Making Room by Moving Walls

How do you add extra space to your main party room? It's a job for the Great Wall!


Now you see it, now you don't -- A section of wall rises 7 feet on command from a touchpanel. Photo: Dawnne Gee

It doesn’t matter whether Tim Owen is hosting an intimate gathering of six of his closest friends or a bash for more than 100 people: There is more than enough room in his house. The spaciousness of the abode has nothing to do with square footage. What makes the place so roomy is an electronic system that removes an exterior wall from the house. With the wall out of the way, the outdoor patio becomes a natural extension of the great room, giving Tim’s guests plenty of room to mingle.

Tim conceived of the idea of a moveable wall while living in Chicago. “I noticed that restaurants were able to move walls out of the way for outdoor dining and thought that with a system like that, I’d be able to entertain on a larger scale.” So during the construction of his home, a 38-foot-wide motorized wall was designed. A jack screw on either side of the wall raises the structure seven feet into the air along a plastic guide track. Tim instructs the wall to elevate by entering a password and pressing a button on a Crestron touchpanel. When the party is over, Tim presses another button to bring the wall back into its normal position where glass double doors serve as the egress to the outdoors.
Of course, a slew of safety features were incorporated into the system. For example, Tim must keep his hand on the screen during the wall’s entire descent. “This ensures that the user is paying attention to the motion of the wall and any objects that may come into the path of the wall,” Tim explains. In addition, limit switches and an infrared beam cut power to the system if the wall moves beyond the track or if something falls into its path.

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