake during a movie (especially the area around the subs). Their installation also necessitated special instructions for the ceiling painter so the speakers would receive the proper finishing that wouldn’t muffle the sound.
And since you can’t see the speakers, we’ll just tell you that the front three channels reside in front of the screen housing, while the rear surrounds flank the Chief projector lift and the two subwoofer panels sit between the family room and adjacent open dining room area.
(View images of this media room here)
“In the living room, what people want these days [for A/V], it’s a compromise between aesthetics and performance,” says Epameinondas. “The invisible 5.1 Stealth Acoustics system is kind of a compromise, but on the other hand it looks amazing and sounds very good. It’s magical.”
Speaking of the ceiling, one of the more creative feats in designing and installing the Screenview dropdown screen was the housing itself. As further illustration of Elytronic’s teamwork with the other trades involved, rather than install a simple, rectangular box to hold the screen when it’s not in use, the room’s partial faux ceiling gently curves over the housing to create a seamless façade that carries forth the rest of the modern look.
On the electronics side, the coordination is governed by a Control4 system that triggers the automated events in the big reveal, which along with the A/V and lights/shades can also include bringing the room temperature to a certain level. Lutron lighting and motorized shades can be set accordingly at the press of a button, whether the viewing calls for the 60-inch plasma screen or the 106-incher. Either way, the views are always impressive in this penthouse.
As this room was being built, so was a marble wall especially for the TV. Suffice it to say, marble is not the easiest material to deal with for a wall-mounted TV installation, so the custom pros at Elytronic had to provide exacting dimensions in order to recess the 60-inch Pioneer plasma and create a flush appearance.
“We asked to cut it for the TV, and also to have it painted black behind the TV so the screen would blend in,” says Elytronic’s Harris Epameinondas. “The owner was sure he wanted that wall, so that’s also why we put the speakers in the ceiling. Our best design was to recess the TV as much as we could so the screen was the only thing showing.”
On the other side of the TV wall is the A/V equipment rack closet, which features an active cooling system and industrial-grade fan to keep the hot air flowing outside. A thermostat in the closet lets the fan operate only when necessary.
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Arlen writes about home technology installations and product news and reviews for electronichouse.com
and Electronic House magazine.