The square panels found on typical TNG shooting models were
sort of established as indeed being either lifeboat hull sections (or then at least blowaway rather than hinged obstacles to lifeboat launch). That is, in "Best of Both Worlds", some of the wrecks were supposedly completed with "missing" squares rather than "opened" ones.
Of course, there's a major dramatic advantage to having hinged panels, because the plot can then involve a pod or dozen being fired without necessitating the shooting model to be modified to show the aftermath of the launch. VOY appeared to capitalize on this.