31 May The Automated Home For Disabilities
David Holmes spent 9 months lying in a hospital bed dreaming up his perfect home after an on-set accident put a tragic end to his career as stuntman.
“When you are lying down for a year, you have a lot of time to think,” recalls Holmes. YouTube videos and websites dedicated to new technology became a daily source of inspiration that would come to fruition half a decade later with a multi-million pound home boasting a home automation system that would give him back the freedom and confidence to live on his own terms.
“I am more able that anyone else in this home,” says Holmes. “This home changed my life.” Aged 25, the very nature of Holmes’ everyday life changed forever when he broke his neck rehearsing a stunt as Daniel Radcliffe’s action double on the set of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. The accident left him disabled to the level of C7 tetraplegia, meaning he was paralysed from the torso down and in need of full-time care.
A debilitating five years followed, surrounded by two 24/7 carers in cramped bungalow that wasn’t fit to accommodate Holmes’ needs. His experience living in his old home inspired the mantra at the core of his newly built home, located in the county of Essex in the north-east of London: disability doesn’t need to be clinical. This is perhaps best epitomised with his lift – crafted in glass, its mirrored surfaces at roof level bring in natural light in to the home. It is less a spectacle, but effortlessly fits in with the rest of the home – a celebration of all things modern, from his extensive art collection to his sleek, minimalist décor. “Did I want a lift stuck in a corner, behind a cupboard that I’m ashamed of? No, I made it into an architectural feature in the centre of the house.” Now, Holmes only requires one carer to help him in and out of bed in the morning and night.
“I didn’t want the house to look like it was for a disabled person. I didn’t want to grab handles, so I designed it so it didn’t have any of that sort of stuff.” Instead Holmes is only reaching for his iPad to manage his home automation system every day – powered by the kind of Crestron system Holmes read about from his hospital bed. The system oversees everything from the indoor shading of his tall windows and TV to his security. Every aspect of the home is now automated, with automatic sliding doors installed throughout, and special access to his Adapted Mercedes-AMG car. Holmes notes that since the accident he has “ten times” the creativity he used to.
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