Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Designing the perfect building facade is an arduous process. But, it’s extremely important to get the design right because your building can be negatively affected if you don’t think about the effect certain features will have on the structure’s exterior.
Here are 8 tips for designing the perfect building facade:
- Consider the materials that affect light exposure.
- Ensure glass elements won’t obstruct views from inside.
- Understand the pattern of light.
- Use variant technologies.
- Ensure doors and windows open in the right direction.
- Be consistent with the design of the exterior.
- Consider water features to create biodiversity.
- Prioritize quality instead of quantity.
Designing a facade that appeals to residents and visitors alike takes care, creativity, thoughtfulness, and patience. There are several general rules to follow when designing the facade of your building, but also a number that allows you to express your creativity. Read on to know the 8 tips for designing the perfect building façade.
1. Consider the Materials That Affect Light Exposure
When designing your building’s facade, remember that different materials affect light exposure. For example, if your building is facing west, you’ll want to ensure that the facade isn’t made up of more than 50% glass, as this may increase the building’s internal heat.
If your building is facing north, you’ll want to use materials that reflect light. In this case, a white or grey facade would be great.
Depending on the location of the building, you’ll likely want to use different materials.
The glass used for your facade will also affect how much sunlight gets through it. Make sure that what kind of glazing system (i.e., double-glazed) you choose depends on where your building is located.
2. Ensure Glass Elements Won’t Obstruct Views From Inside
One of the most important considerations for a building facade is ensuring that it doesn’t obstruct views from the inside.
It’s essential to ensure this in multi-story buildings like office towers and residential high rises. Every tenant has the right of way when looking outside their window or through shared spaces, such as atriums or lobbies.
This means you’ll likely want to use materials on each side of your building that don’t interfere with inhabitants’ natural light exposure. The placement of signage and balconies is important to consider for this reason. For example, balconies are typically enclosed by glass walls which can impede views from within while allowing people living there to enjoy fresh air year-round.
In contrast, retail spaces often have large windows similar to those in domestic homes because tenants tend not to be bothered if a neighboring building partially obstructs their shopfront.
In addition, consider how your facade materials affect the interior space’s energy efficiency and natural ventilation.
For instance, if you use glass extensively for your exterior walls, it may result in overheating. At the same time, solid brick facades trap heat during warm summer months, which makes the air conditioning work harder to keep up with demand.
It’s also worth keeping an eye on any potential problems that might arise from using specific materials such as aluminum or steel. If not properly treated, they can be susceptible to rusting, causing unsightly stains on a building’s exterior over time.
3. Understand the Pattern of Light
Understanding the pattern of light is vital for certain building types.
For example, for schools that aim to help students learn effectively, it’s essential to consider the position of exterior windows in relation to where students are seated and how they will affect their ability to read textbooks, or if they get distracted easily.
The same can be said for retail outlets that need good visibility from the outside, so passers-by take notice of their brand name. If you have a shop front-facing window, it’s worth considering your lighting options so as not to blind customers when entering your place of business.
When designing an office space, try thinking about which way natural light should come into each room. Ask questions like:
- Is there enough sunlight?
- Are there rays peeking through them at inconvenient times during the day?
- Do employees even want any direct sunlight?
- For the ground floor residents, are they going to be distracted by cars and other people going by?
4. Use Variant Technologies
The use of technology is always a consideration when it comes to ensuring that your business is future-proof and ready for the next wave of technology. The use of variant technologies in your building will set your business apart from the competitors.
Whether it is the use of LED lighting, electricity, or solar panels, there are so many options to choose from, and each has its own benefits.
Some various forms of technology for building facades include:
- LED lighting: LED lights can be used as a facade and to illuminate building signage. They’re also an energy-efficient way of using the sun’s power during daylight hours, converting it into free electricity.
- Solar panels: Solar panels have grown drastically in popularity over the past few years due to their eco-friendly nature. Not only do they convert sunlight into usable energy, but they’re aesthetically pleasing too.
- Wind power: Wind energy is also a great option that can work anywhere provided there are enough windy days. If you have an existing structure with suitable space available, then this could well be worth looking into further, even if just as part of a hybrid system.
- Biomass heating systems: This type of heating works by burning biomass, such as wood chips, and using the heat generated to help produce hot water. This provides both thermal comfort and domestic hot water requirements for your building occupants or tenants.
- Exterior Motion Lighting: This is one option that many people have been considering for some time now, but the initial costs involved can be prohibitive. Regardless, exterior motion lighting can prevent crime for retail businesses.
5. Ensure Doors and Windows Open in the Right Direction
When designing your facade, you also need to consider the orientation of your entrance doors and windows. Commercial buildings usually require exterior doors to swing out for egress. On the other hand, doors in residential homes typically open inwards, away from any potential hazards like balconies or other areas that could cause injury if someone were to walk into them.
This can be ideal for inclement weather situations such as snow and rain. If your building’s doors open inward, the wind will be less likely to catch your doors and cause damage.
Having doors that open inward has other benefits as well. It can help with energy efficiency by keeping warm air inside your building rather than letting it escape through your doors and windows every time they are opened.
It also helps prevent accidents if children or elderly residents live in the building because there’s less risk of someone falling over a door that opens into their path. When compared to one that swings outwards where you could easily walk straight into the opening doorway without expecting it, this is ideal.
One last thing to consider. Make sure all entry points like doorways meet current fire regulations for emergency egress, so everyone gets out quickly and safely during an evacuation. This is one aspect of facade design for commercial buildings which is critical.
6. Be Consistent With the Design of the Exterior
When designing your building’s facade, you want to make sure you keep a consistent theme throughout. For example, if you’re going for a modern style, then use clean lines and have little or no unnecessary detail, as this will help create that look.
A building’s exterior is important because it acts as the first thing people see when approaching it and creates an impression of what type of business they are dealing with from far away.
Doing so will give your facade a more professional-looking finish rather than having different styles, which could cause confusion among visitors. Cohesiveness in your building’s facade includes design elements like:
- Materials used for building’s exterior
When designing your exterior, try to stick with a similar theme throughout. If you want to use an architectural style, use clean lines and have little or no unnecessary detail, as this will help create that look.
You can achieve a more professional-looking finish by sticking with one central idea across all aspects such as lighting, roofing, etc. Doing so will give your facade a clean line look rather than having different styles, which could cause confusion among visitors.
7. Consider Water Features To Create Biodiversity
One design element that may set your building apart is the water or green feature. Water features not only improve the aesthetics of a building’s facade but can also be used to create biodiversity within an urban area.
If you’re in a rural area and you recreate miniature ecosystems with different types of wildlife in your landscaping, you’ll attract more birds and wildlife, which in turn will help support pollination for nearby plants.
Ideas to create biodiversity outside your building include:
- Building a pond that supports aquatic life such as frogs, toads, and turtles.
- Purchasing shrubs with edible berries for birds and insects to eat from.
- Providing different types of flowers that attract butterflies, bees, or other beneficial pollinators.
- Planting trees in your landscaping that provide shade/shelter for wildlife like rabbits or foxes.
However, if you’re in an urban area, the goal isn’t to attract wildlife but to create a lush facade with shrubbery and other greens. This will create a sense of a natural habitat without actually attracting any wildlife, which can make customers feel relaxed and more apt to return.
Creating a rooftop garden will allow more sunlight to reach the lower levels of your building, which in turn helps all types of plant life thrive. Including green roofs on top of new buildings is an excellent way to add lush foliage and extremely reduce stormwater runoff into nearby rivers or lakes.
Using native landscaping that requires little watering allows for less strain on city-wide water sources while encouraging biodiversity within urban areas.
8. Prioritize Quality Instead of Quantity
When it comes to designing a facade for your building, always prioritize quality over quantity. This means that you should always use high-quality materials and components for your facade instead of cutting corners.
For example, if the contractor is offering to install lower quality windows to save money on installation costs, reject this proposal and insist upon higher quality materials that’ll last longer than a few years or so.
Additionally, some features that should be chosen based on their quality include:
- Insulation materials
- Roofing materials
Quality is more important than quantity when it comes to designing a sustainable building facade that’ll last for years without needing any repairs or maintenance work. This means that you should always use high-quality components for your design instead of cutting corners with cheaper ones to save money.
The same rule applies when it comes to choosing colors such as paint.
Opt for darker colors rather than lighter ones because they tend to hide defects better, and require less maintenance. When selecting the right materials and components for your building facade, prioritize quality over quantity at all times.
Also, try adding depth by using different types of textures in combination with each other.
Start off with something like brick or stone, and then add planks of wood into the mix. This will create an aesthetically pleasing contrast between two very distinct surfaces while also giving them a nice finish.
Why You Should Be Concerned With a Building Facade
The exterior of a building is what the public sees and interacts with most. It’s important to design your building facade correctly, or it can negatively impact how customers perceive your company, both internally and externally.
When you put a lot of care and thought into what the outside of your building looks like, you will create the right impression, whether it’s a residential or commercial building.
Architectural design is not an easy process. But, one thing you’ll never regret doing if you’re designing your own building facade is thinking about the effects of different features on the exterior appearance of your structure.
- Architect: What to Consider When Specifying Architecture Glass
- CTCN: High-Performance Building Facades
- Conservative Construction: Why do front doors open inward?
- Architect: Monarch Sanctuary: Integrated Biodiversity in Building Facades
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