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House of the future will 'pick and mix' technologies

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The late 1980s vision of the home of the future with a computer in the kitchen and a goat in the garden has been superseded by a new incongruity: a house with a reed bed outside and computerised lighting within. These are two of the possible 'pick and mix' elements in integer (Intelligent and Green Housing Project), a vision which will start to be realised when it goes on site in Harlow and West Bromwich later this year.

A team from the European Intelligent Building Group, Berkeley Partnership Homes and the bre has been working on the project for two years, and will reveal its findings next week. A report produced by Peter Concannon, of engineer Oscar Faber, highlights a number of opportunities which he says 'provide designers with a 'shopping list' to choose those technologies appropriate to their integer developments'.

These technologies include: solar panels for hot water or whole-house solar heating (photovoltaics are too expensive to install to be used widely); water from bore-holes; rainwater collection; recycling of grey water; reed beds for natural filtration; central computers to control lighting and energy; 'intelligent' controllers that respond to variations in room occupancy, weather conditions and fuel cost; remote monitoring and control of the home; stack ventilation and automatic blinds in tempered zones such as conservatories; enhanced security measures, particularly for vulnerable groups.

Eighteen flats will be built on the Harlow site, and more in West Bromwich, where the site area is 1.6 ha. A total of 12 local authorities and housing associations have signed up to take part in the realisation of the project.

Some of the integer ideas were incorporated in a model house which formed part of a dti-sponsored exhibition in Australia last November.

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