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Buildings Get a Facelift: Architectural Facade Trends











These days, however, there is a push on for a change in the ways in which façades are designed.

“Not since the early pioneering days has the façade industry been so challenged to innovate,” says Mic Patterson, director of strategic development for façade engineering and curtainwall design company Enclos.

The driving forces behind this industry-wide innovation are volatile energy prices, climate change, depletion of carbon-based energy resources, an increase in green and sustainable building practices and urban population growth.

Across the academic, industry and professional fields, increased attention is being paid to building skin technology which has both aesthetic and functional appeal.

Increased innovation in the design of building façades was recently brought about by a pull from design teams for better performing materials.

“The constructionmarketplace has been dominated for decades by the push, with newly available products and technologies often slowly adopted by building design teams,” Patterson says.

He notes that, despite the emergence of structural framing practices and lightweight building materials making novel approaches possible, traditional masonry infill walls continued for decades. The current dynamic shift is resulting in an increase in façade innovation.

montreal architecture facade

montreal architecture facade

Some trends in the recent wave of innovative facades include:

Glass – Glass remains omnipresent in most building façades for obvious reasons like visibility and lighting. Though it performs badly in blast and impact situations and is a poor acoustic and thermal insulator, designers can’t go without it.

Predictions for the use of glass remain high. Owners and occupants love glass for its aesthetic appeal with floor-to-ceiling glass walls still in high demand. Glass building façades bring in higher lease rates and generally experience higher occupancy rates.

Shape Shifting – parametric modeling tools like Grasshopper and Rhinoceros will continue to fuel building facades with unique geometric complexity.

Security Glazed Façades – Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and destruction caused by humans have made safety concerns a main consideration in building façades with safety and durability outweighing quirky new designs in many regions.

Daylighting – The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program encourages the practice of daylighting. The use of natural light reduces electricity consumption and creates healthier work environments. Increasing in popularity, the practice requires good designs to eliminate glare issues.

Building Integrated Photovoltaics (BIPV) – What should be a bustling market venture is still slightly cost-prohibitive, but the use of these materials is on the rise. Photovoltaic materials generate power by using semiconductors to convert solar radiation into direct current electricity. Photovoltaic materials replace conventional building materials such as façades, skylights or the building’s roof.

The use of LED lights in the form of wall stripes and wall washers will continue to be used, outlining building contours or lighting up an entire wall surface making the building visible at night. Wall washers are increasingly being used in entertainment buildings or in advertisements, as they are able to project a range of colours and shapes across a building’s façade.


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