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Sat 31 Jan 2009 04:00 AM

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Within wall

Construction of walls is extremely important as it protects from external elements and controls movement of heat, air and moisture through the building envelope. Features Editor Shikha Mishra reports on how the wall has evolved over the years.

Construction of walls is extremely important as it protects from external elements and controls movement of heat, air and moisture through the building envelope. Features Editor Shikha Mishra reports on how the wall has evolved over the years.

Be it the Great Wall of China, Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, or the Berlin Wall - walls have been an integral part of every society in written history.

Early walls were made from dry stone construction, also called stone fences or dykes. Then the use of mortar in wall construction came in followed by brick and block.

Pre-cast panels offer superior thermal properties, lower electricity consumption, and can be erected quickly as they are lightweight, fire resistant and are 100% recyclable. - Sameer Mavani, marketing manager, Jehan Green Walls.

Walls are now being constructed with concrete and pre-cast concrete which allows the wall to set quicker and leads to faster construction times.

Structural engineers design walls to be strong enough to resist horizontal and vertical forces imposed upon them, as defined by building codes.

Such loads include wind forces, self-weight of the building, the weights of walls and floors from above, the effects of expansion and contraction as generated by temperature and humidity variations as well as the wear and tear of interior occupancy.

Specifically developed wall membranes can make a major contribution towards the environment by improving the energy efficiency of a building.On the basic structure of a wall, there are a number of products that can be used for cladding on interior and exterior walls.

"The type of an internal wall depends on whether it is a residential or a commercial building.

Exterior walls are made of concrete blocks while a majority of internal walls are made of gypsum boards. These boards are used in commercial buildings as they can be moved around or adjusted easily for partitions in offices.

DuPont makes a number of interior wall cladding products, including Corian, a product that is currently being used at the under-construction Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi. - Tony Azzam, DuPont.

In residential buildings, partitions are of concrete," says Tony Azzam, regional business manager, DuPont building innovations, ME, Africa, Turkey and Pakistan.

DuPont makes a number of interior wall cladding products, including Corian, a product that is currently being used at the under-construction Louvre museum in Abu Dhabi.

"Corian is a solid surface product which comes in a 6mm sheet. Its advantages are that it is stain resistant, easy to work with and the colour does not fade or change," says Azzam.

Energain is another new product that the company launched in Europe last year. An energy saving thermal mass systems it is used for heat insulation within a wall. "It is a paraffin wax in a panel that is installed on the inside of a wall.When the temperature goes up, the wax expands to absorb heat and does not allow the heat to come into the room. When the temperature drops, the paraffin contracts and retains heat in the room," says Azzam.

Though Energain is ideal for steel and glass structures, the product has not been introduced in the Middle East market because of municipality regulations that allow heat insulation only to be used on the outside of a building and polystyrene or polyurethane as the only approved heat insulation products.

Cladding for interior walls should also be able to take on high stress levels, especially in areas where there is high traffic such as an office, schools, hospital corridors and gyms. Knauf has developed a rugged board as a dry wall solution for such rooms called Knauf Diamant which is easy to apply and provides the highest sound protection values with minimum wall thicknesses.

Looking at the current market scenario of building constructions within the region, introduction of our new building and construction technology in walls will lead to reduced costs and time. It also simplifies the construction process and gives a high coefficient of thermal insulation.

Jehan Green Walls will begin making insulated pre-cast walls for the construction sector from its factory based in the Hamriyah Free Zone, Sharjah which will be operational in April this year. The factory is spread over a 35,000 m2 with a production capacity of 1,500,000 m2 of 3D panels per year.

"We make 3D panels for villa construction, insulated pre-cast load bearing and non load bearing external walls," says Sameer Mavani, marketing manager, Jehan Green Walls.

The wall panel consists of welded-wire frame integrated with a polystyrene insulation core.The EPS core is of a thickness ranging from 50 to 150 mm sandwiched between two plane-parallel welded wire mesh sheets (cover meshes) and inclined diagonal wires in between that go through the EPS core and that are electrically welded to the cover mesh's line wires.

This results in three-dimensional truss system with high inherent stiffness. The technology for the manufacture of the polystyrene panel with wire mesh will come from EVG, Austria.

After the production of the panel, it is placed in a position that converts the panel in to pre-cast panel element by applying plaster either of concrete or glass reinforced gypsum mix on both sides on standard pre-cast machinery available in the market.

For external walls the 3D panel is cast with concrete on both sides and for internal partition walls the 3D panel is cast with glass reinforced gypsum on both sides.

"Pre-cast panels offer superior thermal properties, lower electricity consumption, and can be erected quickly as they are lightweight, are fire resistant and are 100% recyclable," says Mavani.

Walls are as staple a construction today and will remain for a long time to come. The concept of walls has expanded in its types of applications and is not just used in buildings. Walls can be also used in the classic defence barriers or land markers as well as for sound and wind barriers.

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