It is often said that “Looks do Matter” and this is very true when it comes to the building facades too. The word ‘façade’ originates from the Italian word “facciata” and it means the exterior or the faces of a building. The façade on any building has 2 main functions. Firstly they act as a barrier or skin that separates the interior face from the external environment and secondly, they create an image of the building. And hence façade design is a very important aspect of a building.

The World Towers
The World Towers

Building façade or the skins plays a pivotal role in architecture. They determine the aesthetic appearance of a building, and its relationship with the surrounding context, and they are the interface between the built and human dimensions of our cities. They often dynamically mediate between the indoor and outdoor environments.

With the changing times architecture and façade design have also changed and people are becoming more and more conscious about the environment they stay and work. Be it their houses/ apartments/workspaces or business premises everything matters to all from children to the youth, to the adults and the old generation. There is a sense of ownership one carries for their houses and workspaces and the building facades play a crucial role in this. Buildings today are no longer considered boxes or just functional spaces as it is here where people interact, grow, create memories, and live their lives.

The building façade, be it for a residential apartment or a commercial building, is the calling card of the project as it is the most iconic, one of the most aesthetic and recognisable elements that help create an identity of the building. With more and more globalization, a lot of focus has been seen on ESG and Sustainability by various companies, stakeholders & governing bodies. There is a lot of focus on IGBC, USGBC, LEED, WELL, and EDGE certifications of the building where façade design becomes a very crucial element of the building design.

Spectrum Apartments – Box Hill, Australia
Spectrum Apartments – Box Hill, Australia

WHY FAÇADES ARE IMPORTANT?

Broadly the façade design should be addressed with the following characteristics.

Adding a Character to a Building: The building façade could be a derivative of the local architecture, create a new identity of its own or be a result of a climate-responsive design.

Bilbao Museum, Guggenheim, Spain
Bilbao Museum, Guggenheim, Spain

Natural Ventilation: If intelligently designed and executed façade could also help natural ventilation to the buildings and help reduce ventilation costs and improve the well-being of the users. E.g. The Jali’s used in the traditional buildings in Jaipur like Hawa Mahal and the modern-day version of the same can be seen in the PAM centre in Malaysia.

Act as a barrier against the external environment: The interiors of the building are protected from the rain/sun/wind. There are buildings which have smart façades where the façade as a whole or some elements such as fins and shades move or rotate basis the change in local climate during different times.

Energy Efficiency: Today when we speak highly of ESG, Human Well-being, and Sustainability, the façade design plays a very important role here. The façade, apart from being aesthetic, also has to address the issue of energy efficiency. A good climatic responsive façade can help reduce the solar heat gain and reduce cooling requirements thus reducing the HVAC cost in terms of the CAPEX and OPEX. A lot of research has been done on this including biophilic design, Vertical greens, glass selection and other façade elements like sunshades, fins, canopies, and multi-level terraces to increase the energy efficiency of the buildings.

Human Comfort and Wellbeing: A good climatic responsive and successfully implemented façade has a deep impact on the occupants of the building. Carefully designed façade that allows light and natural ventilation through various design elements such as louvers, courtyards, terraces, shading devices and automated façade systems that help regulation of the air and light movement through the structure and have a positive impact on the occupants. It impacts their mental well-being and physical well-being too. This in turn results in better productivity and results.

IMI International Management Institute
IMI International Management Institute

Aesthetics: While façades are often referred as to the skins, they add an aesthetic appeal to the buildings. Interesting facades with distinctive features, a splash of colours, layers and elements add a lot of visual appeal and appreciation to the building. Buildings with unique features often become local or global landmarks for the way they have been designed and add a lot of value to the structure itself and the neighbourhood too at times.

Extended Life and Value: Facades that are carefully designed can also influence the life and valuations of the buildings. The use of innovative materials, shading devices, unique systems, sustainable designs and a pop of colours is what brings structures to life and shall help extend the life and value of the building. The extended life and value in terms translates to higher yields for the people associated with the buildings whether they are the developers, the owners, or the occupants. Today when we see such buildings around us, they bring a sense of pride to the developers, consultants, and contractors associated with building these structures, the companies (including local as well as Global MNCs) who buy/lease these and the end user who actually use it on a day-to-day basis. There are various examples where we see that buildings which have aesthetically pleasing façade easily demand more rents or selling prices with their competitors which are similar in nature. E.g. The World Towers by Lodha developers in Mumbai.

DIFFERENT OPTIONS FOR ENHANCING FACADES:

Brandhorst Museum – Munich, Germany
Brandhorst Museum – Munich, Germany

Invest in High-Quality Materials: Be it a residential or a commercial building, the use of durable and long-lasting materials adds life to it. The use of high-quality materials brings a sense of luxury to the buildings. Modern-day buildings use modern technology and materials to create an amazing façade. E.g. The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao.

Colour, Texture, Pattern:

Adding a splash of colours, certain textures and patterns can make the façade very interesting and create an ever-lasting memory for developers and the occupants of the building. A unified and aesthetically beautiful facade can be achieved by selecting a colour scheme that compliments the architectural design and the surrounding area. Contrarily, the texture gives the exterior depth and intrigue. E.g.: IMI International Management Institute – Kolkata, India & Brandhorst Museum – Munich, Germany.

  1. Kuggen Building – Gothenburg, Sweden
    Kuggen Building – Gothenburg, Sweden

    Interesting façade elements: Various façade elements such as curved walls, fins, and colours can bring drama to the building façade and enhance the building design. e.g. Kuggen Building – Gothenburg, Sweden.

With rapid globalization, Gen X and Gen Y who are well travelled and who have the world at their fingertips their choices of homes, workplaces and other spaces of interaction are largely and deeply driven by the pointers mentioned above. They should not be referred to “as spoiled for choices” but for “wise decisions” they make. And to conclude “LOOKS DO MATTER”.

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