Incorporating Technology Into Design

This year, the Cityzen team has been bringing various projects to life through our multidisciplinary skillsets. In Brighton and Sussex, our work has included Listed and conservation area buildings, bringing them back into use or refurbishing them.

We’ve enjoyed providing coordinated design services for these projects, encompassing architecture, building regulations, construction detailing, coordinating client requirements to ensure the interiors will work, and developing an M&E scheme appropriate to the buildings featuring technology (gadgets) that would meet the end users’ needs.

When we think about buildings, especially older properties, we consider their usability and identify where the most value can be added in terms of the user experience. For example, helping clients use the facilities:

  • by simplifying the controls and adding systems that can be accessed via a phone or tablet (rather than a programmer in a cupboard that no one can use!)
  • by adding scene setting to lighting, enabling the user to change the mood of a space
  • through wayfinding (clear design of a space to lead the user through it logically, not just relying on signage), ensuring the spaces are logical and intuitive.
The Latest Developments In Technology For The Leisure Industry

Recently we attended the Hotel & Spa Tech Live and Restaurant & Bar Design shows, to find out what’s new and see how we could incorporate the latest technology and thinking into our commercial clients’ properties to improve the user experience (some of this technology can be applied to residential projects too).

Unsurprisingly, the phone in your pocket / tablet in a room was the biggest driver of customer interaction, allowing clients to book their stay, meal or treatment, then pre-order drinks, set up music and lighting, make payments and access other services.

All of this requires an infrastructure within the property, and part of our services engineering provision involves looking at the data network and coordinating with third-party specialists to ensure a strong backbone for the data services is established.

A fun highlight of the show was meeting Pepper, the robot from SoftBank. The level of AI was amazing. Lots of us are used to the likes of Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa, but Pepper moves, looks at you and interacts which is exciting and freaky at the same time!

We are working towards a future where the 24-hour concierge (for hotels or private residences) is an AI robot. However, we are still some way off 100% integration for more challenging properties. For example, one of our bespoke hotel projects in Brighton is a Listed building with five flights of small stairs and no front desk. Not even Pepper could cope with that! But AI at the front door and in the rooms might work.

Other parts of the show were dedicated to:

  • Integration of hotel and room technology.
    • For example the server in the background detects you are in the room and wakes up the smart TV or tablet to provide information about hotel and enquire if the guest would like any of the services available, e.g. room service. Similarly, the room would also know when it is vacant.
  • Materials for interior design, e.g. balustrades, finishes, etc.
    • We had some great talks with Rimex Metals about their beautiful sheet materials and how these can be used to create some very dramatic statement bars, facades and front entrances!
  • Back of house items.
    • Items such as systems infrastructure for staffing, who’s in the hotel, security, time management, and point of sale systems (all of which talk to each other).

Large spaces in hotels and bars tend to feature a lot of hard surfaces that adversely affect sound quality, so I was surprised to see just one stand selling noise reduction materials.

We believe that acoustic comfort can make or break a place, especially for anyone staying there for long periods. When it comes to hotels and bars, our biggest gripe is usually room acoustics / lack of sound insulation between rooms. So this was at the forefront of our minds when helping a client with their hotel project, and we specified acoustic treatment (sound insulation) to the rooms as part of the works.

If you are thinking about designing a hotel, bar, restaurant or leisure space, do call us on 01273 915010 or email us to see how we can help you and your professional team deliver efficient, user friendly and comfortable buildings that incorporate the latest technology.

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