Definitions

facade

facade

[fuh-sahd, fa-]
facade, exterior face or wall of a building. The term implies ordered placement of its openings and other features and thus seems inapplicable to a wall without design. Any freestanding structure may have four or more facades, designated by their orientation (e.g., north facade); a building flanked by other buildings on either side generally has only a front and a rear facade. In medieval churches the chief facade is that of the building's west end, which contains the principal entrance portals.

A facade or façade is generally one side of the exterior of a building, especially the front, but also sometimes the sides and rear. The word comes from the French language, literally meaning "frontage" or "face".

In architecture, 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, and local zoning regulations or other laws greatly restrict or even forbid their alteration.

Highrise facades

In modern highrise buildings, the exterior walls are often suspended from the concrete floor slabs. Examples include curtain walls and precast concrete walls. The facade can at times be required to have a fire-resistance rating, for instance, if two buildings are very close together, to lower the likelihood of fire spreading from one building to another.

Whether rated or not, fire protection is always a design consideration both in terms of concern for the subject building as well as for the surroundings, as falling glass can endanger pedestrians, firefighters and firehoses below. An example of this is the First Interstate Bank Fire in Los Angeles, California. The fire here leapfrogged up the tower by shattering the glass and then consuming the aluminium skeleton holding the glass. Aluminium's melting temperature is 660 °C, whereas building fires can reach 1,100 °C. The melting point of aluminium is typically reached within minutes of the start of a fire. Firestops for such building joints can be qualified to UL 2079 -- Tests for Fire Resistance of Building Joint Systems Sprinklering of each floor has a profoundly positive effect on the fire safety of buildings with curtain walls. In the case of the aforementioned fire, it was specifically the activation of the newly installed sprinkler system, which halted the advance of the fire and allowed effective suppression.

Some building codes 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 doors, to maintain that wall's rating.

Film sets

On a film set, many of the buildings are only facades, which are far cheaper than actual buildings, and not subject to building codes. These 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.

References

See also

Further reading

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

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