Avant-gardists in architecture and the furniture sector are catering to this aspiration with open layouts and innovative furniture concepts that break away from the classic range categories. Merely looking at many of today's lamps, armchairs, desks or cabinets is no longer enough to tell you whether they are actually intended for the dining room or the night table, for the living room, sleeping area or kitchen. Sofas, dressers and kitchen islands have long since moved away from the wall and are increasingly being clad in gloss, wood, leather or fabric on all sides.
The bathroom is becoming cosier too, both in terms of the materials that are feasible and the way the space is used. Even so, the possibilities bathroom planners and consumers have for positioning the sanitary equipment are still limited. At most, the bathtub might occasionally be put in the middle of the room as a freestanding element. There is still a huge gap between the desire for creative freedom and the practicable solutions available for turning it into reality. And Burgbad wants to close that gap.
The new approach to zoning the bathroom
Burgbad took an important step in this direction with rc40, a modular collection that has been available since 2005. "rc" stands for room concepts, and the rc40 range developed by Bielefeld studio Nexus Product Design is widely regarded as bridging the gap between the bathroom world and the living space. On the face of things merely a cabinet collection with a number of extras, rc40 can in fact be used to equip and zone entire spaces and bathrooms, creating a consistent atmosphere throughout. The collection has certainly got what it takes to break down spatial boundaries: flexible dimensions, wall-high panel systems and a wide range of integrable modules (like washstand, bathtub und mirrors), not to mention surfaces that can be given a totally uninterrupted look and come in a wide choice of finishes ranging.
Where does the bedroom start, where does the bathroom stop? Is the multimedia wall actually operated from the bathroom or the reading corner? Does this solution still qualify as a walk-in wardrobe, or is it actually a salon with dressing table and washbasin? Who can tell the difference between wall and cabinet or shelf and shower when shelves and wall units with drawers are invisibly integrated into panel walls, cabinets, dressers and consoles, when the mirrors, tall cabinets and pre-wall elements seem to merge seamlessly with one another? Like a box full of building blocks or Lego, rc40 tempts creative planners to create new spaces.
The programme rc40 is one of Burgbad's best-known collections and is held in high esteem by architects, interior designers and bathroom planners. But the new generation of rc40 goes one step further. The furniture collection enters into an alliance with the sanitary technology. Not in the sense of an add-on, but in order to create a structural unit consisting of furniture, sanitary equipment and the technology that usually disappears into the walls and floor. In this case, it doesn't disappear. It's just stored away in the cabinet, and doesn't have to come out again until it's time for the next inspection.
Anybody who opts for rc40 doesn't need to worry about mortar dust the next time a pipe has to be replaced or added. Easily accessible service hatches are about to make regular maintenance child's play.
The principle behind rc40 is as simple as it is innovative: the furniture is constructed on a steel skeleton and serves as the base, rear wall, superstructure or as table for bathtub, shower or washbasin. These individually configurable units form complete modules that can be positioned anywhere in the room and hooked up to the water supply.
Liberation from the wall
By decoupling the furniture from the traditional supply and wastewater infrastructure, the latest additions to the rc40 range once again permit some totally new planning approaches. Planners and plumbers can fall back on the familiar pre-wall systems for implementing the innovative modules. Rc40 was developed in collaboration with all the established sanitary technology companies. Because it was created on the basis of their pre-wall and installation systems, its modules are compatible with their basic constructions. The pre-wall systems can now be fitted with the upmarket furniture.
Besides extremely convenient installation, customers and planners also benefit from the systems' fundamental benefits: allied with different pipe materials, they also for instance provide the possibility of integrating technical elements like the cistern or concealing electric wiring.
This liberation from the wall and the supply shafts it contains not only allows the shower, washbasin or toilet to be placed anywhere in the room in the form of composite or differentiated units, it also means storage space can be created wherever it is needed. Right next to the shower, for instance, under the bathtub or behind the mirrored wall. Every corner of the space becomes usable. But to a large extent, liberation from the wall also means emancipation from tiles. Thanks to the wide variety of furniture finishes and modules, rc40 gives new possibilities for designing the wall as well. One positive side effect: the absence of joins and dirt traps results in an improved hygiene situation. On top of everything else, the plumber can take care of setting up and installing every single module himself and doesn't have to rely on other tradesmen.
rc40 provides planners with a powerful tool – not just for developing innovative layouts and designs for everything to do with the bathroom but for planning the bathroom and adjacent living space in line with current developments: as an integral and consistent entity. The bathroom with Burgbad's mineral-cast bathtubs and washbasins and the zones that surround it look like a single and homogeneous whole – but not as if they came off the peg: apart from three preconfigured modules, all the rc40 solutions are individually configurable.