Sliding wall systems are a staple in traditional Japanese architecture, and modernist architects adopted this spatial device and implemented it in their designs quite early on, as seen in Gerrit Rietveld’s iconic Schröder House from 1924.
Much has changed since then, but sliding walls remain a practical means to temporarily divide space and make it suitable for other functions, and not just in homes. Especially in today’s open-plan offices, sliding wall systems can create a substantial advantage by dividing ad-hoc meeting rooms, concentration workplaces or lounge areas from the work floor.
The choice is wide, and with today’s modular, customisable systems, almost any space can be fitted with an additional sliding wall. ‘Slid’ by Klein Europe, for example, is a wooden, room-height, sliding wall system which is suspended from the ceiling, leaving the ground free of tracks. ‘Extendo’ sliding wall system by the same manufacturer is wholly glazed and also suspended from above, allowing openings of up to 5.1 metres.
‘Graphis’ is a similar system of sliding walls designed by Giuseppe Bavuso for Rimadesio. The glass here is available in 30 different colours and in both glossy and matt finishes. The same collaboration also produced ‘Siparium’ where the glass is more visibly framed by aluminium profiles, but is also available as swinging or folding walls.
And finally, Bruag’s ‘Bruag Perforation’ is a richly textured, perforated screen which can be used in a sliding wall system, but also act as a shading device or exterior barriers. In all cases, it creates an ambiguous, semi-permeable boundary which merely suggests what goes on the other side.