Facade

Facade

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Encyclopedia
A facade or façade is generally one exterior side of a building
Building
In architecture, construction, engineering, real estate development and technology the word building may refer to one of the following:...

, usually, but not always, the front. The word comes from the French language
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

, literally meaning "frontage
Frontage
Frontage is the full length of a plot of land or a building measured alongside the road on to which the plot or building fronts. This is considered especially important for certain types of commercial and retail real estate, in applying zoning bylaws and property tax...

" or "face
Face
The face is a central sense organ complex, for those animals that have one, normally on the ventral surface of the head, and can, depending on the definition in the human case, include the hair, forehead, eyebrow, eyelashes, eyes, nose, ears, cheeks, mouth, lips, philtrum, temple, teeth, skin, and...

".

In architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, the facade of a building is often the most important from a design standpoint, as it sets the tone for the rest of the building. Many facades are historic
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, and local zoning
Zoning
Zoning is a device of land use planning used by local governments in most developed countries. The word is derived from the practice of designating permitted uses of land based on mapped zones which separate one set of land uses from another...

 regulations or other laws greatly restrict or even forbid their alteration.

Etymology


The word comes from the French word façade, which in turn comes from the Italian facciata, from faccia meaning face, ultimately from Vulgar Latin facia. The earliest recorded use of the word is from 1681.

Georgian facades added to earlier buildings


It was quite common in the Georgian
Georgian architecture
Georgian architecture is the name given in most English-speaking countries to the set of architectural styles current between 1720 and 1840. It is eponymous for the first four British monarchs of the House of Hanover—George I of Great Britain, George II of Great Britain, George III of the United...

 period for existing houses in English towns to be given a fashionable new facade. For example in the city of Bath The Bunch of Grapes in Westgate Street appears to be a Georgian building but the appearance is only skin deep and some of the interior rooms still have Jacobean
Jacobean architecture
The Jacobean style is the second phase of Renaissance architecture in England, following the Elizabethan style. It is named after King James I of England, with whose reign it is associated.-Characteristics:...

 plasterwork ceilings.

Highrise facades


In modern highrise buildings, the exterior walls are often suspended from the concrete floor slabs. Examples include curtain wall
Curtain wall
A curtain wall is an outer covering of a building in which the outer walls are non-structural, but merely keep out the weather. As the curtain wall is non-structural it can be made of a lightweight material reducing construction costs. When glass is used as the curtain wall, a great advantage is...

s and precast concrete walls. The facade can at times be required to have a fire-resistance rating
Fire-resistance rating
A fire-resistance rating typically means the duration for which a passive fire protection system can withstand a standard fire resistance test. This can be quantified simply as a measure of time, or it may entail a host of other criteria, involving other evidence of functionality or fitness for...

, for instance, if two buildings are very close together, to lower the likelihood of fire spreading from one building to another. In general, the facade systems that are suspended or attached to the precast concrete slabs will be made from aluminium
Aluminium
Aluminium or aluminum is a silvery white member of the boron group of chemical elements. It has the symbol Al, and its atomic number is 13. It is not soluble in water under normal circumstances....

 (powdercoated or anodized) or stainless steel
Stainless steel
In metallurgy, stainless steel, also known as inox steel or inox from French "inoxydable", is defined as a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5 or 11% chromium content by mass....

. In recent years more lavish materials such as titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

 have sometimes been used, but due to their cost and susceptibility to panel edge staining
Panel Edge Staining
Panel edge staining is a naturally occurring problem that occurs to anodized aluminium and stainless steel paneling and facades. It is semi-permanent staining that dulls the panel or facades surface , reducing the natural luster and shine produced by the anodizing processes used on the aluminium...

 these have not been popular.

Whether rated or not, fire protection
Fire protection
Fire protection is the study and practice of mitigating the unwanted effects of fires. It involves the study of the behaviour, compartmentalisation, suppression and investigation of fire and its related emergencies, as well as the research and development, production, testing and application of...

 is always a design consideration. The melting point of aluminium, 660°C, is typically reached within minutes of the start of a fire. Firestop
Firestop
A firestop is a passive fire protection system of various components used to seal openings and joints in fire-resistance rated wall and/or floor assemblies, based on fire testing and certification listings....

s for such building joints
Joint (building)
A building joint is a junction where building elements meet without applying a static load from one element to another. When one or more of these vertical or horizontal elements that meet are required by the local building code to have a fire-resistance rating, the resulting opening that makes up...

 can be qualified, too. Putting fire sprinkler systems on each floor has a profoundly positive effect on the fire safety of buildings with curtain walls.

Some building code
Building code
A building code, or building control, is a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects such as buildings and nonbuilding structures. The main purpose of building codes are to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the...

s also limit the percentage of window area in exterior walls. When the exterior wall is not rated, the perimeter slab edge becomes a junction where rated slabs are abutting an unrated wall. For rated walls, one may also choose rated windows and fire door
Fire door
A fire door is a door with a fire-resistance rating used as part of a passive fire protection system to reduce the spread of fire or smoke between compartments and to enable safe egress from a building or structure or ship...

s, to maintain that wall's rating.

Film sets and theme parks


On a film set
Set construction
Set construction is the process by which a set designer works in collaboration with the director of a production to create the set for a theatrical, film or television production...

 and within most themed attractions, many of the buildings are only facades, which are far cheaper than actual buildings, and not subject to building code
Building code
A building code, or building control, is a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects such as buildings and nonbuilding structures. The main purpose of building codes are to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the...

s (within film sets). In film sets, they are simply held up with supports from behind, and sometimes have boxes for actors to step in and out of from the front if necessary for a scene. Within theme parks, they are usually decoration for the interior ride/attraction/restaurant, which is based on a simple building design.

See also

  • Curtain wall
    Curtain wall
    A curtain wall is an outer covering of a building in which the outer walls are non-structural, but merely keep out the weather. As the curtain wall is non-structural it can be made of a lightweight material reducing construction costs. When glass is used as the curtain wall, a great advantage is...

  • Double-skin facade
    Double-skin facade
    The Double Skin Façade is a system consisting of two skins placed in such a way that air flows in the intermediate cavity. The ventilation of the cavity can be natural, fan supported or mechanical...

  • Facadism
    Facadism
    Façadism is the practice of demolishing a building but leaving its facade intact for the purposes of building new structures in it or around it....

  • Potemkin village
    Potemkin village
    Potemkin villages or Potyomkin villages is an idiom based on a historical myth. According to the myth, there were fake settlements purportedly erected at the direction of Russian minister Grigory Potemkin to fool Empress Catherine II during her visit to Crimea in 1787...

  • Wood facade

Further reading


The article outlines the development of the façade in ecclesiatical architecture from the early Christian period to the Renaissance.