eUnite - Smart Apartment Design Requirements

by Tom Worthington

Version 1.2, 2 May 2001

For presentation to the the design studio project, second semester 2001, Department of Science and Design, University of Canberra, 3 May 2001


The purpose of this document is to provide the requirements for the design of an Internet connected home office or "smart apartment".

Net-connected Design

Discussion of Internet enabled homes, such as the Sydney Ihome, has so far been superficial, with net fridges, plasma wall screens and remote Internet control of appliances providing little practical function at a high cost.Technologies, such as Transact's high speed network, provide the potential for affordable useful services.


The total cost of the project (including designer's fees, materials, good and services) is not to exceed:

  1. Single office apartment: $AU10,000.
  2. Multi-office apartment: $50,000


The structure of the building is not to be altered (no changes or additions to walls, but the breakfast bar can be modified to build an office desk into it, for example). All furniture and fixtures added are to be removable. This is to minimize the need for approval by body corporate and allow changes to the design. The designer may choose to match the layout, color scheme and finishes consistent with the original intentions of the architect, or provide a new style. The locations of power, data, TV and telephone connections in the standard apartment design would limit the location of equipment and therefore cabinets to house them in the design. However, the location of these are not show on the plans and can be placed as required.


Two designs are to be developed:

  1. Single office apartment: Designed into the lounge of of a dual use living/working apartment.
  2. Multi-office apartment: Designed to turn the whole apartment into a multi-room office, for a minimum of four staff.

General requirements


The Roman writer Cicero termed what we would call the cultural landscape a second nature (alteram naturam). This was a landscape of bridges, roads, harbours, fields - in short, all the elements which men and women introduce into the physical world to make it more habitable, to make it serve their purposes. (Hunt 1992)

Sligh Home Office Computer CabinetThe philosophy of design of the smart apartment is that both work and relaxation have a place in life. Rather than try to completely separate these, life can be improved by recognizing their contributions. A balance must be struck between the two uses of the apartment. There is no need to try to completely hide one function or the other. A home should not be made to look like a corporate office and the office need not be made to look like a glossy magazine's idealized home.

Sligh modular office wall unitHowever, as this is an existing home design to be adapted for an office, the aesthetic of the apartment will predominate. Materials and finishes should blend with those already selected for the apartment. Furniture can be dual use, with comfortable but durable finishes suitable for office use.

There are a range of pre-built and modular home office furniture items available. These have major limitations:

Office in a box

To overcome these limitations the "fitted for but not with" approach of a military command and control center (Worthington 1999) is suggested. A civilian equivalent is the LINCOS (Little Intelligent Communities) project's recycling of shipping containers into mobile digital community centres for the developing world.

The home office can be conceived as a few simple cabinets made to blend into the wall of the apartment. There would be generous provision for cabling with large cableways and holes in shelves, but without cable fitted. Each box would have one large hinged door, with one lock. Inside would be equipped with a desk and shelves as required. Modular units design for wardrobes or similar could be used for flexible low cost internal fit-out. The boxes could be built of standard modular units stacked up to near ceiling height and then a custom size door used to provide a neat finish.The large bulk of the units would be disguised by giving them a similar finish to the wall of the apartment, placing them in a corner and with a shelving or entertainment unit alongside (or built into parts). In this way the bulk of the unit would be lessened by appearing to be the wall next to a built-in piece of furniture.

Sample design

Suggested plan

A sample design is provided for a similar floor plan as an dxf file in AutoCAD format. Perspective drawings show the office open and closed. It should be emphasised these are quick sketches and do not take account of the location of power points, data, TV and telephone connections or the exact store required.

Office open

Home Office Perspective - open

Office closed

Home Office Perspective - closed

Sample Costs for Single Office

Cabinets $2,500.00 Modules from Freedom Furniture Conrad Bookcase range and custom built units with a similar finish.
Double bed $599.00 Eastside satin steel with walnut timber veneer from Freedom Furniture
Bedside Table 55 x 40 x 46cm $199.00
5 drawer chest 97 x 45 x 83cm $519.00
Dining table 150 x 90cm $199.00
Coffee table 100 x 100cm $399.00
Six Chairs $894.00
Leather sofa bed $3,000.00 from King furniture
Total $8,309.00


Further Information

This document is:

Copyright Tom Worthington 2001.