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
Banks, retailers, bars and restaurants looking to add flexibility at the front of their premises should consider the very latest fully automatic, glass moveable walls.
That’s the advice of Mike Fine, director of Style Partitions for the midlands, who explains that the latest systems are not only highly secure but can be opened and closed with the push of a button.
“With advancements in technology, and by using strengthened glass, glazed operable wall systems are being used more widely than ever before,” said Mike, “a great example being Style’s recent installation for a branch of Santander where a DORMA Varitrans system provided a safe out-of-hours ATM lobby.
“When open it increases the bank’s floor space during the day, welcoming customers inside to access the ATM, whilst at night they can enjoy the use of an attractive glass lobby to complete their banking transactions in safety.”
According to Mike, more banks, retailers, bars and restaurants should look at fully automatic, glazed moveable wall systems as they really enhance the consumer experience.
“One of the reasons many outlets have not opted for flexible frontage has been due to the hassle of opening and closing them, as well as security concerns,” said Mike.
“However, now that they can be activated by simply pushing a button, and are very secure, their popularity will soar in the coming years.
“Our advice is to look very seriously at these systems if you are specifying any premises where the ‘frontage appeal’ is critical for the customer, as the advantages are widespread.”
For more information, please contact your nearest regional Style office
Architects are being advised to book early for Style’s CPD seminars, with dates already going fast after the summer.
The RIBA approved CPD seminars are on the topics of “Multi-functional space” and “Fully automated vertically rising acoustic partition systems”. With flexible space becoming commonplace in most buildings, it’s essential for architects to be familiar with all the latest innovations.
“Our CPD seminars have always been very well received,” said Julian Sargent, Style’s group managing director.
“Designed to inspire and educate architects about totally new concepts in space division, they cover a wide range of areas during a 35-40 minute session, usually hosted at the architect's premises over a buffet lunch.”
During Style’s CPD seminar, architects learn about moveable wall design, features and benefits, structure, building interface, BIM, acoustic performance and criteria, finishes, health & safety, environmental issues, and maintenance.
“It really is an all-encompassing session,” added Julian, “and the feedback is always excellent.
“There are some incredible moveable wall systems available nowadays, and fully automatic solutions are really gathering pace, which is why it’s important to be aware of the latest market advances.
“Building information modeling (BIM), sustainability and how different market sectors use flexible space are also very topical.”
To book your CPD, please contact your nearest regional Style office