Creative compound walls
Society has a strange way of classifying activities where construction can be a good case in point. It is a single word but not a single type of activity. Constructing a building is not the same as constructing a road, while suspending a bridge can be a totally different activity. Even within a building the internal wall faces different challenges compared to the external wall, yet we treat both of them as same. We tend to adopt a similar approach to dissimilar contexts, unnecessarily wasting energy and resources. In reality, in every aspect of design and construction, it is possible to think over the options and try to be judicious and sustainable.
Let us look at the case of compound walls, for a while ignoring the fact that this wall is actually not needed. Let us look around and we see most of them being built just like another house wall. Actually, the design parameters of the compound wall are diametrically opposite to those of the house wall.
The compound wall is free standing with no weight from the top, hence need not be treated like a load bearing wall. We can design it in any way as we wish. Being short in height and long, the wall may buckle at the sides, so we need to break the linearity by introducing short pillars as vertical members. The top surface will receive rain, which has to be properly closed to stop any water penetration. This can be achieved by tapering the top, fixing a piece of long stone slab, placing cement mortar covering the top surface in a single stretch of coping band or by any other such methods. Rain water hits the ground and splashes backwards to the lower surfaces of the compound wall, necessitating a strategy for easy maintenance.
In the open…
Being exposed to the vagaries of nature – the rain, sun and wind – compound walls tend to crack, shrink and discolour much faster than any other wall. Naturally they tend to appear old and unattractive very fast, requiring corrective measures in advance. The idea of a wall is primarily to demarcate the inside from outside and not necessarily stop people from jumping over. Of course, it may stop stray animals from crossing over, but that is among the minor advantages and does not warrant such a heavy expenditure.
Let us keep the compound wall to the minimum height required; provide it with openings to avoid the solid negative appearance; design it suggestively as the frontal frame of the house; match it with the building by material, colour or design style; make it simple yet elegant looking. In many ways, these walls are a design opportunity towards constructing a creative wall and an artistic edifice in front of a meaningful building.