The Conceptualisation and Modelling of Partition Walls

Updated: Sep 22






Introduction


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.


Advantages:-


  • 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


Disadvantages:-


  • 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.


Conclusion


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



Advantages:-


  • 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.


Disadvantages:-


  • 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.


Conclusion


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.



Advantages:- 


  • 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.


Disadvantages:-


  • 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.


Conclusion


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.




Advantage:-


  • 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.


Disadvantage:-


  • These partition walls are usually very expensive.

  • Since the user has to set it up there is scope for misuse and wreckage.

  • They have a huge spatial requirement and are designed for a specific part of an office. 

Conclusion


Kinetic architecture is a growing concept that promises a bright and sustainable future for structures. Houses, offices and now walls are being introduced knowing they can be assembled in different locations. These walls can be integrated with workstations, rooms, and spaces which creates a completely new way of designing.


Though the concept is widely appreciated, this concept is widely conceptual and idealistic due to the high cost and spatial requirement.




Figure 21: Acoustic Partition Walls



Acoustics are vital to the functioning of any office. From casual conversations to audiovisual presentations, the need for sound acoustics is non-negotiable.


Generic walls add variable amounts of acoustic quality to offices. The introduction of partition walls that cater to acoustics can easily improve the workability and efficiency of an office.


Similar to any auditorium, curved facades prevent echos from even the largest distances. Using polycarbonate sheets to create a layered wall is a genuine attempt to enhance the quality of any space.



Advantages:- 


  • Since they reassemble the facades of auditoriums, they bring out a “grand” “royal” factor into any room. This is aesthetically pleasing to any large presentation room. 

  • Their sound-enhancing ability has conclusively increased attention spans. Proactivity has been another allied feature of these walls as they vitalise the office.

  • Their specialised use in meeting rooms, conference rooms, multipurpose rooms which lack quality sound systems.


Disadvantages:-


  • They are more expensive to alternate partition walls designed for sound insulation and enhancement. These walls do not have any particular facades but consist of alternate materials only.

  •  They occupy space and need to have clear space in front of them to perform properly.

  • Their cleanliness is tricky due to its facade.

  • A few cases of breaking on cleaning have been recorded.


Conclusion


Acoustic Partition walls have a very specific scope of application. Their use in meeting rooms, conference rooms or any large hall intended to address a number of people. 


Though they might be deemed an expensive alternative for the Indian economy to adopt, their performance cannot be ignored. Organisations with significant capital use these partition walls efficiently with its merit in mind.





Figure 22: Foldable Partition Walls



Foldable partition walls are a useful tool for any large span rooms. Linear rooms can easily be split in 2 whenever required. These movable walls can be cladded with any fabric, panel or wood. Hence the aesthetic appeal of these walls is fairly versatile.


Two separate departments can be united instantaneously for any interdepartmental conferences or discussions. 


Advantages:- 


  • The adaptable component prevents the need for a separate conference room adding more value to the room.

  • These foldable walls can effectively save space by creating larger rooms for interactions between people.

  • The use of fabrics or laminates can be used to create attractive walls.

  • They are not too expensive.


Disadvantages:- 


  • These walls consist of a number of hinges to collapse onto itself. These hinges are prone to wear and tear over time creating difficulty for staff members to use.

  • These walls are delicate in nature and need staff members to use with care.

  • These walls require specialised railings which cannot be used in all locations.


Conclusion


Foldable doors are a growing trend in the design market as their use is getting recognition. Since they can be used in almost all scenarios their utility is very clear to corporations. Their use in offices and residential areas are significant with the prior using the most of these walls. Their handling and cost are being superseded by their mere utility which has a broad scope for any organisation.







Data Analysis & Assessment


“Internal Walls” show promise in any interior designing project. They directly define a room or space by their positioning, orientation, colour, shape, and or size.


The possibilities are endless with designs being made more and more elaborate. With a multitude of materials and frameworks, these partition walls can serve as either positive or negative spaces. Partition walls have the ability to serve as backgrounds or foregrounds of designs. This is an important factor to consider during the initial design phase of a project.


The ability of partition walls to be clubbed with other functions is yet another important trait to consider while designing. They can provide storage space, biophilia, acoustic enhancement and ambient lighting to any given space while effectively dividing a room. This functional aspect is useful in offices with limited space. The idea of holistic designs can be incorporated into partition walls to yield the best possible results.


Foldable and collapsible walls provide another unique dimension for designers. The ability to modify an existing space spontaneously allows designers to create adaptable designs that prove to be very useful. Conference rooms, Multipurpose rooms can all be crafted from regular rooms whenever needed. The abundance of space saved is invaluable to clients as the cost of renting an additional room is thwarted. 


Partition walls are credited with the ability to suit any design strategy and or theme. Current trends of biophilia and sustainability can easily be incorporated into most partition walls.







WorkAmp Designs


Office spaces all utilise partition walls to divide rooms and spaces strategically in order to yield the best results. 


At Workamp Spaces Pvt. Ltd. design-based studies and creativity are grossly incorporated into partition walls. Walls that serve multiple purposes are developed and used to optimise productivity wherever possible. 


The ideology behind partition walls stems from their positioning, orientation and overall usage. These parameters create a design brief for the company's product team. Material studies are then used to innovate by adding additional functions, textures and colours to these walls. 



Figure 23: Custom Glass Partition Walls




Glass partitions are a staple when it comes to office designs. They provide the illusion of space which is invaluable for smaller rooms or cabins. Furthermore, they have a minimal cross-section allowing more room to be used by people.


For “open plans” glass partitions are used for meeting rooms & conference rooms. They allow privacy to be maintained while allowing natural light to percolate through the entire office.


Recognising the value of glass partitions in office designs are vital to any project. Through much trial and error, WorkAmp spaces developed a composite glass partition wall that uses 2 different kinds of glasses in a single panel. The use of frosted glass across the middle of the glass panel creates a makeshift writing board for employees to use. Meeting rooms and cabins use these customised glass partitions to make notes and tables. 




Figure 24: Partition Walls in Meeting rooms



Figure 25: Composite Partition Walls


At Workamp Estate, the designated meeting room is separated from the reception area with the customised glass partition. However, the glass partition is augmented with a wooden frame. This is done to enhance the privacy of the meeting room while providing a canvas for the company logo. The wooden frame extends to the ceiling giving the reception area an exclusive aesthetic design which seen on entry. 


The wooden frame itself is an extension of the flooring making the entire reception area seem like a monolithic part of the office. This apparent single entity seems enormous and structured conjuring a “grand” feeling at the coworking space.



Figure 26: Graphical Partition Walls


Graphics and Quotes are a simplistic use of partition walls that boost morale with minimal intervention. The designs are based on the size and colour of the partition wall giving a balanced vision for the employees.







Conclusion


Innovative partition walls are vital to commercial estates which include offices. Unlike residential or institutional estates, commercial estates require intricate optimisation for employees to come, stay and produce their best work.


With different office profiles and requirements, the need for partition walls to adapt is essential. Thematic offices demand partition walls of particular materials and finishes that adhere to their company’s personality. 


Functionalism has been incorporated into partition walls to add new dimensions to design while saving space and capital. Productivity and domestication of the workspace can be focused on with the help of partition walls. This promises to attract top talent for any company as they look to grow and expand their services.


The identification of the potential of partition walls by WorkAmp Space Pvt. Ltd was the first of many steps to develop creative partition walls.


Through data analysis and material studies, a string of exclusive partition walls has been devised for particular locations. These walls cater to the exact need of the given space.

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