WHAT: THE SIMULATOR
US$1.68 MILLION

WHO: Chris Ballard co-founded Lex Design Agency with Renée Ballard in 2018. The company specialises in retail design and commercial interiors. Chris, who is also the design director, has an industrial and retail design background with more than 18 years’ experience and considers himself a natural problem-solver. He sees design problems as challenges and always comes up with a solution. Before launching his own company, he was based in Hong Kong and oversaw design teams in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore and Jakarta. Now based in Australia, Lex Design Agency has a growing global client base, and is known for balancing brilliant design with practical application.

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Many auto-enthusiasts are also fans of professional racing, and while most may dream of being the next Lewis Hamilton, this is unlikely to become a reality for the majority. However, there is a way to experience the thrill of racing at this level via The Simulator.

Designed by Chris Ballard of Lex Design Agency, The Simulator is the ultimate home-racing system room.

“The Simulator gets people to the track without having to leave home, and does it all in luxury and style.

It’s often said that the best way to watch a Formula One race is not at the track, but via the telecast. And every racing enthusiast knows after the race, you just want to jump in a car and get on the track, too. The Simulator gives auto-addicts the best of both worlds,” explains Ballard.

The Simulator has two modes, viewing and racing, both of which involve a 12-metre by 2-metre OLED digital screen, with a 4K cinema-quality screen. “This resolution replicates real life, and the screen covers one entire wall and curves partially around the adjacent walls,” says Ballard. 

Hidden ventilation brings in a cross breeze, soft enough to be silent, but powerful enough to tousle one’s hair. Additionally, through advanced lighting technology, the ceiling can be adjusted to reflect daylight or the night sky, complete with clouds, stars and the moon.

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Audiophiles will be glad to know that a hidden surround-sound system further heightens the race atmosphere. “The speakers automatically adjust their volume to balance engine noise with commentary, achieving a perfect harmony of race-day excitement and audio comfort.” 

The Simulator gets people to the track without having to leave home, and does it all in luxury and style. And every racing enthusiast knows after the race, you just want to jump in a car and get on the track, too
Chris Ballard

Other design details include a wraparound balcony that creates an exclusive viewing area for VIP guests. When in viewing mode, a podium in the centre of the room creates the viewing platform.

The flooring is covered in yacht-style timber decking that is smooth underfoot and tactile, while a large and luxurious lounge sits atop the podium, with built-in bar fridges installed to supply refreshments to guests.

“With exclusive access to the Formula One Liberty Media’s cameras, the viewer can choose between watching the broadcast or select their own camera’s angles, including favourite corners, drone footage or driver-cam,” says Ballard.

“From a bird’s-eye view, the viewing deck glides back to reveal the countersunk Formula One racing simulator underneath, complete with a manhole that houses a fully-equipped dual seat, Formula One race-car simulator,” Ballard says.

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Dual seats give users the opportunity to drive with friends, or take tuition. “Mounted on air-powered hydraulics, the simulator frame emerges through the floor. Formula One’s own race game F1 loads onto the screen and the driver-force feedback vibration settings in the cockpit become active,” Ballard explains.

Finally, as the racer adjusts the five-point harness, the rumble of the engine starts and they are taken from voyeur to driver.

BREAKDOWN OF COST

SCREEN: US$249,700

FURNISHINGS: US$178,360

LIGHTING: US$142,700

SIMULATOR: US$178,360

WEATHER APP HEATING/COOLING CONNECTIVITY: US$214,000

LIBERTY MEDIA CAMERA CONNECTIVITY: US$713,440

TOTAL: ABOUT US$1.68 MILLION

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