Maximum Flexibility: The Possibilities of Vertically Folding Operable Walls
As a response to this rapidly changing world, flexibility has become a top priority in contemporary interior design. That explains, for example, the growing demand for spacious and multifunctional spaces over rigid, enclosed floor plans – as is the case of the open kitchen trend. This shift in spatial needs suggests that designing for the present and the future is about creating spaces that can easily adapt to many uses: one day, a room may be destined for a big event; another day, it may be needed for smaller, more private environments. Therefore, materials, products and other interior design elements must respond accordingly, integrating technology and innovation to create flexible, yet functional spaces.
Flexibility does not necessarily imply generating large, open and undefined interiors, as there is a risk of compromising acoustics or losing privacy. It is rather about providing the freedom to design and redefine spaces quickly and easily without forgetting practicality and aesthetics. In that sense, Skyfold’s acoustic operable walls become an ideal alternative. The vertically-folding system can be used in any location that requires room space division and stores in the ceiling when not in use. Providing superior acoustic performance (up to STC 60), the fully functional wall allows for rooms to be rapidly and efficiently divided or expanded. Below, we explore its qualities and multiple architectural applications, both as a soundproofing barrier and a design feature.
Why integrate operable walls into a space?
Of course, the main reason to incorporate a retractable wall is because, contrary to traditional horizontal walls, it saves valuable floor space. Not only because it hides away seamlessly into any type of ceiling, but also because it doesn’t require space for storage pockets, wall or floor tracks. The lightweight Skyfold system takes less steel structure to support than a traditional wall and is by a turnkey or push-button operation, meaning it is fully automatic, easy to use and doesn’t need manual labor. It also includes automated end seals to further ensure privacy and acoustic comfort, as well as optional LED lights along the bottom row of panels.
Beyond any functional benefits, these operable walls can also enhance a room’s aesthetics. Skyfold offers a broad range of finish options, such as fabric, vinyl, wood veneer, marker board, mural, glass and plastic laminate. It is possible to choose one color or finish for the entire surface to blend in with the surrounding walls, or to combine these in diverse configurations for a bolder design statement. And because the solution can be designed for specialized environments –including stepped and sloped spaces, intersecting walls and between columns– it is suitable for multiple uses and applications, from hospitality to sports facilities. Read on to explore all of these possibilities through a selection of projects that use a variety of Skyfold products.
Hospitality: Rosewood Hotel, Hong Kong
In this case, the Skyfold Classic was used to merge two ballrooms, increasing floor area while maximizing flexibility and meeting acoustic requirements. With its vertical motion, the system also acts as a showpiece that allows clients and event planners to create a sense of mystery when the other side of the room appears. And when closed, the wall’s wood veneer finish blends with the entire room to give the impression that it is a permanent wall.
Education: South Lake Tahoe High School, California
Under the idea that any learning experience must be dynamic, flexible and adapt to different needs, this high school implemented Skyfold’s Mirage model. The glass wall separates the Auto Tech Classroom from a ‘hands on’ training area, making the room feel airy and connected. This preserves views and the passage of light, but also creates a space private enough for meetings, collaboration and autonomous work.
Healthcare: University of California San Francisco MSB Anatomy Lab, San Francisco
When it comes to healthcare, it is important to prioritize acoustics, easy maintenance, quick and easy space division for patients. In that sense, the Skyfold Classic was an ideal solution for this Anatomy Lab because of its proven acoustic performance, simple use and ability to accommodate services that are vital for healthcare-related uses.
This multifunctional meeting space integrates the Skyfold Zenith, a fully automatic solution that combines the vertical and acoustical properties found in the Classic series with a straight down deployment, similar to the Zenith Premium. Finished in a Kvadrat fabric, the partitioning system allows for both an enclosed and open space to suit a variety of collaborative occasions. In addition, the wall’s thin path of travel implies that there is no disruption to the room layout when the wall moves into place.
Convention Center: Walter E. Washington Convention Center, Washington
Using the Skyfold Classic retractable wall, the Convention Center was able to capture 48,000 square feet of new reconfigurable meeting space within the original building’s footprint. This allowed the project to reinvent itself by improving its ability to host larger simultaneous or overlapping events, essentially transforming unrentable space into useful rentable space.
For this project, the Skyfold Classic was an integral component in creating a truly flexible, multi-use Main Event Gym and Auxiliary Gym. Hidden seamlessly during events but open during gym class, the partition becomes an eye-catching element that complements the overall design of this highly public and functional space.
To learn more about vertically folding operable walls that unite acoustics, design and performance, visit Skyfold’s website or explore our product catalog.