Unlike regular walls that are structural components of buildings, partition walls are simplistic in nature. Partition walls are designed as non-load bearing walls. They may be of folding, collapsible or fixed type. If partition walls are load-bearing then they are often called, ‘internal wall’.
Partition walls may be defined as a wall or division made up of bricks, studding, glass or other such material which are provided for the purpose of dividing one room or portion of a room from another.
Apart from their conventional use, partition walls are known to add a number of other aspects to interior design. From aesthetics to functionality, today’s partition walls contribute to designs in all possible manners.
Figure 1: Partition Walls
Partition walls are commonly used to create private and semi-private areas. As per existing trends, wall punctures are used to create innovative patterns in partition walls. These punctures effectively decide the privacy of space while having an aesthetic presence.
The punctures showcased in the image filter the amount of natural and artificial light entering a space. This filtration affects the overall ambience so as to improve the aesthetic appeal and functionality of the space. This is commonly used to create dynamic interactive spaces for users to appreciate while working.
Unlike structural walls, the materials, textures, colours and even finishes can all be modified as per requirement. These features can alter moods, improve productivity and even increase the happiness index.
Figure 2: Multi-Use Partition Walls
Generic Partition Walls
Brick Partition Wall
There are three types of brick partition walls which include plain brick partition wall, reinforced brick partition wall, and brick nogging partition wall.
Plain brick partition wall
It is constructed from plain bricks, and it is common and cost-effective.
The bricks are laid as stretchers in cement mortar.
Thickness of plain brick partition wall is 10cm or half a brick.
Recommended height is maximum 2m for construction in a day.
It is plastered on both sides.
Strong and fire-resistant if the brick wall is constructed properly.
Figure 3: Plain Brick Partition Wall
Reinforced Brick partition wall
It is similar to a plain brick partition but reinforced brick is much stronger due to the placement of reinforcements.
Reinforcements, which is in the form of wire mesh strips or iron bare, are placed at every third or fourth course.
Reinforced wire strip width ranges from 25mm to 28mm and thickness is 1.6mm.
Steel bar diameter is 6mm
The thickness of the wall equal to 10cm or half a brick.
This type of partition wall is used when a better longitudinal bond is needed and when the partition wall has to support other superimposed loads.
Figure 4: Reinforced Brick Partition wall
Brick nogging partition wall
Brick nogging partition wall consists of brickwork built within a framework of wooden members.
The timber framework consists of vertical posts (studs). Horizontal members (nogging), sill.
Studs spaced at 60 cm to 150 cm and held in position by nogging pieces.
The nogging pieces are housed into the studs at 60 cm to 90 cm apart vertically.
The wooden framework provides stability to the partition against lateral loads and vibrations caused due to opening the adjoining door and windows.
The bricks are commonly laid flat, but they also may be laid on edge
The brickwork is plastered from both sides.
Cement mortar proportion 1:3 is used.
The size of the studs and nogging depends upon the thickness of the partition wall.
For a 10 cm thick partition wall, the studs and nogging should be 15 cm wide so that after the brickwork is plastered from both the faces, the timber framework may finish flush with the wall face.
The surfaces of the timber framework coming in contact with brickwork are coated with coal tar.
This type of partition wall suffers from the drawback of the timber getting delayed.
The mortar used may not stick well to the timber members and thus the brickwork is likely to become loose after some time.
Figure 5: Timber framework in a brick nogging partition wall
Clay brick partition wall
The blocks which are used for clay brick partition wall is manufactured from clay or terracotta.
Blocks may be hollow or solid.
Hollow clay bricks are commonly employed for light partition walls.
The blocks are placed in a mortar
Hollow brick partition walls are rigid, economical, strong, fire-resistant, and good heat sound insulator.
The sizes of the hollow blocks differ with the texture of the material.
The thickness of this type of partition wall varies between 6 cm to 15 cm.
Hollow brick partitions walls are constructed in a similar manner as structural load-bearing walls.
Grooves are provided on the top, bottom, and sides of the block to improve the bond between the block and plaster.
Figure 6: Timber framework in a brick nogging partition wall
Figure 7: Hollow Clay Brick Partition wall
Brickwork is used mainly in a structural and/or exterior wall. However, their application as partition walls has proven effective for many years. Since the materials are needed for building construction anyways, they can easily be used for making partition walls instantaneously.
Glass partition walls
They are cheap, light, and easy in construction and provide reasonable privacy and sound insulation. such walls are constructed from glass sheets or hollow glass blocks which will be discussed below.
Glass sheet partition wall
It is constructed by fixing a sheet of glass in a wooden framework.
Glass sheets are fixed in a timber frame using timber beadings or by putty.
The wooden framework consists of a number of horizontal and vertical posts, suitably spaced, to divide the entire area into a number of panels.
The panels might be rectangular or square and their size varies with the choice of each individual.
Glass sheet partition wall is light, vermin proof, damp proof, and soundproof.
Wired glass, bulletproof glass, and three-ply glass are examples of strong glass sheets which are suitable for glass sheet partition wall construction.
Figure 8: glass sheet partition wall
Hollow glass block partition wall
It is constructed from hollow glass blocks.
Hollow glass blocks are translucent glass units that are light and are manufactured with various thicknesses, shapes, and sizes.
The size of square hollow glass blocks, which is most widely used, is 14X14 cm or 19X19 cm with a thickness of 10 cm.
The jointing edges are painted internally and sanded externally to help the bond between mortar and glass block.
The front and back sides are either decorated or left plain.
Block glass is laid in cement : lime mortar : fine sand (1:1:4).
All joints shall be filled adequately.
Metal strip reinforcement is placed at every third or fourth course for block height up to 15mm.
Reinforcement is placed at every course if the height of the block exceeds 25 cm.
There is another type of glass block with joggles and end grooves as well.
Figure 9: Glass block partition wall
Concrete Partition wall
It consists of a concrete slab, plain or reinforced, supported laterally by vertical members. These slabs may be either precast or cast in situ.
Cast in situ concrete partition wall
Thickness ranges from 80mm to 100mm
It is poured monolithically with intermediate columns
It is rigid and stable both in vertical and horizontal directions but the framework is costly.
The reinforcement consisting of mild steel bars or B R C fabric is placed in the centre of the wall thickness.
The concrete mix usually adopted in the work is M15 (1:2:4).
Figure 10: Cast in situ concrete partition wall
Precast concrete slab partitions wall
The wall is built from precast concrete slab units
Precast unit thickness ranges from 25mm to 40mm
Precast units are secured to precast posts
Joints shall be filled with mortar
Concrete mix is M15 (1:2:4).
Figure 11: Precast concrete partition wall
Plaster slab partition wall
Plaster slabs or plasterboards are made from burnt gypsum or Plaster of Paris, mixed with sawdust or other fibrous material to reduce its weight
Units of plaster slab prepared in an iron or timber mould with size 1 to 2m long, 30cm high and 50 to 100mm thick.
they are equipped with suitable grooves to create rigid joints
Plaster slab surface may be smooth or rough. The former is not plastered but rough surface act as a key for plaster.
Figure 12: plaster slab partition wall
Metal lath partition wall
Metal lath partition walls are thin, strong, durable and considerably fire-resistant.
Metal lath partition walls are constructed by placing 2cm or 2.5cm channels vertically (called studs) and fixing metal lath to it on one side.
Plaster is applied to both the sides of the metal
If hallow partition is required, metal lath is fixed to the channels on both the sides and then plaster is applied.
Figure 13: Metal lath partition wall
A.C. Sheet or G.I. Sheet partition wall
Partition walls constructed from asbestos cement sheeting or galvanized sheet fixed to wooden or steel frame.
It is mostly adopted in works of a temporary character.
Such walls are economical, light and fairly rigid if constructed properly.
Slab consists of core or corrugated asbestos cement sheet with the plain asbestos cement sheet attached to it on either side. The use of such slabs renders the partition wall more fire-resistant and makes it have good heat and sound insulation properties.
Figure 14: Asbestos sheet or GI sheet partition wall
Wood-wool partition wall
Wood wool consists of long tangled wood fibres, uncompacted, coated and bound together with cement or plaster, and with a rough open surface which provides an excellent key for plaster.
It is a good heat and sound insulator.
Figure 15: Wood-wool partition wall
Timber partitions wall
This type of partition walls that consists of a wooden framework is either supported on the floor below or by sidewalls.
The framework consists of a rigid arrangement of timber members which may be plastered or covered with boarding etc from both the sides.
Such partitions are not fire-resistant and the timber forming the partition is likely to decay or be eaten away by white ants.
The use of timber partition walls is decreasing.
Figure 16: Timber Partition wall
Innovation in Partition Walls
With advancements in material studies and software, partition walls have been broken down and designed from the ground up. With modelling software in place, a number of prototypes can be imagined, visualised and ultimately created. While the possibilities are endless, it is clear that partition walls are for the future.
Shelved Partition Wall
Figure 17: Partition Walls (with Shelves)
Partition walls are being clubbed with shelves to create a monolithic frame which serve more than one purpose.
They allow light to percolate creating semi-private spaces on either side. They divide rooms into different zones without the feeling of any big obstruction.
They are usually made from wood and alloys od metals but can be made with other materials as well.
A good aesthetic appeal
Shelves double as storage spaces while dividing the space
The opportunity to decorate the wall is invited as the contents on the shelves are at the discretion of the users.
They require less material which can also bring down costs,
They are usually hollow allowing light to percolate through them increasing the spatial perception of any given room
These partition walls cannot be used to create private spaces since there is only partial obstruction of one’s view. Another factor to consider is the unwanted sound which cannot be contained between the divided spaces.
Misuse of these walls can involve putting waste material in shelves instead of dustbins. Coffee mugs and other containers can be placed and forgotten on the shelf space creating an eyesore.
Cleaning these walls require more manpower and specialised equipment in some cases.
These walls are best suited for open office areas where people can add their own elements to the shelves creating a homely office. Since these walls can be finished with a number of materials or laminates they can be used in thematic settings as well. With different colour being an evident possibility these walls can be used for branding as well.
Figure 18: Green Partition Walls
“Biophilia” is the most trending design theme in office spaces today. Identifying the need for natural elements inside an office to promote productivity is the first step forward. In closed offices, these walls are often the only connection one has to nature.
Green walls are a popular solution to adding greenery inside an office space. Adding potted plants or vertical planters to a framework to serve as a divider between spaces is effectively an eco-friendly partition wall. Their aesthetic appeal usually revolves around the type of planters used.
They are commonly used in open spaces and are deemed a landscaping element by architects. Hence, offices with open areas or terraces are known to use these walls
These walls use actual plants which is an eco-friendly aspect that is revered.
Biophilia is associated with good mental health for employees as it keeps employees and staff members connected to nature at all times.
Oxygen and transpiration revitalise the senses of people. Transpiration is an aspect which reduces the temperature which can potentially be beneficial in warmer cities.
The opportunity to take care of flora by watering and fertilising plants can create an interactive element which will please employees.
Their beauty and vibrance are considered eye-catching by most. They are often the focal point of people's attention since flowers of different varieties can be introduced as well.
The biggest disadvantage of green walls is their maintenance. Watering, pruning and fertilising these walls may prove costly and difficult without proper management.
Another common problem associated with biophilia is insects. Ants, mosquitoes and even bees are attracted to these plants. Poorly maintained green walls create breeding grounds for insects.
Green walls to be exposed to natural light to thrive. This being said harsh sunlight can very well destroy plants as well. Their positioning needs to be planned perfectly for their healthy growth.
Water and mud can spill by user error creating a cleanliness issue.
Though problematic, green walls can be very beneficial for employees. Offices with sufficient funds and space can utilise these walls to set themselves ahead of other competing offices. Their aesthetic appeal is of the highest order while bearing great importance with respect to the environment at large.
Figure 19: Pattern-based Partition Walls
Patterns and lighting are 2 simplistic features that can be incorporated into any partition wall.
With metallic finishes like copper and brass on the rise, wooden partitions are seen in these walls. They are usually hinged at the bottom to keep in place. Another approach sees these walls become a part of a framework. Broad bases are used in some cases to balance the wall without necessarily nailing, riveting or welding these walls into any structural member of the office.
The minimal cross-section and punctures ensure that less material is needed making this wall economical.
The varied silhouettes created by the wall punctures can be used to harmonise an office.
When combined with Natural light these walls create an almost spiritual element to the office.
Brandishing perfectly cut and punctured walls add an aesthetic value to the wall.
Specially carved and handmade walls can also be used to recreate religious, patriotic and even regional arts. This works well with thematic offices as they add an authentic design element to the fold.
Carved walls can be considerably expensive.
Their aesthetic appeal might vary from person to person depending on the pattern being used.
These walls are difficult to dust and wash.
Since these walls are considerably thin and specialised they are usually delicate in nature.
Privacy is limited due to lack of sound insulation and general visibility across the wall.
These walls are popular in every sociable section of offices. Their low-cost makes them an easy choice for most shareholders to add to the office. Their ability to reflect culture and religion makes them a common choice for any corporate shareholders that may want to portray his or his company's cultural background.
Figure 20: Kinetic Partition Walls
The concept of partition walls can be used with the concept of kinetic architecture to create makeshift rooms for temporary usage.
Kinetic architecture is a concept which inculcates movable rooms and buildings that can be set up anywhere with minimal. Their mere portability makes them a sustainable versatile option to consider.
This temporary partition walled room is easy to set up and can be used anywhere. This is ideal for offices with multiple centres. This flexibility reduces costs, in the long run, making them sustainable for companies' as well.
The mobility makes them ideal for offices if they intend to restructure their office.
If planned and used properly they can save space while adding an interactive component to offices.
They double as storage spaces which can be locked and hence privatised.
Their integration with workstations can provide efficiency and solutions to offices.