Movable walls

The idea of buildings with movable walls is not new. Reconfigurable spaces have been around in architecture for centuries.

But until now they have been considered a specialty item. The underlying technology is difficult to implement properly, and there are issues around temperature management, airflow, safety and security.

The advent of computers changed the conversation around reconfigurable architecture. Rather than needing to move walls around manually, the users of such spaces could, to some extent, “dial in” their preferences, and a building could then adjust room dimensions accordingly.

Now that many people can walk around in buildings even before they are even built — thanks to newly accessible consumer-level VR technology — I wonder whether we are on the brink of another evolution of reconfigurable architecture. After all, in VR it is quite easy to move walls around, and to get a sense of how that might be of benefit.

Widespread access to such capabilities may lead to thinking of physical interiors in a whole new way. Perhaps, when it becomes the norm to design one’s house in shared VR, movable walls will start to become the norm rather than the exception.

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