Designing with glass has so many benefits – including letting light into a space, which improves workplace productivity, happiness and reduces stress. Interior glass is more durable and requires less maintenance than drywall….and of course, can be more easily moved. But what about privacy? Surprisingly, sliding glass wall partitions can deliver privacy when needed and openness when not.
So how do offices get the flexibility and beneficial exposure to light while still maintaining the ability to have privacy on demand?
Sliding glass wall partitions for visual privacy
Over the past decade, the average size of offices has shrunk by 30%. That trend coincides with the growing popularity of interior glass for office design to reduce space but give the appearance of openness, as well as be moveable. This allows offices to modify space needs on the fly, changing room configurations using sliding glass walls and doors.
As design materials evolve, workplace privacy evolves too. With the expanding use of interior glass to open up workspaces to foster collaboration and teamwork, designers have had to be prepared to deliver on privacy too. Companies must be able to provide sanctuary space so that employees don’t feel like they are in a “fishbowl” with their every move scrutinized by the bosses’ eyes.
Klein offers several approaches when using glass wall partitions for providing privacy.
Increasing the permanent opacity of the glass
This approach can be used by applying a decorative, colored or glazing (sometimes referred to as frosting) approach to all or a portion of a glass wall. The application provides partial opacity, allowing some light to shine through. The application is permanent, with placement often occurring such that employees working within the space can be blocked from view by people standing outside the space.
Double glazing glass with blinds
To have the ability to incorporate blinds that can be shut as needed, some clients opt for two pieces of glass for their wall panels. This allows blinds to be sandwiched in between and operated using a remote control.
Active smart glass
Technology solutions for managing privacy with glass walls has changed in recent years. We now have what’s termed “active” smart glass where opacity can be controlled by a user with the flip of an electric switch. This approach uses an electric current to change the glass from clear to semi-opaque to completely opaque in appearance. Privacy is in the hands of the user, and when it is no longer needed, the walls can return to transparent.
Passive smart glass
Another option in the smart glass category is glass that changes opacity in response to light or heat. No electric switch is involved; rather, the glass automatically converts in opacity. This is similar to the technology used in the eyeglass industry for what’s often referred to as “transition lenses”.
Mixed design elements
Finally, having a mix of glass, sheetrock and wood to frame a space is another way to create privacy without sacrificing the benefits of light. In some spaces, two of the four walls may be sheetrock, creating a completely opaque barrier, while the other two walls are glass to maintain openness. As well, mixing wooden sliding panels into the design allows the users to maintain some privacy and break up the expanse of glass. This opens possibilities to create a very different office look and feel, incorporating elegant wood panels that are eco-friendly and natural.
Modern office design has progressed toward open spaces that encourage productivity and collaboration – but maintaining a level of privacy is a must. With Klein’s glass privacy solutions, designers can create a happy medium between transparency and opacity without compromising all the benefits of light provided by glass wall partitions.
Take a look at this short video on the Smart Glass technology to get a sense for the capabilities.
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