What are the main types of architectural façades?

Architectural façades have become an important aesthetic component of modern buildings.

In a nutshell...

  • Architectural façades are aesthetic features on the outside of buildings
  • They can also provide solar shading, improve energy efficiency and act as the outer skin on rainscreen cladding systems
  • On multi-storey car parks, architectural façades cut out noise or light pollution from within, while allowing fresh air to enter
  • Panel façades are solid, perforated (or laser-cut) or expanded mesh
  • Vertical fins and twisted aluminium fins are also common

They often have some practical qualities, such as enhancing solar shading performance, improving energy efficiency or acting as the outer skin on rainscreen cladding systems. On multi-storey car parks, they can cut out noise or light pollution from within, while allowing fresh air to enter.

However, architects these days are typically designing architectural façades with one simple thing in mind – to look great.

In fact, there’s lots of evidence to suggest that the design of façades can influence how people react to a building – to the point where it can have a big effect on our mental and emotional state, and on our feeling of wellbeing.

An architectural façade is also likely to be a big part of a building’s construction cost, so getting it right is important. That’s why the top façade companies work closely with architects and contractors from the initial design concept stage to final installation.

So, lots to think about. First, though, lets take a look at the main types of façade.

Solid panel façades

Cost-effective and easy-to-install aluminium panels are commonly used to cloak a building to hide the sub-structure and provide visual impact through shape or colour variation. However, other materials, such as terracotta, GRC and Corten steel are also used.

Perforated panel façades

Perforated (or laser cut) panels create custom designs or repeating patterns on a façade. They protect the interior from the elements, while allowing natural light and ventilation. It’s important to seek advice from specialists about the size of holes in the panels – get it wrong and it could affect the integrity of the panels or lead to ‘whistling’.

Expanded mesh façades

Metal is cut and stretched to create a mesh-like material in a relatively simple process (with minimal waste). Practical, cost-effective and potentially visually appealing. While not bespoke, panels come with different patterns, created by the shape and size of the ‘eyelet’. It’s also possible to powder-coat or anodise panels in a range of colours.

Linear façades

Vertical fins in aluminium or timber span the face of a building. Similar to brise soleil systems, they offer limited solar protection and are installed mainly to provide architectural interest. However, they can help car parks meet environmental standards by providing ventilation to disperse exhaust fumes and prevent glare from car headlights disturbing neighbours.

Twisted fin façades

Thin aluminium blades are twisted to create intriguing 3D shapes that catch the light and create a sense of texture and movement across a building façade. Twisted fins require special spring-loaded brackets to keep them under tension (so they retain their shape and strength) and to absorb any building movement.

Other types of architectural façades

The main types of architectural façades provide endless design possibilities. Even the most innovative 3D façades on modern buildings often start life as solid or perforated panels. Living walls (or green walls) are also becoming popular and are often incorporated into a panel façade design and share the same support structure.

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