As Steven Hawking once said “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change” and this statement is no less relevant when it comes to intelligent interior design. We have long seen how clever partitioning and smart storage solutions can transform interiors, but now the engineering and design of movable walls is taking these ideas into new realms. With this revolutionary wave of design, the possibilities truly are endless.
Over the last couple of years, there's been an increasing interest in movable walls from all sides of the design industry. From Swedish manufacturer IKEA, which has been running trials with multiple families in Malmö, to the creation of a bespoke property on the Spanish coast by architects PKMN, it seems that adaptable apartments with movable walls may soon become commonplace. Re-imagined as floor-to-ceiling cabinets on wheels, these walls can transform the space available, complete with furniture and beds that fold away with ease until you need them again.
Research suggests that the average square footage of living space worldwide is decreasing. New apartments in Boston, for example, are on average 22% smaller than they were a decade ago. A standard fixed layout limits the potential of these smaller spaces, whereas flexible, moving walls are an easy way to generate instant space. Long familiar in open-plan office environments, it's only recently the movable wall technology has been considered for home reconfiguration.
How does it work?
A wall suspended less than an inch above the floor can run on tracks mounted to a stationary wall. Just like rolling bookshelves in libraries, this sliding action is effortless and light. Innovations in sliding sockets mean that it's also easier than ever to work around your existing power sources. Another solution is to run extension cables through the wall. Moving walls can create sub-rooms and privacy, as desired, and then convert back as easily as pulling a curtain.
The team at Rothelowman, an architectural firm in Australia, has designed convertible apartments featuring a movable wall, which are now under construction in Victoria. The roller wall is inspired by Japanese technology and allows an easy switch from studio to one-bedroom apartment. The feature wall also contains a pull-down bed, television, kitchen with fridge, wardrobes and even bedside tables. The design is targeted at inner-city living where space is always at a premium.
Larger homes can benefit too
In London, Geraghty Taylor architects are working at the other end of the scale. They develop large homes into two or even three smaller units, catering to inter-generational families, those whose need to accommodate au pairs or nannies, or simply those with young adults who are yet to leave home.
A 'floorplate' incorporates all the cables and services with underfloor heating, eliminating the need to cut into walls, floors or roofs. Movable walls then assist in breaking down rigid definition so that rooms are no longer designated for one purpose only. All layouts are informally flexible and ever changeable, making them thoroughly 'future-proof'.
If you’re looking to unlock the potential of a new property, Engel & Völkers is ideally placed to help you find the perfect place. Wherever you may be looking to buy, we have designated offices in 36 countries spanning four continents.