The word facade originally comes from the Italian word facciat. and is defined as the outside or all of the external facades of a building. The term is frequently used to refer just to the primary or front face of a house.
It also protects against these risks while helping to achieve lower energy consumption, reduce maintenance costs, and improve comfort.
Nowadays, it is an essential building part in terms of performances and architectural designs. It is not only the aesthetics that make the façade so significant.
Parameters such as complexity, materials and finishes, performance, and magnitude and location of the projects, the façade can account for anything between 20% and 30% of the total construction costs.
That also represents substantial parts of the technical and commercial risk on any given project. Being the barrier between the outdoor climate outside and the conditioned interior determines the building's appearance, and its performances rely on appropriate specification, designs, and delivery of a multitude of components and systems.
The façade/structures interfaces are the perfect examples of different systems engineered together "where things always go wrong." Successful projects generally depend on a high degree of collaboration across the design team and throughout the supply chain.
The people dealing with the architectural building envelope are usually referred to as façade engineers, becoming significantly crucial as part of each building project team appointed to design and deliver challenging, complex architectural envelope designs.
What is facade engineering?
But what is facade engineering? According to the Society of Facade Engineers (SFE), Façade Engineering is the art of resolving aesthetic, environmental, and structural issues to achieve the enclosure of habitable space.
There are numerous equally valid definitions apart from this one, but the essential point here is the fact that façade engineering bridges across the more traditional disciplines that are architecture, structure, and services.
A qualified façade engineer inevitably has to address the professionals' differences in backgrounds and responsibilities across a varied section of the building construction industry.
The beauty of facade engineering is that to various stages of the execution procedure. Architects can carry it out in architectural practices by engineers in consulting firms and expert technicians in different supply chain stages.
Usually, the range of services constituting façade engineering is exemplified by the difference between, on the one hand, the design and specification of a bespoke solution, and on the other, the checking of a contractor's design against a specification.
There is also a marked difference between guidance on commercially available (standard) curtain walling systems and the bespoke engineering of a solution in response to an architectural vision and a set of client's requirements.
Façade engineering covers this significant 'grey area' between the more traditional disciplines carried out for so many years and overlaps significantly with them.
Many architectural firms nowadays have a 'façade guy or a 'specialist' or an 'experienced colleague, who serves as the in-house façade engineer within certain limits set by the scope of the Architect's work.
While there is a significant element of global trends and exportation of technology from the more developed markets, any project must be delivered according to local standards, if any, and in a competitive market. Therefore, the installation of building envelopes is typically handled by a local workforce.
This combination of increasing global demand for façade systems and local differences in procurement and design procedures means that Façade Engineering means different things. That's where 'one size fits all definition of façade engineering comes out wrong.
With this in mind, façade engineering has been developed from a fast-growing industry to a must-have in its own right, and façade engineers are constantly on the lookout for new ways to improve a building's performance.
A facade engineer's scope of work
A properly designed and engineered façade can help reduce the building's energy consumption, improve natural lighting and offer better airflow.
A well-engineered façade for a sustainable building will bring energy costs down considerably and add to the building's lifespan. Sustainability is a vital issue in today's construction industry, with many different products being used in ways and combinations that will hopefully bring about a lower environmental impact in the future.
Monitoring everything from the design phase through to the installation is essential as building envelopes are notoriously difficult to predict accurately. Ensuring that the façade behaves in the way it is supposed to can mean the difference between a successful project and an outright failure.
One more factor to be taken into consideration is the building's use and occupancy status. It is down to the façade engineer to provide the future occupants with a comfortable space in which to operate, so everything from the amount of natural and artificial lighting requirements to the noise levels from the external environment has to be taken into account.
Couple this with the green issues and the fact that the building will need to blend into its surroundings, and you can see why façade engineering poses so many challenges. Nevertheless, these challenges make the job of a façade engineer one of the most important within the modern building industry today.