Open plan offices make better use of available space, helping to reduce overheads and, therefore, contributing to greater profits (or lower losses) but there is often a need for a closed off area for conferences or private meetings. The latest development in this area is a virtual wall of frameless glass doors that can stretch up to eight metres wide yet, when fully open, occupy a tiny footprint against a wall.
The doors are made of tempered glass and slide along guides in the ceiling and floor until they reach a side wall, where they pivot ninety degrees to stack neatly against the wall. The glass has a very slim profile therefore a stack of eight or so doors is barely more than a hand span.
The doors may spend many hours stacked out of the way and can be slid back into place in a minute. The first door is turned ninety degrees to slide along the guides to position, followed by each of the other doors until the final one is in place. There is a main door that opens in the traditional way so that the room can be entered and exited in the usual manner by staff, executives and guests.
The frameless glass stacking door system described should not be confused with a purely sliding doors system or a glass wall with a pair of opening doors which do not enable maximum access between areas. The slide-pivot-stack glass door system is the only one of these that facilitates a full open plan office environment.
Frameless glass folding partition are becoming popular in hotels and large restaurant areas to divide areas for private functions. For additional privacy, there are tinted glass options.
Smaller restaurants are having the doors installed as their property frontage to extend their dining areas on better weather days. Better than bi-folding doors in terms of narrow profile when fully open and stacked, the slide-pivot-stack method is far superior when open part way. This is because the individual doors are either stacked away from the main access or they are in place along the guide line to form a window-wall whereas bifolding doors fold together as they slide, leaving a zig-zag protrusion along the remaining guides, wherever the doors have folded.
Developed from the ‘glass curtains’ concept popular in Europe, frameless glass doors are now available to order, made to measure in England, with installation included in the quoted price.
In addition to the commercial applications, the frameless glass room dividers are suitable for homes and a double-glazed frameless glass patio door version was launched in Spring 2010 to comply with building regulations for domestic dwellings. The double-glazed doors are frameless but have a narrow opaque gasket at the sides of the glass panels to seal the cavity between the panes of glass.