Fitzwilliam Penthouse, Dublin, Ireland
The brief for this new-build fifth-floor penthouse was to make the most desirable guest-room suite in the city. The drawback was that the envelope of the space was predetermined by planning requirements and height restrictions. In order to make some kind of architectural statement, we at Project Orange chose to use the 300mm of ceiling build-up to make a dynamic and sculptural ceiling plane. Within it are three conditions of lighting: natural light brought in through skylights, artificial concealed lighting and direct surface lighting. The design of the ceiling was made up of five different-sized plates that could be tessellated and overlapped to accommodate the wiring and pipe work for air conditioning. The apparently random arrangement is an abstract expression of the services behind, though the overall impression is of a fractal punctuated surface. The construction is a standard MF ceiling system with two layers of plasterboard to achieve the required fire rating. Within the void there are electrical cable trays, ducted fresh air and refrigerant pipes to fan-coil units. The flush light fittings are Mini Trimless, by Modular Lighting, and there is a click strip along the curtain recess to create an accent along the edge.
Where there are skylights, a frosted removable Perspex sheet diffuses the light and allows access to the lamps behind that simulate daylight during the evening. Also concealed are occupancy sensors that activate lighting as guests move through the spaces. Other technical elements that were integrated included a Lutron lighting-control system, Pioneer plasma screens, Tilevision televisions in the bathroom, and motorised curtain tracks by Silent Gliss. The biggest challenge however was to try to get the different technologies to 'talk' to each other and to avoid the problem of numerous remote controls. This can be done, but it is expensive. The next generation of remote controlled systems will be more flexible and intelligent, but at the moment even at the luxury end of the market there are significant problems in connectivity between different products and manufacturers.