Comelit gains full marks for school redevelopment project

Working in partnership with specialist home technology and automation installers, Pro Install AV, Comelit has supplied its door entry and access control solution to Baylis Old School, a Grade II-listed former school building from the 1960s that has undergone a £25 million transformation into 149 apartments and townhouses.

This central London project is in Lambeth and involves a mix of refurbishment, conversion and new-build. Award-winning developer, Henley Homes, was responsible for the overall construction, with design from Conran and Partners, the worldwide design and architectural practice headed by Sir Terence Conran.

Henley Homes opted for Comelit’s analogue two-wire Simplebus system. Visitors call individual apartments using one of Comelit’s 316 Touch entrance panels that recently won the Red Dot award for product design. The panel, which includes a 7-inch LCD display, also features an integrated RFID reader that can be activated by residents using proximity fobs.

The installer had precise requirements and created a bespoke solution by specifying a camera normally used on Comelit’s IKALL unit, but on this occasion housed in a vandal-resistant stainless steel panel. The layout at the Lambeth site allows only one main entrance point, but in all there are eleven blocks of apartments, which share common numbering sequences. The 316 Touch interface has the flexibility of allowing customisation; this avoids confusion between apartments with similar numbers, but keeps the keying process simple for the visitor.

The 316 touchscreen has visual indicators and voice messaging for hearing aid users and it also maximises ease of reading for the visually impaired. There are four different call modes: name search, code, alphabetic and button. Facilities managers are able to upload names via a USB port, making it easy to maintain and update the system.

Inside the apartments, residents use white Planux touch-sensitive colour monitors, which are full duplex hands-free units with a 3.5-inch on-screen display. It also benefits from back lighting and offers a privacy or doctor function button.

The Baylis Old School site covers 3.2 acres and Comelit’s true 2-wire Simplebus system allowed the installers to achieve communication with no signal loss over distances of more than 900 metres between entrance panel and apartment monitor. This simple cabling with just two un-polarised wires (carrying both power and data) in each stretch of the system was ideal for the former school layout, which involves extensive courtyards and multiple building risers. Pro Install AV benefited greatly from the speed of deployment, which minimised time on site for their engineers and disruption to other contractors.

After the school bell rang for the final time, Baylis Old School lay empty for 10 years. English Heritage took an interest in the buildings and recognised the merits of retaining much of the original structure to create a residential complex that would be a mix of refurbishment and conversion.

John Line, Business Development Manager at Comelit, said: “Comelit is earning a reputation for working creatively with architects and contributing to sustainable developments. Re-using these architecturally important school buildings rather than knocking them down is a significant green initiative. Our Simplebus system is particularly well-suited to retrofit projects as we can make use of existing cabling, significantly reducing the labour time and cost associated with running new cables.”

Henley Homes has created 149 new dwellings at Baylis Old School. These are a combination of market-priced and affordable social housing offered for shared ownership or affordable rent. Eligibility criteria include maximum income levels, with priority given to people living and working in Lambeth. The main contractor was Reis Construct Ltd, the conversion and new-build construction arm of Henley Homes.

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