Working with IT installers Abzorb Networks, Comelit has supplied its Ikall digital entrance panels and hands-free resident audio units to the Old Fire Station in Birmingham, a Grade II-listed former fire command base in the centre of the city. The building is now a £35 million high-end student accommodation complex housing 463 students in a variety of apartments, studios and clusters.
Visitors call residents using Comelit’s Ikall panels, which have been installed at entrance points around the building. The panels allow bespoke configuration and can have options such as numerical pushbuttons, a name directory, built-in access control and proximity readers. Video communication is via a wide-angle 1/4” miniature colour camera, although for this project, the installer opted for audio-only for their current design.
Modular additions as site evolves improve total cost of ownership (TCO)
Avoiding non-essential functions generates cost benefits that are passed on to the project developer and add to the life of the system since more components can be added to the Ikall panel as the site develops.
When visitors call the panels, the students speak to them using Comelit’s Easycom audio units that feature a conversation privacy option, audio active indicator LED and volume adjustment for call tone and loudspeaker.
Remote configuration by installer
Abzorb Networks used Comelit’s ViP Manager software. The future-proof nature of such an installation means that upgrades involving SIP interfaces, CPS and home automation products (both Comelit’s and those of third parties) would all be possible for this project. Abzorb were able to carry out precise configuration while connected to the building’s Wi-Fi access points and future configuration changes will be achievable via the VIP software with no need to access the student apartments.
Nick Stevens, Regional Business Development Manager North East at Comelit, said: “The structured cabling for this project was intricate due to the building’s Grade II-listed status, so the client wanted a future-proofed IP solution to integrate with the other services they were installing, such as CCTV, broadband and TV signal distribution.”
Best Practice and compliance
Stevens continued: “Duty of care considerations mean the Old Fire Station is more of an intercom than a door entry solution. Best practice for the student accommodation sector requires that there should be no door unlocking facility from the Easycom unit (or similar) in the apartment. After audio contact with their visitor, the resident is required to go to the relevant entrance area and escort their guest into the building with the additional protection of CCTV coverage. Comelit understands these requirements and is winning business in the education sector as a result.”
Eighty-year-old building with Art Deco interior
The former Old Fire Station was built in 1935 and it has been decided to retain the 40-foot firemen’s pole, which is the longest in Europe. The property is at Lancaster Circus, opposite Aston University's main campus. It is also convenient for the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University and the Birmingham School of Acting. The developers, Watkin Jones Group, have used every viable inch of the existing building, including the drill tower, engine bays and a panelled library, which will retain its original function.
Comelit enjoy great success in the student accommodation market; other recent installations in this sector include The Edge, a £15 million development in Leeds that is providing luxury boutique hotel- style accommodation to the city’s university students.