Old meets new: Future proofing with a heritage twist at The Gentry

Step inside the heritage façade of The Gentry, an assemblage of brick, sandblasted glazing and stainless steel, and it will feel, all at once, like a mid-century, modern-day masterpiece.

 It’s 6.30pm on a Friday evening and you’re running late home from work. Friends are coming over at 7pm so to help prepare the space for their arrival, you tap the app on your phone to draw open the blinds, turn on the lights and some music, and adjust the thermostat to 20°C.

This is the sort of innovated brilliance that will enhance the way residents of The Gentry, a Thirdi Group development in Alexandria, go about their daily lives. Thirdi Group’s director of sales and marketing, Luke Berry, says advancements in home technology helped influence the design of the project, which is in line with today’s push toward more personalised interiors.

“On the tech front, our approach to home automation is based on a Google Android system and the AI [Artificial Intelligence] is Cloud-based so it stores the artificial intelligence of you as the home owner in the Cloud,” says Berry.

“The technology will raise the blinds in summer, turn the air conditioning on or start warming the space so that by the time you pull into your garage you are not pulling into a dark and cold space.”

Berry says while The Gentry’s home automation itself is not yet equipped to whip up a large feast on its own, it might soon be able to turn coffee machines on and pour the perfect piccolo. Berry says he is working with home automation providers toward further enhancing the app’s capabilities to anticipate the needs of the homeowner.

Berry likens the technology to J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just a Rather Very Intelligent System), the computerised AI developed to manage everything in comic book superhero Ironman’s life.

Residents of The Gentry will be able to to control lighting, security, wireless entertainment and climate at the tap of an app.
Residents of The Gentry will be able to to control lighting, security, wireless entertainment and climate at the tap of an app.

“The challenge I’ve set my team is to be able to program the coffee machine to make yourself a coffee to time with when you get out of bed or arrive home from work. We are working towards that and we are not too far away from achieving it,” he says.

“Technology has revamped how The Gentry was designed and Thirdi is passionate about pushing for more innovative interfaces that make an incredible impact on the way we live.”

Berry says in addition to being able to control lighting, security, wireless entertainment and climate control at the tap of an app, residents of The Gentry will benefit from the installation of a Tesla Powerwall.

“The home will have the latest generation energy technology in order to learn the habits of the home user,” he explains. “It will be able to research the weather and, if a hot day is predicted, it will store the energy in the battery and turn the air-conditioning on using off-peak power to cool the home before you get home.”

But while delivering the latest in home automation and energy technology, The Gentry is maintaining its ties to the past via its heritage façade – something that Berry is proud of.

Architectural firm SJB were hired to design the contemporary conversion of the exterior, and Lawless & Meyerson for the interiors.

SJB celebrated the building’s light industrial history by preserving the exterior façade. While on the inside, Lawless & Meyerson have designed industrial style kitchens with integrated appliance packages, stone benchtops, stainless steel splashbacks and large format concrete tiles also play on its heritage past.

“I will be able to drive past The Gentry in 10 years and those heritage elements will still be there,” Berry predicts. “To be able to seamlessly mesh old and new and to build a beautiful home that will last the ages is a fantastic achievement.”

The single lock-up garage for each residence include room for bikes and an extensive wine cellar.
The garage for each residence includes room for bikes and an extensive wine cellar.

SJB associate and architect Sevda Cetin agrees, and adds while embracing technology is key to future-proofing a building with a heritage past, there’s also an eagerness to make such a space greener.

“There’s definitely a current movement toward making our urban spaces a lot greener. It’s been proven that it gives people a quality of life, which is definitely looking toward the future,” Cetin says.

“A lot of the architectural implications are quite subtle. We used sandblasted glazing extensively throughout the project, which is undulating in form and allows us to achieve texture. The sandblasted treatment allows for privacy, while still allowing light to come into the interiors.”

Cetin says the company has also used grass-reinforced concrete [GRC] planters; a great technological improvement as they negate the need for waterproofing, which makes landscaping more financially attractive.

She also believes having everything at the touch of a button is very attractive to potential buyers.

“We embrace technology, but not at the detriment of the architecture. Everything that has been done to The Gentry enhances the liveability. We are so technologically bound to our iPads and iPhones that to have that integrated into your home is definitely a plus for any buyer.”

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