Broken Plan: Fresh ways to interconnect spaces in an Open-Plan Home

Fire protection unlocks free-flowing and connected open-plan living spaces

Where does our mental image of a home come from? In Britain, the Romans taught us what a house should look like: a kitchen for preparing food, a dining room for eating, bedrooms for sleeping, and so on. Most of our homes still work that way.

But the 20th century gave us a revolution in architectural thinking. Initially drawing on themes from ancient Japan, geniuses like Frank Lloyd Wright, Gropius, Eames, and Rietveld truly made a break with tradition and explored every possible way to bring integrity, oneness and flow into our homes.

Open plan has evolved. It's no longer an artistic experiment: it has become a functional and highly desirable way to build a better home. However, it comes with its challenges. For safety reasons, the building regulations demand additional fire protection in open plan layouts. This is where Automist Smartscan® comes in. This high-tech fire system enables you to do more with your open plan living spaces, achieving better open plan designs that are passed quicker and easier by Building Control.

Open Plan Houses and Flats: Layout Options

Open plan layouts today usually draw on experiments by the great 20th century architects: Frank Lloyd Wright, Gropius, Eames, Rietveld and others. Reviving 1000-year-old ideas from feudal Japan and making them their own, 50 years of experimentation led to three basic approaches to open plan design:

all in one open plan living fire protection


The simplest form of open plan, all-in-one layouts combines several room functions into a single, simple large room. While the impression can be stunning, you may want to make sure your home retains private spaces elsewhere.

fluid open plan living fire protection


Fluid spaces offer communication and flow between partially open areas. Corners, screens and windows strike a balance between connectedness and separateness.

flexible open plan living fire protection


Flexible spaces with movable partitions allow privacy when needed, but retain the option of openness.

Thinking of opting for open plan living?


Fire safe open plan designs are beautiful

Open plan living is beautiful and, thanks to Automist® Smartscan®, can also be made even more free-flowing and stylish through appropriate fire protection. Best of all, when it's time to move, buyers will pay for it and will no doubt be won over by all the added features.


A life rebalanced

Architecture should help you live your best life. Families have changed, couples have changed, and work's changed. In a world of iPads, Netflix, home offices, and high property prices, we risk feeling both cramped and isolated within the walls of our homes. A well-designed open plan home strikes a balance, nurturing the connections between us while giving each of us a little space.


Make more of what you have

With property prices continuing to rise, many of us have to settle for smaller homes. Creating multipurpose rooms can make a small property feel larger - and more expensive.


Can you afford not to?

We can no longer afford not to maximise the value of our homes. With property in popular London boroughs like Hackney now priced above £6,000/m2, reclaiming wasted hallway space into living areas can easily add £20,000 or more to the value of a home, but costs much less to achieve.


Even small changes add value, tax-free!

Even if you don’t combine hallways into living spaces, Which? reports that an open-plan kitchen-diner alone adds around 4% to property value, averaging £25,000 in London. The profits from changes like these help owners climb the property ladder, in most cases tax-free.

How Automist® helps you achieve open plan living:

While open plan layouts offer a chance to own a more beautiful space within the constraints of your property, the “all-in-one” format has its limitations. With family entertainment often replaced by watching Netflix on tablets and phones, and working from home becoming commonplace, the ideas of flexible and fluid architectural spaces have returned with a bang, winning multiple architecture awards and often carrying a new buzzword, broken plan. This new generation of open plan retains the sense of space, lightness, and togetherness, but gives back some privacy and personal space. It can be tricky to pass through building regulations though, with fire safety of paramount concern. Automist® Smartscan® offers the ideal solution, enabling you a choice of designs, such as these below:

Rooms can be gently divided up by height, with split-level floors or even mezzanines. In this space, colour has also been inverted to enhance the separateness of the raised area.
Sliding and folding doors have been around since at least 12th Century Japan, but are more relevant than ever for creating flexible, useful spaces.
Patterned screens, glass walls and internal windows maintain the connectedness of a space, but allow an area to be set slightly to one side, improving privacy, sound isolation, or both.
Functional features, such as shelving units or a large chimney breast, can separate a kitchen and dining space from a living area.
L- and C-shaped rooms are a simple way to reduce sight lines and reintroduce elements of privacy and separateness, while keeping the integrity of the open area.

Automist Smartscan® unlocks open plan, and more...

Automist Smartscan® is not just for open plan - it solves a couple of other problems too:

  • New or converted four-storey houses (for example, after a loft conversion) must have two separate escape routes between the upper floors. For example, a house with a ground, first, second and third floor must have two separate staircases between the third and second floors. Fitting Automist Smartscan® can do away with the requirement for the extra staircase.
  • Building a new home or an extension more than 45m from the road? If a fire engine can't get to it, part B5 of the building regulations will take issue with your project. Fitting Automist Smartscan® may enable these distances to be greater, subject to agreement by Building Control and Fire and Rescue.
Automist Smartscan unlocks open plan living

Let Intelligent Mist help you...

01206 544223

Want advice on whether your open plan layout is approvable, or how your property could be improved with fire suppression? Keen to find out more about how a fire protection system can help you? With hundreds of Automist® systems installed, there's a good chance that we've seen a situation like yours before and we'd be delighted to discuss your project. Give us a call, or send project details through our contact form.