Life on automatic

Smart technologies are revolutionizing the possible applications of technical building services. An initial look forward to ISH 2019 reveals how good indoor air quality and conditioning can be automated, without the individual losing personal control.
This Hamburg residential and commercial building by entrepreneur Lars Hinrichs demonstrates the potential of smart technologies.

The twilight hour over Hamburg is precisely when one particular building in the upmarket district of Rotherbaum really gets to work. The “Apartimentum” is a concept by entrepreneur Lars Hinrichs: From the letterbox to the ventilation control, every function here is smart. The residential and commercial building is the first large-format example of what is now feasible in terms of automated building technology: When the residents return home, the rooms have already been set to a feel-good temperature, the light is adjusted to evening ambiance via a smartphone app, and the music system has started to play the familiar sounds of the occupant’s favorite record in the desired room. As the apartment door opens as the resident approaches, the home is all set for the day to be seen out in comfort.

The project was planned and realized by KPW Papay Warncke und Partner Architekten, who are themselves based in Hamburg. The new building boasts an existing historical street-side frontage, and is topped off with a two-story penthouse. It’s therefore all the more difficult to see from the outside just what lies within, and just how surprisingly analog the apartments seem. After all, the real features are hidden behind the scenes.

Technology does not have to look technical: The “Apartimentum” gives an extremely analog impression, even if everything from letterboxes to air conditioning and ventilation is smart.

A life on automatic – the advantages are simply immense. And manufacturers are making preparations accordingly, as is evident again at ISH in Frankfurt, the world’s leading trade show for water, heating and climate control, which kicks off in a few days. While coziness as such can’t be measured, HVAC systems with corresponding sensors can most certainly make sure that the ambient climate in rooms is geared to personal preferences and the air in a room is fresh and free from carbon dioxide, pollutants and odors. Thanks to localized and central solutions, the systems for this can be created in the smallest format for individual homes but also for apartment blocks, and can be made suitable for both old and new buildings.

Cutting-edge knowledge relating to energy efficiency, retrofitting and energy-related renovations, ambient air quality and environment quality, as well as building information modelling, are all to be found at ISH’s Climate Forum, a joint program of presentations organized by Messe Frankfurt in cooperation with the trade association Fachverband Gebäude-Klima. “Change your ventilator for greater efficiency,” is the name of a campaign that the trade association is running together with leading ventilator manufacturers and with the support of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy: The slogan is intended to emphasize “the huge potential for energy savings in the operation of building services systems” if people are willing to “switch to modern ventilators with greater system efficiency”.

Among many of the exhibitors at ISH, the clear focus is on personal needs: Under the motto “breathe easy”, Trox, for example, promises greater quality of life. Whether we feel good or not is dictated by our own personal perceptions and “not by digital measurements”, as the North Rhine-Westphalia-based manufacturer explains. Its approach? “Trox uses digital technologies to support us as human beings in increasing our perceived wellbeing.” Viessmann, which is involved in the Hamburg project, likewise shies away from a blanket approach to automated control technology. With the “ViCare” app, users can adjust room temperatures, hot water temperatures, and switch times for heating and hot water from their mobile end devices. The app also serves as an interface between the user and specialist tradesmen where maintenance is required. Ventilation systems manufacturer Maico offers something similar thanks to compatibility with the manufacturer-independent “wibutler” system, which was acquired by the Viessmann Group in 2018. It can be used to control not only ventilation applications, but also countless other building applications integrated into the network.

Scene change – Hamburg: The “Apartimentum” is currently entirely let, as the project’s administration team informs us. The tenants, who have been living in the building for almost two years and are therefore also the guinea pigs for the intelligent technology, are overwhelmingly positive about the many features of their homes. The applications are complex and do require a certain degree of cooperation across different trades for everything to function seamlessly, so the ISH represents an important meeting point for manufacturers, planners and installers to get up to date and exchange ideas. (mh)

Messegelände Frankfurt/Main
March 11 to 15, 2019

Opening hours:
March 11 to 14, 2019: 9 AM – 6 PM
March 15, 2019: 9 AM – 5 PM (open to the public)