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Flexible Open Space with Moveable Walls

The concept of the “open-plan” office – a workspace free of dividing walls – was conceived in Germany in the 1950’s. Shortly thereafter in the early 80’s the first flat moveable wall system was introduced but they had little if any acoustical qualities and were not aesthetically pleasing. In 1964 Herman Miller introduced the “Action Office” and coined the term “office systems” which consisted of desks, tables and cabinets initially enclosed behind 3′ high partitions which inevitably crept higher and higher as the need for some privacy became self-evident. Moveable walls were also developing in the 70’s in terms of acoustic quality – STC’s in the mid to high 40’s – and appearance. By the late 70’s and early 80’s the split was 70% “open” to 30% “enclosed” but with no economical or efficient way to convert if desired any “open space” to “enclosed space”.

From the 90’s to the present there are mixed opinions and reviews about the pros and cons of each system, open or enclosed or both and if both what ratio? In many minds the “open space” office has become synonymous with the spread of disease, ceaseless distractions, a lack of privacy and secrecy, high levels of noise, a decrease in productivity and general employee well-being. During this time span from the 90’s to the present the acoustic qualities of moveable walls continued to improve with STC’s as high as 55 available (any higher is essentially meaningless in terms of stopping the transfer of sound), aesthetics (virtually any partition can have any covering and any desired appearance) and accessories (acoustically rated pass doors, windows, writing surfaces etc.).

So instead of just a lot of “open space” combined with some “enclosed space” we suggest “FLEXIBLE SPACE” using Moderco Operable Partitions. This is what we propose.

#1. At the design stage of a combination “open/enclosed” concept determine in consultation with Moderco, what percentage of the “open space” may have the need “some day” to be converted to “enclosed” temporarily or even permanently. In other words “anticipate”. Reasons for additional “enclosed space” include the evolution in office equipment requiring the movement of “systems furniture”, promotions of individuals or the creation of new positions in the company, the need for “temporary” privacy to work on special projects etc.

#2. Determine locations on each floor the open space” areas that could be easily converted to “enclosed”. This would typically be one designated area, in a corner, in an area where associates are not working on essential tasks and their work duties could be interrupted, where a lot of complex office equipment is not located, where there is limited hard wiring etc.

#3. Design a series of “enclosed space” offices that could be set up with a series of Moderco moveable walls with the panels stored in hidden pockets in permanent walls or against permanent walls. Determine number and location of pass doors, writing surfaces etc.

#4. Install a “grid” of Moderco Moveable Wall track in the ceiling system that matches the desired “enclosed” set-up. Custom built acoustic partition system panels with covering chosen by the design team shall be stored on the tracks in the storage areas.

#5. When the need for “FLEXIBLE SPACE” is determined the walls would be moved into place by owner’s personnel. When no longer required the walls would be moved back to the storage area.

This is the office of the future. The best of both worlds. A hybrid office which incorporates a range of spaces and options. The possibilities are limited only by one’s imagination. The use of solid panels, acoustic glass systems or solid and glass, the fast creation in minutes) of private offices in an open plan layout, convert lunch rooms or foyers to private offices, create emergency meeting rooms etc.

Contact Moderco at 1800 363-3150 so we can assist in creating “FLEXIBLE SPACE”