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Building Products December 2017

CEILINGS, PARTITIONS AND BOARDS A DIVIDED FUTURE Julian Sargent, group managing director for Style, highlights a ‘dramatic shift’ that is occurring in the partitioning walls market and considers what impact this will have on the specification process. Until quite recently, the market for DECEMBER 2017 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 57 partitioning walls was relatively simple. Panels would manually slide, one at a time, along tracks in the ceiling and floor, to form a temporary wall between two areas. When not in use, they would be stacked to one side, protruding into the open space. The weight of the panels would be directly dependant on the level of acoustic privacy required. That has all changed and the modern and sophisticated systems of today offer diverse opportunities to deliver efficient space flexibility to almost any room. But these hi-tech operable walls present far reaching implications with regards to planning and design, the imperative use of building information modelling (BIM), not to mention health and safety considerations in the long term. Perhaps the most significant development in the market is the explosive demand for automatic partitioning walls. This is not really surprising, as any technology that purports to make life easier has always been enthusiastically embraced. When did you last sit in a car with wind up windows, or push open the door to enter a smart hotel? Automation concealed storage areas when not in use. is directly linked to the idea of less effort. Intelligent use of modern materials, not to However, in this instance, it is not just about mention advanced understanding of sound paths, simplifying life. Electronic seals on both fully has led to the development of ever more automatic and semi-automatic partitioning walls lightweight panels that still deliver an exceptional will always expand to exactly the optimum acoustic barrier. pressure to maximise the acoustic integrity of the Clearly there’s a lot to consider if specifying a system. There is no risk of the seals being manually modern operable wall and this impacts the very wound too tight and causing damage, or not being earliest stages of a project. Involving a partitioning extended sufficiently and allowing sound leakage. expert right at the beginning will allow a solution Similarly, with a fully automatic system, the panels to be created that can surpass expectations. themselves are not going to be bumped or We have found BIM to be an invaluable tool and scratched by someone rushing to get the wall in regularly make use of NBS authored objects from place. Finally, with space being an expensive the National BIM library. Being consistent with commodity, there is also a direct cost benefit and industry standards and with complete data that is having an automatic partitioning wall really does in the correct format, full collaboration and allow multiple events and meetings to run information exchange throughout a project is concurrently throughout the day. significantly simplified. This allows a design team And it is not just automation that has changed to work with other contractors to quickly assess the market for partitioning walls. A myriad of how different options impact on the overall creative tracking options can now be considered, development, encouraging experimentation with encouraging panels to spin and glide in multiple directions, before tucking cleverly away into Continued on page 58 >>>


Building Products December 2017
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