This article has been updated based on audience feedback to include two additional projects. Leave a comment below if you know of anymore that warrant a mention.  

Whether they tilt, coil, slide or fold, operable window walls are commonly specified by Australian building designers because they offer clients flexible living and an operable connection between interior and outdoor spaces.

While in search of that flexibility, we have seen building designers of late turn to using garage, hangar and overhead doors where traditional sliding and bifold variations might have been previously specified, mainly because they offer unprecedented use of space. 

Contemporary overhead and horizontal sliding glass doors as well as vertically bi-folding windows are also becoming less of an energy burden and can be specified to include double glazed units, low-e glass and thermally broken frames.

Here are five projects where overhead windows and doors have replaced traditional variations in window wall applications.

1. Palm Beach House, NSW by Don Taylor Design Associates

Don Taylor Design Associates used a vertical folding window system from Smartech Door Systems to open up the interiors to prevailing north easterly winds at this exclusive residence in Sydney’s Palm Beach. (Images: Smartech)

2. Koppen Tce, Cairns by Ben Killeen Design

The feature of this Cairns home by Ben Killeen Design is the 5 metre high x 4 metre wide automatic vertical bi-fold door, made with “low-e” glass panels for improved solar heat gain insulation. The system comes from Arco.(Images: Reilly Building)

3. The Black Box, NSW by Tina Tziallas Architecture Studio

Tina Tziallas repurposed an old machinery shed into a new office for software company Inteweave. Tziallas replaced the existing garage roller doors with three high-performance Renlita tilt doors (available from Australia’s Monarch Doors) and clad the remaining of the northern façade in a low VLT black glass. The tilt doors and other glazed areas are also double glazed units. (Images: Holly Treadaway)

4. Metal Shutter Houses, New York by Shigeru Ban

Shigeru Ban re-designed and transformed an industrial bi-fold door, commonly used in airplane hangars, into an environmentally sound window wall for these New York apartments. The window wall, which is a Lift-Strap Bifold from Schweiss Doors, also becomes a sound proof enclosure to deter undesired urban noises. (Images: Schweiss)

5. Under Armor shop front, Baltimore by A+I architects

The hydraulic door on this retail shopfront functions as an awning during business and a branded safety gate when the store closes. The 8.5 by 4.2 metre door is constructed from black-painted steel and glass and driven by an electric motor and hydraulic pistons. It is an off-the-shelf product from Schweiss Doors. (Images: Barkow Photography)

6. Challis Avenue Apartments, Potts Point by Tonkin Zulaikha Greer

Tonkin Zulaikha Greer designed this six-storey apartment building to not only maximise views, cross ventilation and privacy but also to generate a form that acts as a transition of scale between two neighbouring historic buildings.

The double-height apartments have steel bridges connecting the second bedroom with an outdoor balcony. They also have full-height garage-style operable glass doors that provide a extension of the interior to the north. The doors are 4.6m high 8 panel Powdercoated Aluminium Panel-lift doors from B+D. (Image: Patrick Bingham-Hall)

7. The Commons, Victoria by Breathe Architecture

Breathe Architecture have showed with their award winning project The Commons that sustainability extends beyond a building’s energy performance and into the fields of occupant comfort and experience with the building.

Initiative such as the incorporation of this counterbalanced fold up door by Arco Commercial Door Systems (Victoria) will make The Commons enjoyable for years to come and gives occupants hands on control of their apartment’s thermal comfort. (Photography by Andrew Wuttke)