The use of BIM (Building Information Modelling) is going to become increasingly important as demand soars for automated moveable wall systems.
That’s the expert opinion of Julian Sargent, group managing director of Style, the UK’s leading moveable partitioning walls specialists, who advises that the shift towards more complex operable wall systems is bringing the benefits of BIM to the forefront.
“The hi-tech partitioning wall systems of today offer diverse opportunities to deliver efficient space flexibility to almost any room,” said Julian. “But these sophisticated operable walls require considerably more input at the planning and design stages, making the use of BIM imperative.
“To give you an idea of the level of growth in automated wall systems, 10% of all of DORMA’s UK sales are now for their fully automatic ComfortDrive system, launched only two years ago.
“Sales of the phenomenal Skyfold partition, which descends from the ceiling at the press of a button, have also rocketed. It took Style 10 years to sell the first 100 units but in just three years since then we have installed more than 150 walls.
“With automatic systems that involve electrics and control boxes, there’s a lot more to consider in the specification process which is why we are finding BIM an invaluable tool and regularly make use of NBS authored objects from the National BIM library.
“This system allows our design team to work with other contractors to quickly assess how different options impact on the overall development, encouraging experimentation with various elements such as full-glass or fabric covered panels, or the parking arrangements for example.
“BIM tools can also be used to maximise acoustic performance, ensuring installation is precisely scheduled so that sound flanking, for example, can be minimised. If we come into the process too late, there is only so much remedial work the installation team can do to reduce sound leakage, but BIM modelling ensures we are on site at exactly the right time.”
Automatic operable walls are not just about simplifying life and many believe they are the epitome of best practice. For example, automatic electronic seals always expand to exactly the optimum pressure to maximise acoustic integrity. There is no risk of them being manually wound too tight and causing damage or of not being extended sufficiently and allowing sound leakage.
Similarly, with a fully automatic system, the panels themselves will not be bumped or scratched by someone rushing to get the wall in place. Finally, with space being an expensive commodity, there is a direct cost benefit too and having an automatic partitioning wall really does allow multiple events and meetings to run concurrently.
“Clearly there’s a lot to consider if specifying a modern operable wall and this impacts the very earliest stages of a project,” continues Julian. “Involving a partitioning expert right at the beginning allows an innovative solution to be created that can surpass expectations – and BIM is at the very heart of this process.”
Style Scotland, the regional arm of UK partitioning experts Style, celebrates ten years of phenomenal growth.
“Since our launch in September 2007, we have installed more than 1300 operable walls worth in excess of £10m,” confirms David Louden, director for Style Scotland from their offices in Tillicoultry.
“In the month of September, Style strengthened its order book securing business worth more than £700K. This was a record month for us and shows how far the business has travelled in the last decade.”
Working closely with support from the other Style offices in the South of England, the Midlands and the North, Style Scotland completed the geographical coverage of the UK.
By combining the integrated management systems, strength and consistency of a national business with all the benefits of a locally operated one, Style Scotland has been able to offer the market a comprehensive solution to the creation of flexible space.
Over the ten years Style Scotland has delivered moveable wall solutions to countless high-profile projects across the region. At the Hydro Arena in Glasgow for example, two large Skyfold vertical-rising partitions were installed on either side of the stage, along with ten Dorma Varitrans glazed walls within the hospitality suites, in a project worth £500K to the Scottish region.
Of similar value was the installation at the University of Strathclyde TIC Building which was the first tiered auditorium in the UK to be divided by a stepped-Skyfold automatic wall system.
More recently, Style Scotland worked with Glasgow City Council to sub-divide a school hall with a ceiling height of 7.5m, using DORMA Variflex panels on programmable steel track.
The future looks bright too, particularly with regards to fully automatic partitioning walls systems, which have shown a definite upsurge in demand over the last three years.
Style Partitions, the UK’s leading moveable walls specialist, has achieved an industry first by combining two electric operable walls to create fully automated flexible room space.
The incredibly innovative project at Vodafone’s offices in Manchester saw Style install an automatic DORMA Moveo Glazed ComfortDrive moveable wall adjacent to Skyfold, the fully automatic, vertically rising operable wall which is housed in the ceiling cavity.
At the push of a button, the walls open and close with ease, offering a phenomenal lab tested 50dB Rw acoustic integrity for the Moveo glass system, and 51dB Rw for the Skyfold in a stunning fabric finish.
“At Style, we share the same vision as our manufacturing partners, DORMA and Skyfold, that the future of flexible room space is through full automation,” said Julian Sargent, Style’s group managing director.
“We have been delivering automated solutions for many years, however we’re now seeing a significant increase in demand as architects, specifiers and contractors recognise how easy life is when their clients can change their room configuration at the push of a button.
“In the case of Vodafone, the Moveo Glass system moves into place to form a large room out of an open plan area, effectively creating a new corridor, then the Skyfold glides effortlessly from the ceiling to divide that room into two.”
Style worked with architects, CMI Workplace, and main contractor, Overbury, to deliver the fully automatic flexible room solution.
Style is celebrating its investment in apprenticeships after seeing one of its apprentices take up a full-time position three years after joining.
Scott McKenna first arrived at Style on an apprenticeship scheme in 2014, spending four days a week working at its southern offices, using the other day to study for an NVQ in Construction Contracting Operations and a BTEC in Construction in the Built Environment at City College Southampton.
His time with Style began in the estimating team, yet his aptitude for technology was spotted early on and, as a result, he was sent on a CAD training course with on-going in-house development and client exposure. Three years on, a full-time position became available as a CAD Technician and, due to Scott’s dedication to learning and focus on his studies, it was an easy decision for Style to offer him the opportunity.
“Seeing Scott develop, learn and work extremely hard under our apprenticeship scheme proves that this route into employment works very well for both the company and individual,” said group managing director, Julian Sargent.
“As the UK’s leading moveable partitioning wall specialist, Style is proud of its youth development policy, and we’re committed to bringing in an increasing number of young apprentices who wish to learn, develop and grow, of which Scott is a fine example.
“In our northern office, another very talented young member of the team has completed a two year apprenticeship and is now in year one of his HNC, and our midlands office also has two studying for their HNDs.”
Style works in close partnership with local colleges with support from the CITB (Construction Industry Training Board), developing many incredibly talented, hard-working and enthusiastic young people who are emerging from schools and colleges.
Style is advising architects and specifiers to consider carefully how CDM 2015 should influence their choice of moveable wall system.
According to David Louden, Style’s director for Scotland, CDM responsibilities, not cost, should be at the heart of the decision making process.
Not only do all parties have a responsibility to ensure that the construction phase of the project can be completed safely, but equally important is to make it possible to operate and maintain the building with the least amount of risk.
“The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations are the main set of regulations for managing health, safety and welfare on construction projects, and these regulations underpin all aspects of our business,” explains David.
“A good example of their importance is in a recent installation at Clyde campus in Glasgow, where the design brief was to sub divide a large multipurpose space. At a height of 7.5 metres and an acoustic rating of 57dB the panels would each weigh in excess of 700kg. Working with the architects at Glasgow City Council, Style selected a system manufactured by DORMA.
“The DORMA Variflex system is assembled on site making it safe to install from a manual handling perspective and it was to be supported by DORMA’s new programmable I-track system. This track with switches and curves allows panels to be easily moved into position without risk to the operator. (See video)
“Some moveable wall solutions use aluminium track with 90-degree corner units, and these corners present a point of impact if the system is used incorrectly. This point of impact at a height of 7.5 metres is not immediately obvious to the operator and if the damage was to go unseen can lead to structural failure with catastrophic consequences.
“We therefore installed DORMA’s curved I-track system which replaces the 90 degree with a gentle curve, enabling the kinetic energy from each panel to assist in changing the direction of the panel into and out of its parking location. No point of impact and no risk to the operator.
“In addition to the curved track the Variflex system was specified with semi-automatic seals to reduce the effort in relocating the wall and to speed up the process of space reconfiguration”.
Full details and photos of this project can be found on our case studies pages.
For more information, contact your nearest regional Style office
Gone are the days of manual moveable partitioning walls. At least that is the prediction of market-leader Style, exclusive UK partner for DORMA operable walls and the unique Skyfold range of vertically-rising partitions, who reports that end-users are demanding fully automatic systems in unprecedented numbers.
“In two years since its launch, sales of the DORMA ComfortDrive automatic wall have been phenomenal and already account for over 10% of our DORMA sales,” confirms Julian Sargent, Style’s group managing director.
“Similarly, sales of the incredible Skyfold partition, which descends from the ceiling at the touch of button, have recently gone through the roof. It took 10 years to sell the first 100 units. In just three years since then, we have installed more than 150 additional walls.”
We should not be surprised by this trend. After all people have always embraced technology that makes life easier. From automatic doors, to electric bikes and escalators - if it reduces the effort needed to complete a task, people want it.
Automatic operable walls don’t just make life easier though.
Space is expensive and there is a direct cost benefit in installing a fully automated system that allows multiple events and meetings to run concurrently throughout the day. By removing operator error, panels are much less likely to be damaged and the seals always expand to precisely the right pressure, ensuring excellent acoustic privacy between divided areas and maintaining the integrity of the system in the long term.
They also stop automatically if they detect an object n the way, re-trying once before waiting for the item to be removed.
As demonstrated at Bristol Life Sciences, automatic solutions are also perfect for dividing very tight space where it would be impossible to manually open or close a manual partitioning wall.
“Rather like wind up car windows, the idea of partitioning walls that are manually moved into place will one day seem archaic,” foresees Sargent. “The future is undoubtedly automatic.”
For more information, please contact your nearest regional Style office.
To see fully automatic moveable walls in action, why not request a visit to Style’s London showroom? See short video on the home page of the Style web site