ArchiExpo e-Magazine - #14 - Batimat: Building Smarter - ArchiExpo e-Magazine

Special Edition


Special Edition


Batimat: Building Smarter

The connected trend to smarter building is more present than ever. French construction trade fair Batimat, held every two years, offered conferences and workshops on the topic from November 2 to 6, 2015.

Enjoy information on connected objects within the home and cities, a critical viewpoint on connected bathrooms by architect Fabrice Knoll, information on the current development in Cameroon and one of the newest members of La Défense in Paris: The Majunga Tower by award-winning architect Jean-Paul Viguier.

As the trade fair is located in Paris, this issue recognizes the city’s culture in design and architecture. Our thoughts go to all the people who suffered from the recent events and our hopes to those who will make Paris shine again.#jesuisparis


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Hot Topic
Connecting smart homes with a smart environment produces a smart city

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Only a few years ago, the concept of a “smart city”—or one that uses a complex network of wireless devices to facilitate communication between buildings and infrastructure, residents, service providers and administrators—seemed like science fiction. Today fiction is rapidly becoming reality. A recent report from...

Hot Topic
It’s time for the industry to address the subject of connected bathrooms properly


I was having a conversation with an elderly person about wellness, spas, health and relaxation. The person had trouble walking and catching objects with her hands. The same night I watched my children stand on a stool and reach for the faucet to brush their teeth.

I question the necessity of intensive use of technology everywhere and the belief on the manufacturer’s part that as long as you go with the flow of technology, you will successfully launch a new product for the bathroom.

Like many architects and contractors, this first week in November I visited the Batimat-Idéobains exhibitions in Paris in search of “smart” products that would integrate technology with an acute sense of simplicity.

As an architect designing hotels for 20 years, I have long ago abandoned the belief that you will please the client by allowing them to completely monitor their bedroom and bathroom, and I believe that a hotel room or a private residence should be used intuitively, on the first visit and first sight. The frequent traveler only desires an immediate sense of rest and relief, having completed a long workday.

Rainbrain. Courtesy of Hansgrohe

Rainbrain. Courtesy of Hansgrohe

Smartphone Underwater?

However, I have come across interesting products in Idéobains. One of the most complete, qualitative systems is Hansgrohe’s Rain Brain, a digital screen that controls various shower jets, lights, music and temperature, with intelligible pictograms. It caters to (and remembers) the needs of five different users.

The Grohespa cabin, based on light, sound and color effects combined with steam, is trying to attract customers with glamour. Both products require precise installation planning and well-trained contractors. I doubt, though, that the Grohe app finds its place under the shower.

It’s unlikely you’ll play with your smartphone while in the shower. Since you bathe naked, your body alone should be able to manipulate all elements.

Singing in the Shower

Kaldewei’s Sound Wave uses the bathtub as a relaxing “boombox.” Receptors are positioned under your bathtub and connected via Bluetooth to your smart devices playlists. Jacob Delafon initiated the combined showerhead and speaker with Moxie. See the video below. Grohe has also introduced Aquatunes, a waterproof Bluetooth speaker.

The Saint-Gobain company Glassolutions’ Inspiration and Desire uses glass as a conductor for light and sound. Inspiration is a shower wall that comes in five different patterns, equipped with edge LED lighting, turning the bathroom into a mini spa. Combined with the Desire backlit mirrors, it brings harmony and options like music, cold and warm light variations and the integration of a TV screen.

The Toilet: Too Much at Once

Maïra is Geberit Aquaclean’s new washing toilet. The exterior looks less cumbersome than the previous products; the seat is heated, the showerjets are more sophisticated, the remote control offers a memorization setting to retain the preferences of various individuals. The comfort resides in the LED light underneath the toilet, diffusing a reassuring blue halo at night.

Duravit’s remote control for its Sensowash allows the user to select the jets.

But why are remote controls necessary for cleaning and flushing, especially when there’s a handle placed right behind you?

I care. Courtesy of AKW

I care by AKW

Jump in, the Water’s Perfect

AKW presented I-care, a water-heater placed in the shower, connected to your smartphone via Bluetooth. An audible and illuminated signal indicates when the water is at the right temperature. All controls are grouped together and easy to push.

Jacob Delafon/Kohler : DTV prompt is a small LCD screen that displays and controls water temperature more precisely than a thermostatic tap, thanks to a digital valve. It is combined with a diverter control of the water outlet for multiple showerheads, and permits a pause in the water flow. It has a warm-up feature and exists in four different finishes.

Shower or Bath, Shower or Bath

The super flat Kaldewei Scona drain is a real advantage for an installation requiring a low shower tray.

Axor’s new approach is Axor One, a control panel adjustable with your fingers, elbows, back of the hands, etc. One central element for the water temperature and the water supply is surrounded with tactile choices for the showerheads.

Hansgrohe Select and Showerselect systems are now template features of the company. Understandable pictograms allow you to select bath or shower and the type of showerhead. Semi-recessed in the wall, Showerselect hides the pipe connections, and supports amenities.

Neo faucet by Presto. Courtesy of Idéobain. The faucet can be directed by the electric buttons situated on top.

Neo faucet by Presto. Courtesy of Idéobain. The faucet can be directed by the electric buttons situated on top.

Who’s Connecting

For the time being, the reflection on connectivity in the bathroom is not leveled across all manufacturers. Apart from the template shower control, ideas pop here and there, without real insights on when and why it could be of interest to dialogue with the objects in the bathroom.

Depending on our age, size, physical condition, we use and organize the bathroom differently. It’s time for the bath industry to address this in terms of invisible care and ease of use, as well as finding ways to increase safety in the bathroom for the elderly and the young.

Hot Topic
Cameroon anticipates a 75% population growth in urban areas

Architecture professionals filled the space dedicated to sub-Saharan Africa at Batimat 2015. Among the opportunities presented, Cameroon delegates discussed their long-term development project Cameroon Vision 2035, launched in February 2009. Although development in Cameroon is only now kicking off, there’s much on the...

On November 3, 2015, our tour guide led us through the Paris business district La Défense and directed us toward Majunga Tower by award-winning architect...

Among the plethora of innovative awards at Batimat, Benoit Beach Villa and the regional offices of Auvergne structures were awarded the Mondial du...

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    “Nature is an endless source of inspiration for our design team,” Katia De Witte from Belgian company 2tec2 explained to ArchiExpo. The design team presented the Lustre collection, their fashionable high-tech floor coverings launched in June 2015, at the construction trade fair Batimat in Paris.

    The family run company, headed by Katia De Witte, her husband Phillippe Hanet and brother James De Witte, was born from Limited Edition Rugs, their company specializing in luxury residential carpets. Katia De Witte said that it was her brother James who first saw the potential in weaving rugs with vinyl yarns for flooring that was stronger and easier to maintain.

    They created 2tec2 in 2005 and began weaving carpets, entirely fabricated in Belgium, using modern wear and water resistant materials in the traditional technique they had mastered. The solidity of new materials combined with experienced craftsmanship generated beautiful flooring ideal for hotels, offices and public spaces. James De Witte feels the advantages of woven vinyl are obvious.

    It has depth and is richer than smooth vinyl. It is slip resistant due to its 3-D structure and has the look of a genuine woven rug.” – James De Witte

    We caught sight of the interchanging variations of gray at their stand at Batimat. One remarkable aspect of the Lustre collection is that the pattern and shade of the flooring changes depending on lighting and viewing angle. Katia De Witte clarified that this aspect, which they often try to reduce, is present in all textile structures, but when they created Lustre they asked, “What if we start accentuating this optical effect instead?”

    The result was a mineral texture evocative of quartz or obsidian glinting in sunlight. The four colors chosen for the collection are appropriately named obsidian black, morion brown, magnetite gray and chromite gray.

    James De Witte feels the changing texture of Lustre is important to see firsthand because it cannot be clearly illustrated in photos. ArchiExpo would agree.

    “I don’t want my work to replicate something, but I want it to be poetically correct,” artist Chyrum Lambert says to ArchiExpo. His Running Water / Red Tile...

    “Wood, a sustainable and natural substance, is the ideal material of this constructive revolution in progress,” said Eric Richard, architect at Kerosene, in...


    Architect Fabrice Knoll questions the “necessity of intensive use of technology” in our connected society, notably in the bathroom, in his opinion piece for...

    A block of resin clay, a handful of acrylic paint and a mind submerged in artistic thinking; Vincent Fecteau released another untitled puzzling sculpture in 2014. While a number of exhibitors at Batimat this year expressed their interest in using wood and cement, Fecteau builds with a variety of materials such as pinecones, rubber bands, strings, foam core, epoxy clay and papier-mâachée, among others.

    Fecteau has been exhibiting since 1995, including solo shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. His largest one-person show to date, You Have Did the Right Thing When You Put That Skylight In at Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland, ended in August.

    His work is currently displayed at the Ludwig Forum in Aachen, Germany, as part of a collection of artists representative of contemporary art from 1960 to today. The exhibition, Le Souffleur: Schürmann meets Ludwig, continues through January 31, 2016.

    Images: Courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery


    Camille Rustici

    Camille Rustici is journalist for ArchiExpo e-magazine.

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    Fabrice Knoll

    Fabrice Knoll is an architect, designer, photographer and writer.

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    Olga Sterkhova

    Olga Sterkhova  writes and translates in three languages: Russian, English and French.

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    Erin Tallman

    American artist Erin Tallman is a journalist for various online publications and is the Editor in Chief of ArchiExpo e-magazine. She has published three books, including her first novel.

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    Hilary Edesess

    Hilary Edesess is a freelance journalist based in Marseille, France. She blogs about culture, art and urban design.

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    Erin Gigl

    Erin Gigl is a freelance design and travel writer, editor and artist.

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    Daniel Allen

    Daniel Allen is a writer and a photographer. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including CNN, BBC, The Sunday Times, The Guardian, National Geographic Traveller, Discovery Channel.

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