Transforming Space with Kinetic Elements

The lobby of UC Berkeley’s Wurster Hall serves many uses. It is a hallway, a student workspace, and holds graduate student offices. As the building that houses the School for Environmental Design, where students study how to create functional, inspirational spaces and buildings, UC Berkeley wanted to introduce a structural element to divide the space.

Raveevarn Choksombatchai of Veev Design approached DEKA with a napkin sketch: a pony wall with faceted undulations lending an air of sophistication. Two wings cantilever off creating space for students to pin up their work for presentations. A customizable room divider that lends the lobby to a host of configurations for events of all types.

As with all of our projects, we explored the feasibility of different options before creating detailed drawings to inform the fabrication process.

Architectural draft
Architectural draft

All elements were prefabricated in our shop before we arrived to install.

To create a structurally stable pony wall, we started with a base of steel tube anchored in concrete.

A series of 4-by-4-inch posts form the frame. Kick-outs provide balance while the torsion boxes rigidize and act as a substrate for the panels to push in and click on.

To create the undulating design — and make sure all hardware was out of sight — we cut the faces of the torsion boxes in different angles and CNCed impressions at custom angles. We CNCed the spots to put the hardware on the torsion box, so the panels easily clicked into place.

To add warmth to the modern design, we wrapped panels with Knoll felt.

The accuracy of the CNC gave us the consistent gap between panels that we were looking for. The torsion boxes below the panels were painted black to give an impression of the panels floating in space.

The inset edges were capped with patinated steel.

When closed, the wall allows for circulation on both sides of the room. Both sides of the pony wall have matching undulating panels. Opening up the wings creates a presentation space where students can pin up their work for critiques.

The wall can be locked closed or the wings can be locked into place at 45 or 90 degrees.