Polycarbonate multiwall for office partitions?
March 15, 2007 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have experience using polycarbonate multiwall for office partitions? Will we create an indoor greenhouse by mistake?

We want to to turn our "Holy 90's Batman! It's a Loft!" office into something that offers some privacy for our coders.

We are looking at 16mm multiwall polycarbonate sheets in place of drywall over standard aluminum framing studs. The office has an 8' x 6' bank of windows that face North, so there isn't a lot of natural light to begin with. We are looking at using translucent material to provide some natural light to people seated in the back.

Before we do this, does the hive mind have any experience with this?
posted by mrbugsentry to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
The 'Softwall' mentioned about halfway down this article looks kinda like it might fit your needs.
posted by Happy Dave at 9:09 AM on March 15, 2007

We almost used this material in our office space. Instead, we went with a plastic sheet which is somewhat frosted with Jackson Pollacky crazing. It was attached on both sides metal framing studs. We went with this material because it was cheaper.

Overall, we're happy with it. It lets a some light through, but it's still a little dark farthest from the windoew. It also preserves privacy nicely enough.

I doubt it provides any more or less heat retention than drywall.
posted by plinth at 9:27 AM on March 15, 2007

check local building codes before you do this. Drywall has certain fire resistance properties. Plastic, not so much.
posted by cosmicbandito at 9:40 AM on March 15, 2007

I doubt you'd have much problem with heat because your windows are on the north wall, you shouldn't be getting direct sunlight that would cause excessive glazing to be a problem.

I've worked in an office that had 6' high cubes defined by translucent glass. The building was built around an atrium so there was lots of light coming in but no direct sunlight (at least in my office). I preferred it to conventional fabric cube walls though it was a touch noisier because of the hard surface. Much less noisy than an open plan though. There was a sense of distance even though you couldn't see farther than in a regular cube. They were a bit less private though as you could see an amorphous blob of people in a joining cubes. Heat wasn't a problem.

Joel Spolsky used acrylic panels when he had cart blanche to build a programmers office and I really admire his solution.
posted by Mitheral at 9:40 AM on March 15, 2007

Response by poster: Cosmic,

I'm going to jump in here for the benefit of future googlers. Apparently, 16mm multiwall compares favorably to drywall for fire resistance. Who knew?

Still, I'm definitely not buying squat until the fire marshall agrees.
posted by mrbugsentry at 10:59 AM on March 15, 2007

second the softwall. I saw it in azure a while ago (check the ads, there are tons of cool ideas in that mag) and the thought of something relatively solid that is easy to rearrange in case of a group meeting or conference sounded great to me.

don't worry too much about sound. these things are pretty tall and that makes all the difference.
posted by krautland at 12:45 PM on March 15, 2007

The Softwall is cool, and any number of francy-pants online furniture dealers sell it online.

~ $2000.00 for 20 feet of it, at six feet tall.
posted by YoBananaBoy at 2:52 PM on March 15, 2007

How is HVAC set up? If you're going floor-to-ceiling, you're going to want an intake and an outlet in every airtight compartment you create; otherwise, that compartment will not receive the benefit of HVAC.

Likewise, if you leave a space at the ceiling, but your intakes and outlets are at the floor, you're going to produce some fixed drafts that might be unpleasant.

A few minutes of thinking about these issues ought to be sufficient and will prevent a lot of problems.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:25 PM on March 15, 2007

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