For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for Nature cannot be fooled.
~Richard Feynman

DTS PROJECT TECHNOLOGY NARRATIVE

The DTS Project House integrates well tested and state-of-the-art technology into every aspect of the project. Technology impacts the design process and dialogue among architect, client, and consultants. Technology makes the design intent possible and makes glamorous design sustainable. Technology makes enhanced operation, monitoring, and managing of the house possible with minimal effort. And most importantly, technology gives the DTS Project House its architectural character and allows one to experience the most fundamental and primal aspects of living in the house and on the property.

DTS Project House

The DTS Project House is conceived in the spirit and linage of projects like Kocher and Frey’s Aluminaire House and Richard Neutra’s VDL House. The architectural agenda includes demonstrating the integration of the most significant current technology while also simultaneously looking to history and to the future. The DTS Project House attempts to conserve meaningful technologies perfected over time and provide for the integration of future innovations. It proposes to show how technology can be an integral and significant aspect of sustainable architecture. The house proposes a life integrated with technology and the aesthetic experience of life. The DTS Project House is intended to model an attitude and process that integrates technology as a significant and vital aspect of architectural achievement, but it does not intend to serve as a model for a particular design aesthetic. The DTS Project House is equally house (the building) and project (the process).

Design Process and Documentation

mills studio and the Owners have employed the most current computer, camera and application technologies, to conduct and document the design process, and evaluate the design. Drone technology was used to document both the macro and micro aspects of the site and neighborhood context.  The DTS Project House was chiefly designed in 3D models with 2D construction documents generated from the models. The design was presented and evaluated using fly throughs of multiple 3D models, a myriad of screen shots of 3D models, and renderings looking at materials in their architectural context. BIMx models were generated for the client’s contemplation.

The DTS Project House exploits the opportunities offered by many significant technologies that we now take for granted, such as file sharing sites like Box.net, real time communication sites, and video conferencing sites. These and similar technologies allowed the design process to consider and integrate the information and input generated by the efforts of an almost unlimited number of disparate specialists located throughout the world.     

Construction Process and Documentation

The same technologies that have dramatically enhanced the design process have also enhanced the construction process. The ability to simultaneously and in real time gain the input of multiple consultants, sub-contractors, vendors, fabricators, and craftsmen remote from the site allows for the integrated approach necessary to build the DTS Project House. The construction process is managed and documented with the use of POE and wireless IP Cameras mounted on and off site. Various applications like Spyware provide all interested parties access to the cameras and their data on devices from cell phones to desk top computers. mills studio and the construction are able to benefit from the real time input of consultants and contractors and parties remote from the site are able to benefit from real time observation of the construction. Drone photography documents major milestones in the construction process.

Research Program

mills studio and the Owner’s engaged in a continuous program of research during the design and construction process. The research program documented the best examples of relevant existing technologies; document current state-of-the-art technologies; and document the trends predicting future technological innovations. mills studio expanded upon its architectural agenda with a detailed criteria for evaluating the results of specific research so that the information gathered was actionable. No matter how seductive, the technology must further the architectural agenda and further it better than any other option and would simultaneously address multiple project intentions.

mills studio and the Owners took field trips to existing projects to document the relevance of existing technologies to the DTS Project House. These included a visit to Herzog and de Meuron’s Dominus Winery to experience the pros and cons of rock filled gabions. mills studio developed an extensive itinerary for visiting and documenting a wide variety of existing technology throughout the United States including exposed concrete and Apple Stores to document the latest in glass technology and glass fittings.

mills studio and the Owners attended numerous general building and product shows throughout the United States and specialized shows for particular categories of technology, such as CEDIA, The World of Concrete, and LightFair International. The Owners also attended technology manufacturer’s product launches, such as Elon Musk’s announcement of Tesla’s photovoltaic roof tiles at Universal Studios. These activities kept us aware of the myriad of options that current technological innovations offer and the areas of life that future innovations are likely to alter.   

The Owners have invested in the development of new technologies through sites like KickStarter with the intent of keeping aware of the most current and experimental technologies and gaining access to those technologies before they are commercially available. The Owners and mills studio evaluated products like a new shower systems which the company Nebia intends will “fundamentally change the way people think about their relationship to water in their home and Sonte’s Smart Film which is WIFI enabled and turns from clear to opaque in less than a second.

Curiosity and an openness to recognize the relevance of the unanticipated often outweighs the best planed intentions. Some of the most important technological discoveries incorporated into the DTS Project House did not come directly from our intentional efforts, but were unexpected finds. The Owner’s discovery of Basalte Switches was accidental in the context of a private concert by John Legend. Our consciousness of SkyFrame products was triggered by one of the Owner’s routine walk past a construction site.

Building Materials

Through research, the input of experts in specific fields, and investments in start-ups, the DTS Project House employs state-of-the-art technology in materials, manufacturing processes, and installation methods. The technological attributes of modern materials are exploited to enhance the performance and sustainability of products, make common materials useful for unique purposes, and otherwise contribute to the achievement of the architectural agenda.

Products like concrete formwork releasing agents and concrete additives disappear in the finished building.  Specialty hardware used to install floor members and modern felts provide for improved acoustical performance. Enhancements like switched glass and applied films along with short throw projectors allow glass to serve unexpected purposes. Finishes like Concreate and ink jet porcelain tiles use modern manufacturing processes to create man made materials. Breathable building wraps and spray foam insulations contribute to the long-term performance and sustainability of the building. A reflective stainless steel pool shell and acrylic turn an exercise pool into a dramatic water feature. Manufacturing processes using CNC machines, water jets, and 3D printers use the computer to turn modern materials into precise fabrications that contrast with the crafted features of the DTS Project House.

Building Systems

The DTS Project House’s architectural character comes from the use of well tested, even ancient, technologies juxtaposed with the best of the modern world. Conservation of important old technologies is equally as important as the inovation of new technologies. The gabion filled cages employed are not an innovative technology, but the specific construction techniques developed improve the technology, make the technology modern, and make for the innovative context for the modern technologies. Concrete is one of man’s oldest technologies and its organic qualities are amplified by the formwork technologies employed. The physical and visual weight of the natural rock filled gabion walls and concrete create the context for the modern man-made steel technology. The unique attributes of structural steel technology create the building’s cantilevers, allow for the extensive glass, and the exposed steel structure is expressive of the structure giving role of architecture. A single technology address multiple intentions and technology provides for structured liberation – a responsible freedom. The juxtaposition of technologies of man-made precision and natural imprecision intensify the technological attributes of each.

Building Components

State-of-the-art building components contribute to making the architecture responsible. Skyframe motorized operable doors and windows with highly energy efficient glass are programmed to automatically respond to environmental factors. Solar panels and visually integrated SunPower photovoltaic panels provide renewable energy and Tesla’s Power Wall 2 back up battery system provides both for power while the sun is not shining and when the power grid is down. Carousel USA’s vehicle turntable allows for a smaller motor court and heat island effect. Components like spring loaded gym floors, standing desks, and ergonomically designed furniture are technologies geared toward the Owner’s health and well-being. Even the most elemental components like fire employ new technologies such as Dimplex’s Opti-Myst burners that employ “revolutionary ultrasonic technology” to create the authentic illusion of flames by reflecting light against water molecules.

Fixtures and Appliances

Fixtures and Appliances are where technology can positively affect the convenience of everyday living and reduce energy and resource usage. Plumbing fixtures were chosen for technologies that meet the most stringent water saving standards. Fixture take advantage of the most current antimicrobial finishes. Toto toilets have “intelligent” technologies like self-soft closing and warm seats, “washlet” features, and LED nighttime lighting. Geberit wall hung toilet technology is also employed throughout. Faucets were evaluated for their voice, touch, and foot activated technologies, as well as built-in filtration options. Commercial technologies are used in Toto urinals with motion activated EcoPower self-powered hydroelectric flush valves and Dyson Airblade hand dryers in “public” bathrooms. Kohler “Konnect” technology is used for voice activated shower experiences.       

Appliances were chosen for technologies that meet the most stringent energy saving standards and also save energy by providing notifications such as when a refrigerator door is left open. The dryer and dishwashers only run when energy is available from renewable sources and if the power grid must be used these appliances operate when rates are the lowest. Appliances are app connected with options for mobile and more importantly voice control. Ovens can be made to preheat from anywhere and verbal instructions can direct the microwave. The ventilation hood’s operations are directly connected to the cooking operations on the cooktop and hood lighting can be integrated with lighting scenes. Appropriate appliances can be included in Home Automation scenes, such as coffee makers in the Wake-up Scene. Appliances also take advantage of new “print proof” finishes.

Lighting

The most current technologies are employed to both generate and control artificial light, and to control natural light. All lighting fixtures are LED for their energy efficiency and long lasting life. Technological and scientific advances provide data on how the attributes of natural and artificial light affect our bodies so much attention is paid to the attributes of the lamp specifications, such as kelvin warmth levels, in order to address the potential negative health effects of blue light and blue light’s effects on circadian rhythms. There is an attempt to use the scientific qualities of natural light and how they change during the day as a guide to addressing the need to reinforce circadian rhythms. Fixtures providing the option for colored lighting in addition to white light (RGBW) are used extensively.

As important as the fixtures are to the quality of light in the DTS Project House is the ability to control the natural lighting, dim and group artificial lighting, and use artificial colored light where appropriate. Natural light is controlled both for energy purposes and to affect light quality. The home automation system automatically controls mobile shading panels, controls shades and window coverings, and controls awnings in direct real time responses to current environmental factors. Basalte light switches, iPads, iPhones, and voice activated Alexa and Goggle are used to provide  control of artificial lighting and override purely environmental responses to natural light. There now exists all of the hardware technology necessary to implement any lighting control option, so innovation in light control is now a software and user interface design issue. Much effort was expended to narrow down the unlimited control options in order that control be useful and not overwhelming, and the same effort was expended to make the user interface with all of the various lighting control devices as intuitive and as effortless as possible so that the technology quickly becomes as second nature as using our cell phones has become.      

Modern Living

The DTS Project House integrates provisions for many aspects of modern living that are driven by current technological developments. Multiple Tesla charging stations provide for re-charging  the Owner’s multiple Tesla electric vehicles. The power for charging comes mostly from the back-up battery storage when the house requires very little energy at night. The need for secure deliveries of packages from online purchases is addressed and consideration has been given to the future possibilities of both drone and robotic delivery. Secure refrigerated storage accessible to food delivery services addresses the way many meals and groceries are now purchased and delivered. Access to the DTS Project House is keyless just like most cars are now keyless. Cell phones, tablets, and other devices are now our constant companions and the DTS Project House provides for the easy charging of the Owner’s and guest’s android and ios devices throughout the property. The house’s communication technologies also address the need for working cell phone service on the networks of the major carriers since guests will need access to a variety of networks. The house’s audio and video systems allow the necessity for guests to easily access wifi and share both music and video from their personal devices on the house’s systems. There is less and less a distinction between the home / private and office / professional life. The technological implications of the home office are addressed throughout the DTS Project House in the layout of the house, the electrical, lighting and low voltage systems, and furniture pieces.

Web Site

Like a lot of architecture today, the DTS Project House is likely to be experienced on-line by many more people than experience it in person. No matter how good the photography, images cannot duplicate or replace the actual experience of good architecture. There is no substitute for the spatial experience if the architecture is actually a spatial experience.  Thus, the website does not attempt to stand in for an actual experience of the architecture, but instead attempts to show how the DTS Project House emerges from mills studio’s and the Owner’s attitudes and intentions, and shows the processes that mills studio and the Owners instituted to implement those intentions. The web site aims to show the immense effort required to design and construct architecture; the number of disparate contributions required to be unified into a single vision; and the myriad of diverse factors to be considered and accounted for in an integrated whole. The DTS Project House website is also intended as a resource sharing the expertise of consultants, contractors, and vendors, and crediting all those entities that contributed to the final project outcome.           

In art there are only fast or slow developments. Essentially it is a matter of evolution, not revolution.
~Bela Bartok