Better technology, reliability and creative design are making moveable walls an increasingly viable option in housing projects, claims Neil O’Halleran from the Akurawall Group
Moveable walls come in many shapes and sizes and have typically been used in hospitals, schools and workplaces to engineer new spaces for work, rest or play. Yet many of these older wall mechanisms are often heavy, cumbersome systems with poor reliability, poor acoustics and a lack of thermal efficiency – an increasingly important issue given energy and heating prices.
Customer demands are changing too, with a growing expectation that moveable walls should not just be functional, but aesthetically enhance design too. The result is that new technology has radically changed the moveable wall market.
Unlike their older counterparts, modern moveable walls are quieter, lighter, more aesthetically pleasing to the eye, more energy efficient, and offer better levels of acoustic and thermal efficiency. They’re also simpler to operate – often at the touch of a button – and thinner folding systems and hinges mean they’re more compact and easier to hide at the side of a room. As a result, a moveable wall needn’t be a compromise in a modern environment – and can become a feature in its own right.
This improvement in technology has made it easier for housing developers to make use of moveable walls systems. This is particularly the case in places where space is at a premium – especially in south east of England, where house prices and land values continue to rocket. Developers are asking tough questions of their designers to make sure the space they do have is being used as efficiently as possible.
It’s for this reason some apartment designers are now looking at the option of moveable wall systems. Rather than designing a space that’s compromised in some way – such as a small kitchen, or shared living/dining room – the inclusion of moveable walls allows a tenant or homeowner to create more flexible spaces without eating into available square footage. In one scheme in central London for example, we provided a moveable wall system that split the living room up to create a second bedroom that doubles up as a home office.
That’s useful for people wanting to get more out of their existing spaces, but a moveable wall needn’t intrude on the visual appeal of a modern flat either. For example, walls carriages and tracks are little wider than three inches that can sit near flush to the ceiling. This helps keep the mechanism out of sight and nothing is visible at ground level, so carpet or flooring can still be laid without leaving any clue there’s a moveable wall installed.
The walls themselves are easy to install and the panels can either be partly powered (where the seals unlock electrically) or moved entirely by hand. In both cases, the walls split into a number of metre wide panels – generally between 85mm to 100mm – and can be rolled out of view. They can also be painted and personalised in a huge range of ways. In commercial environments, glazed glass walls are popular, but walls can just as easily be wallpapered, painted or galvanised to match the interior design of a flat or apartment.
For some time now, external patio doors have helped create an uninterrupted connection with outdoor spaces, but we’ve tended not to treat internal spaces in the same way. That’s changing, thanks to improved moveable wall technologies, and the potential is there to create interesting, adaptable interior spaces that unlock the potential in our homes just as they do in our working environments.
For more information on Akurawall Group visit www.akurawallgroup.com