Facade in Architecture :Living building component?

What does Facade in architecture mean? Even though it literally translates into ‘frontage’ or ‘face’, does it really have in it something more? We know that in buildings, facades have been around since long. However, has the equation changed in contemporary architecture practices?

Facade in Architecture through the times

The traditional facades always have design as the main point of consideration. While construction, the respective engineer/architect definitely paid more attention to the overall appearance of the facade and its effect on the building.

For example, take any medieval building. Be it the eastern facade of the Romer (Frankfurt, Germany) or the Cathedral Church of Milan (Italy), facade in architecture typically stood for its visual dominance. 

However, with time, practices started changing. Architects and engineers started playing with the idea of making the facade in architecture more functional and holistic. And that shaped the idea of specifying the nature of facade in terms of exactly what it stands for.

There are many things to consider when you decide on a particular facade for a particular building. Some of these are

  • the location of building,
  • the geographic characteristics,
  • the built of structure,
  • the function of the building,
  • the nature & hours of occupation and
  • the most suitable facade in architecture.

However, the advance in technology has given a whole new dimension to the process of deciding facade for a building. These days, more than the material based options, it is the function based facade types that are more in demand.

Facade in architecture, these days, is evolving into an active building component. And that is why when you search for a facade system, you may come across variants that may flaunt the term ‘dynamic’, ‘living’, ‘kinetic’, ‘static’ or ‘intelligent’. 

Facade in architecture: Dynamic facade 

A dynamic facade is interchangeably used with the term kinetic facade. No matter what term you use, it basically refers to a type of facade that stays as an extension of the original structure. And the best way to express it is to tag it as the ‘skin’ of the building.

Dynamic facade in architecture has found huge impressions in the form of the Homeostatic Building facade (by Decker Yedon) or the Sunbreak facade system (by the firm NBBJ).

Also, one can see the user-manipulative dynamic facade being a huge advantage- the user controls the operation of such systems. One such delightful structure is the Keifer Technic Showroom (by Ernst Gieselbrecht and Partner), located in Austria.

And then, there is the play with lights, in light projection Dynamic facades. The Galleria CenterCity by UN Studio successfully exhibits the concept of creating an optical illusion by cleverly arranging facade elements and applying light projection onto them.

Apart from these, there are the light control dynamic facade (like in the south facade of Institut de Monde Arabe) and wind control dynamic facade (Brisbane Domestic Terminal Carpark, Australia) that have stirred the contemporary architecture  for the better.

Facade in Architecture: Living facade

Besides the different types of dynamic facades, there is this concept of Green or Living facades. Of course, a living facade is plush with suitable vegetation. The benefits of incorporating plants and foliage remains one attractive feature for this type of facade.

Not only does such a facade impart shade to the elevation, but it also ensures a cooler and oxygen rich air circulation through the building. Also, such vertical patches creates a vibrancy in the otherwise dull concrete urban landscapes. Moreover, there are many plants that absorb harmful pollutants and formaldehyde, thus purifying the atmosphere.

Facade in Architecture: Dynamic through materials

These days, there are photo voltaic glasses- that act as solar cells to regenerate power using sunlight. These make a good substitute to the otherwise plain glass facade. Glass reinforced fiber plastics, PTPEs, PTFEs all are being worked upon to make them more advantageous for the structure than they already are. 

Facade in architecture is one element that can add charms and function to an existing structure. At the end of the day, it all boils down to how one merges both in a meaningful manner.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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