The ability to detach dividing walls from fixed structural frameworks has been one of the most notable contributions of modern architecture. The moment came when Le Corbusier's conceived the Dom-ino system, in 1914, and was brought to life in the Villa Savoye, where the structural lattice of pillars contrasted with an independent and even organic distribution of the interior partitions. The so-called open plan has been used and reinvented by architects since then for multiple scales and programs, with a flexibility that allows for the creation of large spaces with or without partitions. But one important nuisance that plagues the open plan it that is often difficult to create closed spaces when necessary, which can improve acoustic qualities and the possibility of natural light. Operable partitions serve this purpose through various mechanisms, such as sliding, folding, or wheeled panels, but they do not always facilitate the necessary conditions. Directly addressing these issues, Skyfold has developed the solution: operable walls that fold vertically and remain hidden when retracted.
Flexibility and versatility are essential qualities for contemporary spaces. Through careful design, it is possible for the same room to host a large event or several small meetings. A single office can host a conference or configure itself to create multiple individual focus spaces. However, movable panels and partitions often end up being very inefficient in relation to sound quality, they block natural light, or they end up becoming an unpleasant addition to the program idealized for the space.
Skyfold's products have the advantage of being stored in the ceilings. When they are not in use, the panels in the bottom row become part of the appearance of the ceiling without clumsily taking up space or marking a visible difference. In addition, the system does not require rails on the floor or walls to control movement. In this case, although the operable partitions have a mainly practical function in a space, they can also be used as design pieces that complement and even enhance the interior design. In other words, the partitions can improve the space, with pleasant textures and colors, as screens for projections, or for writing on as a whiteboard. The easy-to-use self-retracting system and the vertical movement of the wall allow rooms to be quickly divided or expanded through electronic control.
Acoustics are worth mentioning. When in the down position, the partitions become double rigid walls with air chambers, thus becoming acoustic barriers between subdivided spaces. They are also made with absorbent materials, which reduces sound pressure levels and reverberation time. When the space demarcated by the vertical wall does not have access close to any natural light source, it is possible to select Skyfold’s Mirage Series, an acoustic glass system that allows natural light to permeate. An acoustic glass system allows natural light to permeate subdivided spaces and guarantees access to uninterrupted views.
In a world where demands change so quickly and new technologies are constantly incorporated, it is the role of the architect to design spaces that can adequately receive new functions and adapt to the needs of its occupants. If this can be done in an aesthetically pleasing way and meet safety and comfort standards, even better. If the modern open plan has brought the desired freedom of big plans, technology can help create havens of focused environments and increase the versatility and possibility of interior spaces. Technologies, such as Skyfold systems, can contribute to this.
Learn more about Skyfold's operable walls at this link.