A truly unique submarine-themed home theatre in Christchurch

Article by Homes to Love

This home theatre set-up might just be the ultimate combination of smart technology and a homeowner’s unique vision

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Christchurch residents Wayne and Aimee don’t do things by halves and this out-of-this-world home theatre system is proof of that.

Wayne was looking to create a room that not only had a wow factor, but that tied in with the overall design of the house. It was the rock walls in others parts of the home that provided the inspiration for the eventual design – a submarine wreckage ‘submerged’ in three-dimensional faux rocks.

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He called upon Matrix Automation electrician and installer Barry Neil to bring the vision to life.

Wayne, an engineer who co-owns an aluminium joinery business, originally envisaged a big screen mounted in a faux rock wall. Looking to test his ideas, he got together with long-time friend and special effects artist Dean Johnstone – the owner of Dream It Limited and a former chief sign writer for Peter Jackson’s King Kong film. After a few beers with Dean, Wayne’s initial entertainment room idea took on a whole new direction, drawing inspiration from the faux rock – as a submarine wreck-themed theatre room on a deserted island. Barry was engaged to help with the electrical aspects of the design.

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The home theatre also doubles as an entertaining space, with a bar area and a host of audio visual effects. “For example the submarine periscope feature is actually a View Master toy for the kids – this means when they look into the periscope they see images of sea life to add to the experience,” says Barry.  You can also hear the sound of the ocean lapping against the walls.


The submarine theatre’s key features:

 – The nine metre by six meter home theatre sits around 20 people inside the hull of a decaying submarine. Not just for the kids, the submarine has a bar constructed of materials suggesting they were scavenged from an ocean beach.

-The space comes with dramatic effects that can be pre-programmed and controlled.

– Inside the submarine, Wayne and Aimee use a remote to activate simple pre-programmed commands that orchestrate approximately 60 switchings controlling DVD players, SKY TV, sound effects, the bar fridge, heating and ventilation. They can activate a sonar ‘ping’ and spotlights that illuminate the point of impact where rocks have penetrated the submarine’s main body.  Accompanying sounds of waves spilling through the wreck add realism to the pending doom of being caught in a stricken submarine.

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– A ‘break-glass’ fire switch plunges the room into total darkness and activates a smoke machine and emergency alarm, simulating a fire emergency. Hundreds of LED lights are programmed to change sequence every four minutes, adding flashes of surrealism to the whole experience.

– ease of use. “There’s no point in having first class home automation if you find it difficult to turn on, let alone use it! The best part of the PDL by Schneider Electric system is that Wayne is able to pick what he wants to control with shortcut keys. This means even though he can control a hundred things he might only have a dozen switches to worry about,” says Barry.

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– Three months to install

– The C-bus system is integrated into the main house, but networked separately. This means Wayne can flick a goodnight button upstairs to shut down all the unnecessary technology overnight.

For more on this technology, see PDL by Schneider Electric.

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