Functionality, good ventilation, comfortable lighting, and access to views are some of the important required characteristics that make for human comfort in inhabited or occupied space. Nonetheless, those elements are becoming harder to achieve withing smaller city dwellings and build. Architects and individuals, therefore, turn towards design solutions to create more agreeable and personalized settings.
An initial solution to upscale and widen spaces is to reduce the amount of standard solid partitions or walls and replace them with alternative means of spatial separation.
If applied properly, this easy and affordable step would optimize airflow and natural light propagation within any given area, while saving a little space in small-scale apartments or houses. It can also create visual dynamism and movement as it frames and highlights different functions within the same area. In fact, there are so many possible interpretations of non-solid space segmentation as seen in the projects below.
1 - Wall treatments
A first step to replacing full partitions is to have large openings or cutouts within the existing non-structural walls. It’s a good way to ensure visual continuity and framing at the same time. This move could also highlight certain areas that one might like to showcase in the project.
2 - Levels
A second follow-up solution would be to diversify ceiling or ground levels and heights. In fact, different functions could require different vertical dimensions that are more suited to them in terms of sound absorption or feel. The change in levels can be accomplished from above or below.
Lowered ceiling - In this case, a false ceiling suspended grid system or hanging panels could also be set up as a marker for different areas. They could also prove useful by housing mechanical or electrical machinery (HVAC, embedded lighting…).
Elevated ground - The level change could be made from the bottom-up just as well, creating a very clear separation between two functional spaces. This is common and in some counties traditional construction practice that allows many integrations such as under-tile heating, storage area below or just providing a lower ceiling height that is more acoustically sound.
3 - Material alternation
An additional manner of highlighting either the varying levels or simply alternating areas without having partitions is through material change. A layering of contrasting cladding or tiling in adjacent zones would constitute a practical and creative way of differentiating spaces. It is surely a decorative element that adds dynamism and movement to the project.
4 - Color coding
Delineating areas can be similarly made with the simple application of dissimilar, contrasting colors (including some materials). It’s an extremely interesting solution if cleverly and moderately used and is reversible if required.
5 - Furniture buffers
The ultimate easy partitioning solution in open spaces remains the use of furniture as a flexible dividing buffer between two areas. Whether it is a kitchen counter or a dining table, they could be utilized to informally distinguish between neighboring zones.
6 - Flexible lightweight partitions
Finally, if the required outcome is a more flexible space that can still offer an additional level of privacy at times, then movable lightweight panels or curtains can be used in the otherwise open spaces.