A review of CBS News by Lynn Winchester written on Thursday 15th of March 2007
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As kids, we all created forts. If you were really stylin’, yours was probably made of cardboard and included your mom’s best (or worst) bedsheets. Tony Alleyne, however, is no kid and his detailed living space takes “forts” to a whole new level.
North of London, on a private block in Hinckley, Leicestershire, UK, lies the most tricked out ‘Star Trek’-themed studio apartment in the world. Ring the doorbell, and you’ll be greeted by Patrick Stewart saying “Welcome to the 24th century.”
The touch of this one button will get Trekkies salivating, but we haven’t even touched the surface of the launching pad. With the looks of Picard and the skills of Data, Alleyne has taken his sci-fi passion to the next level—he lives inside it.
How does one go about transforming their entire living space into space-worthy? It takes some serious motivation. After his wife left in 1994, Alleyne needed a project to keep his hands and mind busy.
In late 1997, Alleyne set out to create his ultimate bachelor pad. Since the local Home Depot doesn’t have a sci-fi section, Alleyne had to handcraft everything himself. However, most of the materials used in the construction can be found at almost any home improvement store.
Nearly three years ago, Alleyne began work on the “Star Trek: Voyager” re-fit of the apartment. “I decided that I would apply a harder luxury interior,” he says. “I have always considered that of all the Starfleet ships, Voyager is, in terms of interior, the luxury liner of the galaxy.” Alleyne then added shades of grey and incorporated aluminum inlays as featured in and around the Voyager ship. “I also added some pretty cool LCARS [Library Computer Access and Retrieval System] and some new lighting effects.”
Currently, his home/Transporter room includes AEI Security Systems, Vos System voice-activated lighting, running light modules, AgiLight z-LED lighting, and a DeLonghi air conditioning system. While it may not seem like the ultimate electronic house, it’s actually a lot, considering the apartment is a mere 500 square feet. “The way the design features have been applied, it looks much bigger,” Alleyne says. For added effect, there are various cooling systems that, when activated, give the feel and sounds one might experience aboard a spaceship.
“Apart from the shower tray, I alone designed, built and applied the entire interior. I just do not like plumbing in any shape or form,” he says. “The plumber did a marvelous job by the way—thanks Rob.”
After years of blood, sweat and tears, Alleyne says there are various things he’d like to add, but his favorite piece is still the Transporter Control. “It was the first ‘Star Trek’ prop I built and it took almost two years to construct,” he says. “It’s quite a complex piece as it features a working fader control system that triggers an original Transporter sound effect.”
Naturally, Alleyne’s apartment has garnered attention—and even prompted him to start his own design business, 24th Century Design. However, it’s also brought in a ton of requests from people seeking a similar setup. While many installers might see an opportunity, Alleyne found that many of these potential clients were hoping for a freebie.
“I receive many requests for various science fiction applications including ‘Star Trek,’ ‘Dr. Who’ and ‘Star Wars’,” says Alleyne. “The strange thing is most of the inquiries come from people who, for reasons I have yet to understand, expect me to work free of charge. I wouldn’t dream of writing to a motor mechanic saying, ‘Can you tell me how to fix my car via email because I don’t want to pay you to do it’.”
While Alleyne’s “Star Trek” project didn’t drive him mad, it did drive him into bankruptcy. He emerged from bankruptcy earlier this year and now says he’d like to move on to a bigger place to play with. There he could add more voice activation into the mix.
“My motto has always been: Bliss is a room without wires,” he says. “I make a point of not showing plug sockets, cable or any evidence of how things function so complete voice activation would complement the current design.” Other future options include new lighting, wall paneling, a new ceiling design, some original contemporary artwork and, if space permits, sliding doors.
Alleyne suggests that anyone willing to undertake such a project should have a strong passion for sci-fi. No kidding—Alleyne actually parted with his own bed to perfect the Transporter area. However, it wasn’t entirely for aesthetic purposes. “A few years ago I suffered with sciatica and was advised by my GP [general practitioner] to sleep on the floor,” he says. “It cured the sciatica and gave me the opportunity to convert the bed area into the Transporter area—bed space is overrated.”
If you’re serious about getting your geek on, start saving. Alleyne expects to relist his “Star Trek: Voyager” apartment on eBay sometime in March for around $200,000.
For more information on Alleyne’s apartment, check out www.24thcid.com. The site includes virtual tours created by Yakub Llewelyn Ahmed at www.digitalcreation.biz.
Photos of Tony's Voyager apartment can be seen at this link:
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