The facades of a building visible from a street play an important role in contributing to the amenity and attractiveness of an area. Facades should therefore be designed to have a pleasing scale and appearance, proportion and rhythm, solid-to-void relationship and materiality. Care and attention should be given to their design to ensure the building stands up to critical observation from near and afar. All building elevations must be considered and designed as an integral part of the overall development.
A building façade refers to one side, normally the front side of a building structure. It is one of the most integral pieces to the overall design of the structure, as it adds a unique personality and character to it. A building façade can be of several shapes and sizes. It is one of those pieces of the structure that provides the architect with the chance to experiment and showcase their talent and bring their creations to life.
Now and then, people associate façade with older buildings or the prestigious ones, but today every building can create a recognisable façade. In addition to that, people even link a façade with something that only adds to the aesthetic factor of a building structure. But that’s not all it does! Yes, the importance of a façade in architecture is much more than that.
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What Is a Facade?
When we look at different kinds of buildings, we may have very different reactions to them. Some are tall and imposing, with massive arched doorways and towering spires. Others are welcoming, perhaps with a large porch or wide windows. How these building entrances look is no accident. Someone designed them with a lot of attention to their front facade.
A facade is the exterior wall or face of a building, and it usually involves design elements like the deliberate placement of windows or doors. Depending on architectural style, these elements have a certain order to them. While the word “facade” can signify any external wall of a building with a design element, it often refers to the front wall with an entrance. Often, the front facade has more elaborate or special architectural treatment than the rest of the structure. A facade can be imposing, decorative, or rather simple.
An Introduction To Façade Of Future
The design of façades that does not become obsolete in the upcoming future and gels perfectly with the building interiors as well as creates a reflection of its exteriors is the need of the hour. They hold a strategic position in the environmental performances of buildings. They are a representation of its quality that creates an everlasting impact on the end-users or the passers-by. It forms the barrier between the internal space and the external climate and acts as the medium of interaction between the activities taking place at both ends. The image of a building, and therefore for the users is a reflection of its façade design.
It has been seen that in recent practices, architects and engineers have been strategically designing and installing dynamic façades to enhance the aesthetic values, at the same time taking measures for improving the buildings’ energy performance. The concept of ‘environmental planning’ is raising the bars of thinking about the future of these façades where environmental sustainability is of paramount importance. Eco-friendly and sustainable architecture is not a fashion design concept anymore, but it is the only way to deal with architecture today. This poses an important question, as to what are the energy requirements and those new products for the façade design that comply with the requirements of energy.
The Importance Of Building Facade in Architecture
Facades are the face of a building, and this part of the building envelope serves several purposes. Let’s discuss the most prominent ones:
Adds Personality & Character
Ok, this had to be number one. A building façade is an opportunity to put the emphasis on design. There is ‘n’ number of buildings that settle for standard designs and perfectly meet the structural regulations but always lack their identity, character, and personality. A Façade can play a huge role in this as it imparts that uniqueness to the structure which negates the detrimental effect of the building, which lacks that something special.
Plays A Pivotal Role In Energy Efficiency
In addition to being aesthetically pleasing, a façade plays a pivotal role in energy efficiency and linking the exterior to the interiors of the building. Façade can help in significantly reducing energy bills. You may think how, well, a façade minimises solar gain, which in turn, reduces the cooling loads of the building which at the results in minimal energy bills.
Shield Against Natural Elements
A Façade protects the occupants from wind and rain and the extremes of temperature and humidity. Façades are incredibly popular for its resistance to temperature, weathering, and corrosion, which over many decades is a valuable characteristic.
Ensures Natural Ventilation
A façade essentially is the external skin of the building. And the protection provided by the external skin, confirms natural ventilation. This is achieved through various means, like design aspects, cavity skins, and mechanised windows. Also, a façade ensures the occupant’s comfort isn’t compromised during harsh climatic conditions like wind, rain, and snow.
Provides Acoustic Insulation
A well-designed façade external skin provides a high degree of acoustic comfort to its occupants as compared to a conventional building façade. Acoustic comfort in no ways compromises the required ventilation, air exchange and visual connection with the exterior.
Offers Comfort And Adds Productivity
A successfully designed building façade system empowers the occupants to regulate light penetration by several methods, like louvres or shading devices. In addition to this, it also allows the regulation of air movement and temperature with operable windows, which increases the overall buildings comfort levels. When comfort levels peak, better work productivity is pretty evident.
Provides Extra Security
A good façade system provides a comparatively unobtrusive method of attaining building security by right planning and treating the building openings as opposed to the conventional system of grills and bars.
Adds Life To The Structure
Facades are the outcome of sophisticated technology and advanced manufacturing processes which means they are highly resistant to the exterior environment. When compared to the commonly used exterior paints, these can look smudgy, attract dirt and dust, facades, are sturdy and weather-resistant, these powers make them highly durable hence they last for decades. In addition to that, with innovations in materials, ideas, and design, a building façade is continuing to unlock several opportunities for buildings.
Choosing The Right Building Façade
Getting façade construction right is extremely important as they can considerably affect the structures lighting, heating, and ventilation. While there are many factors which require consideration in building façade, one of the most daunting one is – Choosing The Right Material. Also, your decision on the right façade material needs to be made after considering a range of factors like:
- Energy Efficiency
- Aesthetics & Texture
Clay Façade – The Magical Façade Material
Clay facades are nothing but the panels made of terracotta that can be added on the exterior walls or facade of any building. These are environmentally friendly and tough modern facade which enhance the value and the design aspect of the building structure. Clay façades are not only beautiful to look at but also have many advantages over the other facade materials, here is a quick snapshot:
Terracotta tiles used for exterior walls are tested for high strength and safety and hence are the apt material that can be used for exterior walls of homes, offices and even public buildings. Their weather resistance power makes them highly durable, which last for decades.
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They are the outcome of sophisticated technology and advanced firing processes, hence, are highly resistant to the exterior environment. Clay facades can retain their colour for a longer period of time, and since they are made of terracotta, they do not have any calcium leakages nor efflorescence effect.
These are made of natural resources like clay, hence are the best fit for building sustainable buildings.
Clay is a natural thermal insulator, and along with that, a combined benefit of ventilated façade increases the insulation further. Clay facades help to keep the heat away from entering inside the building and help to maintain a comfortable indoor climate naturally.
Once installed, these are very easy on maintenance. They can easily prevent rattling of the panels, and their indigenous system provided for rainwater drainage helps in preventing soiling, which results in low maintenance.
Very easy to fix as there is no use of sealants or rout. In addition to that, it also helps in overcoming uneven surfaces and appearance of cracks on the walls.
This is one of the major benefits of using clay facades as these are fired at exceptionally high temperatures which make them fire-resistant.
Clay facades provide a contemporary look to the building, and they come in a variety of colours to suit the overall design concept of the building.
Clay façade is becoming the first choice of modern architects who want to leave their environment-friendly thumbprint in the world.
Dynamic Modern Exterior Treatments
The word ‘facade’ implies illusion, and that can be true even when it’s used to refer to the faces of buildings, as secondary structures wrap around them like veils, obscuring their true form and creating dazzling displays of light and shadow like a distracting sleight of hand. Some facades disguise the original building in the form of low-impact renovation, while others are kinetic, opening and closing or rippling in the wind.
Geometric Planter Facade
The exterior of the Firma Casa store in São Paulo, Brazil, which promotes young Brazilian furniture designers, gets an appropriately hip and modern look with the addition of a screen of geometric vases. Three thousand five hundred individual planters hold 9,000 seedlings and project slightly out from the exterior walls, keeping soil and water away from them for a relatively low-impact and low-budget green wall solution.
Roll-Up Facade Forms Canopy
Incredibly simple, yet unusual enough to stop you in your tracks on the street, this facade uses ordinary materials with an unexpected twist. Tokyo-based studio Ninkipen! made this contemporary white home stand out from its neighbours with a peeling facade that rolls up slightly from the ground level to create an awning for the garage.
Undulating Facade of Fins Looks Like Swimming Fish
The angled steel fins enveloping the Industrial Technology Research Institute at the Central Taiwan Innovation & Research Park is intended to recall the look of a school of fish swimming in synchronicity. Noiz Architects customised the opacity of the screen according to the function going on inside each particular area of the building, since some research areas, exhibition spaces, greenhouses, cafes and other programs require different degrees of sunlight. This veil-like screen is separate from the building itself, making for easy repairs and additions and occasionally stretching out to create indoor/outdoor spaces.
Kinetic Parking Garage Facade
One hundred eighteen thousand suspended aluminium panels gently flap in the wind, creating textures reminiscent of flowing textiles and rippling water. Designed by artist Ned Kahn and fixed to the exterior of the Brisbane Airport parking garage in Australia, the kinetic facade reacts to its natural environment, constantly changing as it provides shade and ventilation for the interior.
Perforated Shutters on a Concrete Home
All street-facing and neighbour-visible windows on the ‘May Grove’ residence in Melbourne by Jackson Clements Burrows can be covered with perforated shutters integrated right into the facade, or opened when the inhabitants want a clear view. Not only do they control ventilation and privacy for this low-cost modern home, but they also create a play of light and shadow throughout the interior during the day.
Better Design Practice
Follow building lines and setbacks.
A common building line creates a continuity of building frontages and provides definition and enclosure of the street. This enhances the public realm and assists in integrating a new building into an existing built environment. Where buildings are set back, ensure the resulting outdoor spaces are useable and attractive.
Design facades to have a pleasing scale, proportion and rhythm, and solid-to-void relationship.
Ensure facades contribute to an interesting and lively public realm by incorporating:
- frequent doors and windows, with few blank walls
- narrow frontage buildings to give a more vertical rhythm
- projections and voids through the use of bay windows, balconies and porches
- lively internal uses visible from the exterior or projecting outside
- the use of materials and details that show care in design and execution; consider the treatment of the base, middle and top in the overall facade composition.
Use features such as sun shading, light shelves and bay windows to provide natural light to occupants and create an attractive, articulated facade.
Extruding and recessed balconies are an additional method of solar control which provide shading and articulation.
Extruding and recessed balconies provide outdoor access while simultaneously creating appropriate levels of shading for indoor areas.
Create facades with richness – when viewed from both near and afar.
“The number and composition of elements on the building’s facade, and the contrasting relationships between them – as viewed from near and far – determine the visual quality and interest. Great urban architecture requires that at every scale, from a range of viewing distances, a building’s surface appears rich in detail” (Llewelyn Davies Yeang, Urban Design Compendium).
Balconies should be an integral consideration when designing facades.
Balconies, as well as corner windows and bay windows, can be used to articulate facades and improve passive surveillance. Recessed balconies should be opted for where possible because they provide better privacy, better weather protection and a more attractive form of architectural articulation than cantilevered balconies.
Enclosed balconies may be appropriate in certain locations, particularly when noise or prevailing winds are an issue. They should be designed to have the same qualities as an external balcony:
- the majority of glazing should be sliding, to allow the space to be opened up
- enough space should be provided for a table and chairs
- floor cladding should be weather resistant
- balconies should act as a direct extension of the main internal living area.
Recessed balconies should be opted for where possible because they provide better privacy, better weather protection and better architectural articulation and facade depth than cantilevered balconies.
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Think about the back of the building.
The rear facade is often highly visible, especially when the development is taller than surrounding buildings. The rear is usually where services and gallery access (a corridor with one side open to the exterior) are located. These need to be carefully considered to ensure they do not detract from the aesthetic of the building.
- Design gallery access as an integral part of the building – includes screening and elements which visually integrate the gallery within the façade. Additional width around stairs and lifts can become informal social spaces. Additional width in the gallery will help with privacy issues when dwelling windows directly abut gallery spaces.
- Balconies on the rear elevation need to be spaced appropriately to prevent overlooking between apartments. Screening and opaque barriers can help to improve privacy.
- Any blank walls should include changes in materials, patterns, colours or other design elements to provide some visual variation.
Thus the façade brings the building to life and is a Medium of Experience for the users in and around the building providing the opportunity to create a character and giving a persona to a building that highlights its character. Though it should be attractive; living with time but the façade isn’t just an aesthetic element; it’s an essential parameter for building performance along with being a significant contributor to the energy conservation and comfort parameters.
A caringly designed facade can make a building work more efficiently for the owners, occupants, and environment. In addition to that, it has the power to transform the performance of an existing building. Façade is an interface between the interior space and exterior environment, as a building skin, it plays a crucial role in heat, light, and air exchange. However, its performance depends on choosing the right material and getting it correctly installed. To get façade installation right Get In Touch with us.