The Smart Apartment

And a Proposed Design for the National Information and Communications Technology Centre of Excellence

For the Bauhaus Serve City Sydney Trimester III, Wednesday 12 June 2002, in Sydney


  1. Introduction
  2. City Edge
  3. Wrong With iHome
  4. Home office design
  5. Design Project
  6. Smart Apartment Technology
  7. Design for NICTA
  8. Books
  9. Home Page

5. Design Project

A draft set of requirements for a home office interior were prepared in March 2001 for a professional interior designer to work from. However, these were too restrictive and limiting for a creative designer. To explore ideas for the "smart apartment" a proposal was put to the Department of Science and Design, University of Canberra for their interior design students to undertake it as a course project. Mr Ross Anderson, Associate Lecturer, Architecture and Building, Department of Science and Design, University of Canberra responded and the project was set as a design studio project for second semester 2001.

Unite d'habitation

General view of building showing pilotis

The design of an Internet connected home was seen as relevant and contemporary design challenge for students. The requirements document for the Smart Apartment was revised to give more scope for interior design students to deal with issue of spatial planning, colours, etc. However, architecturally endorsing the City Edge development in O'Connor was not considered appropriate for a course. At Mr Anderson's suggestion the project was changed to re-fitting an apartment in a building designed by the Swiss architect Le Corbusier.

The apartment building Unite d'habitation was to be a self-contained 'vertical city', with modular housing units for 1600 people, internal streets and community services.

Section showing corridor and two apartments.

While having been designed decades ago, Unite d'habitation has a design similar to current open plan apartments. One curiosity is that the plans for Unite d'habitation (Le Corbusier 1946) show a temporary ironing board supported on a castored cabient, which is similar in design to current home-office furniture.


From: Interior Design 2 Unité d'Habitation 2001, , Ross Anderson, Division of Science and Design, UNIVERSITY OF CANBERRA, URL: project1.rtf :

This project entails developing a proposal for a contemporary fit-out of an apartment in a seminal work of Modern' Architecture- the Unité d"Habitation in Marseilles, designed by Le Corbusier (completed in 1952)

Le Corbusier's original design was a revolutionary proposal for a self-contained 'vertical city', containing apartments as well as community and social services. For this project, you are to concentrate on the apartment component of the design and to rethink what a cutting edge living and working environment might consist of today, taking into account what has been termed the 'information revolution'. Particular emphasis is to be placed on enabling inhabitants to work at home in a 'smart apartment' via the use of internet based Information Technology.

Emphasis is to be placed on integrating new technologies and modes of working with the domestic living environment of the occupant. This will entail making judgements as to what extent such a proposed living and working arrangement is viable, under what conditions, and how the interior fitout of the space can enable these conditions. Issues regarding social interaction, and public space versus private space must be addressed given that visitors , clients and business partners will at times be utilising part of the apartment/s...

Some of these requirements can be married with the domestic living requirements. For example the meeting table can also function as a dining table, or the presentation unit, can also be the entertainment unit. Domestic items are to be determined as required for your client's living needs. (bed, wardrobe, occasional guest wardrobe, coffee table etc.)

Particular attention must be paid to accommodation of services (electricity, data cabling, television and telephone connections etc.)

Smart Apartment Design by Ian Douglas

A prize was awarded to Ian Douglas on 8th November 2001 at the End of Year Exhibition for the Interior Design Students of the University of Canberra for his design.

Birdseye View Workstations Plans

One of the interesting aspects of many of the student designs is that they celebrated, rather than attempted to hide the high technology nature of the the design. Rather than take an "office in a box" approach, the screens of the computer system were made a design feature of the apartment. As an example slim LCD computer screens are now affordable for home offices, as are wireless data communications. This allows more flexibility for the designer. However, some technologies, such as plasma screen TVs, will be prohibitively expensive for the foreseeable future. At approximately $10,000 for a plasma screen TV, it is cheaper top achieve a slim-line effect by building a 50cm deep wall unit and recessing a conventional $2,000 TV into it.

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