How much do architectural façades cost?

Anyone who is aware of the huge range of architectural façades on modern buildings will recognise this is an almost impossible question.

In a nutshell...

  • The cost of architectural façades will vary considerably depending on the design
  • Expanded mesh is often the most cost-effective option
  • Solid, perforated and laser-cut panels offer endless design possibilities – at a greater cost
  • 3D façades are often the most expensive
  • The cost of coatings, brackets and fixings, and support structures need to be considered too
  • For an accurate costing, it’s important to talk to a façade specialist from Day One

Nevertheless, we’ll do what we can to help. First up, the basics...

Architectural façades are often used on the exterior of hotels, hospitals and office blocks but are increasingly seen on multi-storey car parks and data centres. Although some façades have performance qualities (to allow natural light and ventilation into a building, or cut out noise or light pollution from within) they’re mainly designed to look great.

Expanded mesh, perforated panels, laser-cut shapes, twisted fins and 3D creations, combined with the expertise of façade specialists, produce infinite design possibilities.

Architectural mesh façades are common on multi-storey car parks. Expanded mesh is often the most cost-effective option but that doesn’t mean compromising on design. Coloured powder-coating, anodising or inverting the panel can elevate mesh from the norm.

Solid panels are cost-effective to manufacture, especially if standard sheet sizes are specified. Many façades use different coloured panels for visual impact.

Perforated panels have many benefits. The holes can create intriguing patterns and designs, aid ventilation and reduce panel weight. However, perforated panels may lose some structural integrity, and require bespoke (and costly) stiffeners. That said, solid panels over 800mm will need stiffeners too.

Vertical fin projects start with an easy question? Aluminium or timber? Then it gets tricky. How many fins and what size? Larger blades may be more expensive and require more robust support systems and fixings. Ultimately, it’s a balancing act involving multiple variables.

Laser-cut panels are the mainstay of some of the most striking façades in the world today. But depending on the complexity of design, installation may need to be millimetre-perfect (and time-consuming). And remember what we said about stiffeners on panels – it’s important to make they don’t obscure an important part of the visual design.

3D façades are top-end, no question. More materials, extra support work, and more robust brackets and fixings to absorb wind loads... they’re just some of the considerations. Façade specialists will cost every project on a one-off basis.

When it comes to assessing the costs of an architectural façade, there will be other variables to consider.

  • Powder-coating is less expensive than anodising (which rises in cost from standard silver through the bronze range to blue-grey). However, powder-coating doesn’t currently achieve full A1 fire rating.
  • Some façades need to be installed further from the building’s core structural steelwork – say to accommodate impact barrier deflection on a multi-storey car park. Here, longer and more expensive brackets will be required.
  • Consider the distance between floors too. Will extra steelwork or supports be required?

What next?

If you’ve read this far, you’ll probably have realised the importance of talking to a façade specialist from day one – and long before. Collaborating pre-construction, pre-tender, pre-planning and preferably pre-design can achieve significant cost savings.

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