THE ISSUE WITH GROWTH

There is an increasing amount of pressure on Australian cities in increase density, as urban sprawl is extending beyond its reasonable limits of its inability to provide access to jobs and amenities. In fact, as of September 2016 there were only 340,000 housing lots left in Sydney, or half as many as will be required for the expected population in 2036. The answer that has been reached in order to tackle this issue is higher density living and suitable commercial spaces in satellite cities such as Parramatta.
 
Of course, these new developments must still be mindful of spatial efficiency. Space-saving design, such as shared spaces offering more generous amenities or open plan living play a large role in prioritising the necessities for any apartment living. However, by no means are these solutions restricted to how things can be rearranged on a plan, with accepted furniture design and arrangements being challenged as well, such as is being done through folding wall beds and similar.
 
These solutions also need not be new, with space-saving measures such as cavity sliding doors having existed for thousands of years, easily capable of replacing their more ubiquitous hinged alternative.

THE SPATIAL BENEFITS OF CAVITY SLIDING DOORS

Practically speaking, cavity sliding doors make significantly more sense than their hinged counterparts wherever space is of concern. Hinged doors require space for both the door itself as well as the entire path of its rotation, while cavity sliding doors require “only a fraction of the space,” travelling either parallel to or simply into the wall itself, as with a cavity slider. In fact, cavity sliders can save more than 85 per cent of floor space when compared to hinged doors – a substantial figure that can be easily translated to a spatial configuration that maximises the value of a space. When taking into account the number of replaceable doors in a large-scale residential or commercial project, this figure is especially significant.

Aside from clearing up additional space to be used as anything other than the oversized footprint of a hinged door, cavity sliding doors can also improve accessibility and democratic access to spaces. Not only is there minimised risk of opening a door into someone, or being unable to open it at all due to something being in the way, but cavity sliders are also easier for disabled users and those with reduced mobility to operate and navigate than swinging alternatives.
 
In domestic environments, cavity sliding doors can be applied in numerous different applications across the entire house, including bedrooms, bathrooms, laundry and walk in wardrobes, as well as between living spaces and even indoor and outdoor settings. With so many potential applications, “sliding hardware systems eliminate visual clutter while freeing up valuable space,” while also offering a more contemporary aesthetic for both residential and commercial settings.
 
The advantages of cavity sliding doors are not limited to commercial and residential applications either, with improved accessibility and decreased safety hazards also being valuable considerations within the healthcare sector. The ability to eliminate “dead” space is also incredibly useful within hospitality, such as in hotels, where tight spatial constraints are already standard practice, but where hinged doors are still seen as the accepted solution to the separation of rooms.
 
Using the same technology, sliding, folding and stacking walls can also be used to partition spaces. Partitioned rooms can be opened up to receive additional natural light or ventilation, or closed off to limit the energy needed to heat or cool a space. Power bills can be reduced by cordoning off living from sleeping areas, whilst still offering the potential for open plan living whenever otherwise suitable. In these instances, cavity sliding doors and walls can blur the boundaries between one space and the next, or even between inside and out.
 
The dynamic spatial opportunities offered by cavity sliding doors and their own design potential opens up new avenues for architects and designers. Cavity sliding doors “can be larger, taller, wider and heavier – than hinged doors” and can effectively remove entire walls when deployed, rather than simply provide an opening. Doing so embodies greater potential to make a statement, whether it is formal or informal in nature.

THE MAKE-UP OF CAVITY SLIDING DOORS


Whether top or bottom hung, cavity sliding doors require a number of separate elements that will allow them to function as intended. The primary elements include the wall or door panels, the trolley that allows for movement and the tracks along which they slide, as well as a number of secondary elements such as doorstops embedded into the track and surface guides.

In this day and age, cavity sliding door panels can be made of all manner of materials, including timber, glass, metal or otherwise, including any combination of materials. However, in large-scale applications such as in commercial or multi-residential environments, the materials chosen can have consequences for the functionality of sliding door systems.

This is applicable to cavity sliding door tracks too, which are equally as important for creating smooth movement as the trolley itself. Historically, sliding door systems would have been made from timber for its ease of construction. However, as technology has improved, alternative materials such as aluminium have made their name as long-lasting, efficient alternatives. In large-scale applications timber cavity sliders with steel tracks can come with a number of risks, namely associated with maintenance, longevity and material properties.
 
Timber cavity sliders are more likely to wear out over a shorter period of time and demand more upkeep. Furthermore, the characteristics of timber framed sliding door systems are inherently tied to their material properties. Timber is prone to warping in humid environments, and often the impacts of excessive exposure to moisture are only evident long after the damage has been done. This makes them additionally less suitable for exterior applications, where shifting temperatures are likely to have further impact on the effectiveness of the sliding system.
 
On the other hand, aluminium is significantly more appropriate for commercial applications and is typically the material from which commercial-grade sliding door systems are made. With aluminium systems, users do not need to worry about the downsides associated with timber such as warping and similar. Higher quality materials also reduce the amount of maintenance required, while increasing longevity and ensuring smoother, quieter operation over their timber counterparts. The dimensions and shape of aluminium sliding systems can be customised without worrying about weight or compromised quality, and standard options now exist that eliminate the potential for derailment of the door panels.