As specialists in office interior refits and refurbs, we install a considerable amount of office partitioning for our clients. Whilst we are all familiar with the concept of office partitioning, we find that our clients aren’t aware of the range of partitioning available and the relative merits of each type for specific workplace environments.
One of the major considerations with regards to office partitioning is to ask ourselves the question: what is it to achieve? For example, is it simply to provide demarcation of working zones, is it purely aesthetic, what is the function of the partitioned spaces, is sound-proofing an issue, what are the fire-proofing requirements, is glazing required, how robust does it need to be for the workplace, does it need to be easily reconfigurable to easily adapt to the exigencies of the workplace etc?
These considerations, and more, would help to lead us in the direction of a particular type/system of partitioning however, within each type of partitioning there are multiple issues to consider around functionality and aesthetics. For example, is the feel of the entire working space to be open-plan, what is the colour scheme, what doors and/or windows are required, are manifestations required for glazing … right down to what types of doors and door fittings are required?
Whilst it is not possible to dig too deeply into the minutiae of of the subject here, we thought it would be useful to provide an overview of the different types of partitioning used in workplaces to provide prospective clients with some useful indicators as to what is available for workplace/office refurbs and fit-outs.
This form of partitioning is the one most akin to domestic internal walling in that it comprises of sheets of plasterboard/drywall anchored to a framework. However, whilst in a domestic setting the framework would comprise of wooden batons, in a commercial setting we use a galvanized aluminium framed system. It is an entirely flexible system that can incorporate all manner of glazing and door configurations such as full-height unglazed, bottom half solid with a glazed top-half etc.
This type of partitioning provides good levels of sound reduction and is a relatively economical option with a high-quality finish providing durability along with meeting structural fire protection requirements.
Demountable, or composite, partitioning is primarily utilised in office environments and comprises a frame onto which are mounted solid or glazed panels, along with doors as required.
This is an ideal form of partitioning for creating offices and meeting rooms and has the benefits of being highly configurable along with the flexibility of being able to ‘demount’ the partitioning and relocate it elsewhere as opposed to older, traditional methods that provided ‘single-use’ partitioning.
Metal Faced (Steel) Partitioning
For working environments where durability is of greater importance, such as warehouses, plasterboard and glazing may be less suitable – and certainly in some industrial settings would not be considered an option – and steel partitioning would be recommended.
The partitioning system itself follows a similar method to the above but with steel panels mounting on the framework making for a tough skin on the walling. For added strength, sound reduction and/or fire ratings, a double-skin steel partitioning system can be applied.
Powder coating is used to add colour to the partitioning and glazing can be utilised to for greater flexibility in both aesthetic and usage.
Silicon Glazed Partitioning
Often referred to as ‘frameless partitioning’ (albeit the head and wall channels are aluminium), this style of partitioning uses ultra slim silicon joints between glass sheeting to provide the ‘walls’, giving the impression of space with maximum use of light and visibility within an office environment.
With no obvious frames visible, the impression given is one of walls of glass which, depending upon requirements, can be double-glazed for sound-proofing and thermal considerations. To further the ‘open’ look/feel of the partitioning, glass doors can be installed, although more traditional wooden doors can equally be used if preferred.
An added aesthetic for silicon glazed partitioning is the ability to add graphics to the glass. These manifestations can really add impact to a working environment and while frequently used to incorporate the company branding, can take an endless number of forms with the only limit being imagination!