For decades, homeowners have liked open and airy spaces for their dwellings, with the sections of their homes all being connected. Called the open plan layout, the absence of walls often gives an illusion of larger space. But recently, walls have started becoming a fashionable addition to homes, with homeowners now wanting more privacy and quiet spaces. Architects achieve what’s called a broken-plan layout by using partitions and split levels. The broken-plan layout is a rising trend in 2016. If Australia is to follow the architectural trends of western countries, we’ll be seeing more architectural projects designed for broken-plan living.
So should your next project feature a broken-plan layout? It depends.
Broken-plan living encourages privacy and a slight bit of division among the people occupying the space.
If you have a family with adults who work from home or children who spend much time using their mobile devices in their bedrooms, the broken-plan layout is likely to work well for your home.
As for office spaces, a report by Gensler revealed that workspaces designed for collaboration can actually be counterproductive, as workers get distracted and lose focus more easily in such environments. So it is important to take into consideration the nature of the employees’ roles. If their jobs do not entail heavy collaboration, they are likely to prefer working in quiet spaces with as little distraction as possible. In that case, the broken plan layout would be ideal for the workplace.
When does a broken-plan layout NOT work?
There are a few reasons to favour an open plan layout for your next project.
The costs involved in constructing walls can add up to large expenses. Designs that feature walls, sliding partitions, or multiple levels use up more materials, require more hours of work, and consume more energy to build. An open plan layout is a more cost effective way to house your occupants, whether it is a family or a team of employees.
Space limitations are another factor to consider. If you have limited floor space, adding walls could make space feel cramped. Open plan layouts are ideal for small building spaces, and they allow you to use your floor space flexibly.
Additionally, collaboration is still a large part of the average employee’s workday. The same Gensler study that found how open plan workspaces could interfere with productivity also reported that employees spend at least 25% of their time collaborating in a common space. This means there still is a need for an open-plan office layout, especially for jobs that entail heavy collaboration.
Lastly, an open-plan layout can be more ergonomic for parties and gatherings, since it lets you move easier from one part of the space to another. If you have a family that still wants to host social functions every once in a while, an open-plan layout might be more ideal for your home.
At the end of the day, it’s about balance.
The successful execution of the open plan layout is all about interconnected space, not one big space. Architect Charlie Luxton elaborates, “texture is the keyword: steps, wide spaces, narrow spaces, different ceiling heights, different colours, different wall finishes.”
The Gensler study on workspaces further adds: “the best way to design a successful workplace was to provide the right balance between spaces which allow employees to focus, and spaces which allow them to collaborate with others – most importantly making sure that these spaces do not interfere with each other.”
Still wondering what kind of layout is best for your home? Talk to us for ideas. We can help.