Smart Apartment - Requirements

by Tom Worthington

Version 1.3 6 March 2001


City Edge ApartmentsThe purpose of this document is to provide the requirements for the design of an Internet connected home office or "smart apartment". This will be built into a pre-designed one bedroom unit (type "E.2") under construction at the City Edge development in O'Connor, Canberra.

Promoting Net-connected Design

As well as providing the design for a real apartment, this project is intended to promote the design of net connected homes and offices. Discussion of Internet enabled homes, such as the Sydney Ihome, hhas so far been superficial, with net fridges, plasma wall screens and remote Internet control of appliances providing little practical function at a high cost.

Apartment Floor Plan

The project web site, will provide design documents and background on the design of Web-integrated call centres and telecenters (Worthington 2000) as well as homes. The material may form part of the Net Traveller web site, be used in conference presentations (such as the Connecting Society forum 7th March 2001) or published in book form (Worthington 1999). The design may also be tested using The Wedge a three dimensional visualization system at the Department of Computer Science, Australian National University, where the author is a Visiting Fellow.


The total cost of the project (including designer's fees, materials, good and services) is not to exceed $10,000.


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 layout, color scheme and finishes are to be consistent with the standard interior design for the apartment (color scheme "1"). The locations of power, data, TV and telephone connections in the standard apartment design may limit the location of equipment and therefore cabinets to house them in the design. The location of these connections will need to be discovered from the developer of the complex as it is not show on the plans. There may be a flaw in the standard apartment design with no data connection at the location of the TV (for Transact Pay TV) being provided.



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. With this the home office would 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 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

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.