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  • Writer's pictureArvind Dang

Designing a robust façade for buildings

Design activities include design work for facades of all types, such as:

·      Aluminium

·      UPVC Glazing

·      Brickwork and stonework

·      Tiles and stone veneer panels

·      Pre-cast concrete panels

·       Metallic cladding

·      And so on

Characteristics of a Robust Façade Design: 

·      Uniqueness of building envelop ‘s style to grab attention

·      Energy saving cost reduction

·      Overall project costs for facade.

·      Provision of vertical & lateral wind actions

·      Optimum design performance of Façade vis a vis:

·      Eliminate water ingress

·       Ensure airtightness to prevent heat or cooling loss

·       Configure acoustic insulation to reduce noise

·       Thermal insulation designed to reduce the overall amount of heat absorption due to solar radiations

·      Provide adequate daylight while preventing glare

· Carbon-neutral design

·      Fire resistance

·      Ability to withstand excessive vibrations

·      Ability to withstand changes in the frequency of sound & Noise control

·      Prevent looseness of fasteners

·      Inside occupant’s comforts

·      Incorporate features of the façade cleaning system

·      Ensure meeting safety and statutory requirements

·      Easy maintainability of the cleaning system

And so on

Inputs that contribute to making a good Façade design include:

1.     Proposing the right choice of strong materials in terms of specifications while

       optimizing costs:  


Types of materials for use in Façade Panels

Key specifications of building materials (as required by customers and National/international Quality standards)

Glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC)

Thickness, density, unit weight, compression strength, tensile strength, porosity, moisture content, water tightness, moisture content, coefficient of thermal expansion, flexural strength, modulus of elasticity and

Color, texture, surface type/shape, size, width,

Steel reinforced Concrete façade (RC)

Thickness, density, unit weight, compression strength, tensile strength, porosity, moisture content, water tightness, moisture content, coefficient of thermal expansion, flexural strength, modulus of elasticity

Ultra high-performance concrete (UHPC)

as above

Composite façade (Aluminium-polyethylene composite or wood plastic composite panel)

as above

Terra cotta cladding tiles

as above

Hardness, modulus of elasticity, ductility, wear resistance, resistance to chemicals, and so

Timber Façade

size, color, luster, grains, content, hardness, density, shear resistance, and so on

Natural stone facade

color, hardness, grain size, texture, polish ability, chemical properties, and so on

Door/window hardware (Aluminium, Stainless steel,

Make, brand, aesthetic and style, size, color, coating, surface finish,

Sealants (silicon rubber,

Waterproofing, insulation, resistance to extreme temperature, UV resistance withstanding temperature, color retention, strength, shrinkage, crack resistance, etc

Maintenance equipment

Make, brand, model, performance, size, safety

and so on


2 Incorporating, in façade-related design & drawings, good practices for construction or & installation of the following as per applicable Quality standards:

·       Fabrication of aluminum or UPVC or alternate materials for use as panels

·       Installation of various types of panels for the façade as mentioned above, such as

GFRC, RC, UHPC, composite façade, terracotta, natural stone, etc.  

·       Installation of glassworks/glazing, hardware, and maintenance system for façade. 

·       Application & testing of sealants on the façade for acoustics, water & air leakage, and

inside temperature control

·       Installation, testing, and commissioning  of specialized façade systems

·       Installation and testing of a façade cleaning system with safety considerations

·       Providing inputs to the building architects, Interior designers, and  MEP-package

designers for integration of all designs across the project  

      3 Building quality in the designing process for Façade -using designing software:

·       Essential technical steps/activities include performing the following for developing



  • ·      Analysis of Solar movement and shading analysis

  • ·      Daylight planning

  • ·      Energy reduction

  • ·      Solar heat gain and thermal analysis

  • · Carbon-neutral designs

  • ·      Glazing selection

  • ·      Façade envelop geometry.

  • ·      Fabrication & assembly of façade system

Software like Fennesta, Autodesk Revit, AutoCAD, ETAB, or similar features to carry out design analysis can be considered for developing facade works related to designs.

Five stages for developing the design of Façade   

Design activities vary considerably from company to company, but generally, there are 5 stages to designing the Façade for buildings as below. Whatever designing processes and software are used, designing must result in developing Robust designs by accomplishing the following:

·       Build designs that are comprehensive, accurate

·       Contributes to building quality in construction by incorporating national and international quality standards in BOQ/material specifications and construction processes

·       Integrates statutory and safety requirements in the designs and drawings  

·       Optimise project costs

·       Enables efficient delivery of designs & drawings

·       Incorporates maker-checker step in each design stage through the implementation   of segregation of duties concept


The 5 (five)stages are:

·       1 Develop Concept designs

·       2 Develop a Detailed design

·       3 Develop Tenders (Technical design aspects

·       4 Estimating Costs

·       5 Issuing As-built drawing


The below-listed activities, those marked *, reflect those activities which can have adverse statutory implications.


Stage 1: Use appropriate licensed software to develop concept design while keeping an eye on activities that can adversely impact business, such as the following.


  • ·      Not obtaining or not incorporating inputs (like Building Envelop, Building statutory codes, Performance of façade, Construction methods for proposed façade, Maintenance of façade, Renderings for sales promotion, cleaning system for façade) from Architect, MEP, sales teams’ functions into Building Façade design

  • ·      Using unlicensed software while developing a concept design for Façade.

  • ·      Not vetting the concept and detailed design/making compromise while vetting Façade,

  • in collaboration with, inhouse or outsourced Façade consultant, by skipping or compromising on essential design features and drawings aspects such as below.


  • ·       i)Tolerances on material specifications and Workmanship

  • ·        ii)Statutory code-related requirements for Façade *  

  • ·       iii)National and international standards for quality    

  • ·        iv)Raw Materials (hardware, glazing, stones, claddings, etc.) sizes, and

  • ·       v)Quality requirements and suggestive gauging

  • ·       vi)Façade safety requirements *   

  • ·       vii)Compromising on the safety of the Façade by proposing low-cost/low-

  • ·      viii) Bribing mandatory Agencies which approve the Façade. Relevant for issuing


Stage 2: Use appropriate licensed software to develop detailed design while keeping an eye on activities that can adversely impact business, such as below.


  • ·      The design intent is not aligned with the approved concept design.

  • ·      Façade detailed drawings are not comprehensive to include structural integrity,

  • ·      Assigning the same designer to develop schematic designs & drawings, who

  • ·      Detailed design not based on supporting calculations/formula related to thermal

  • movements, edge beam deflection, thermal expansion, structural calculations,



Stage 3 Use appropriate licensed software to develop Tender (Technical design aspects ) while keeping an eye on activities that can adversely impact business,  such as below.


  • ·       In the tender, the Façade designer includes names and brands of specific

  • ·       Façade designer recommends only a single source for many BOQ materials and

  • ·       Tender drawings do not incorporate applicable quality standards for all BOQ

  • ·       Inspection requirements w.r.t. façade works like aluminum and glass, doors,

  • ·       Tender drawings not incorporating applicable statutory requirements vis-a-



Stage 4 Use appropriate licensed software to estimate costs while keeping an eye on activities that can adversely impact business,  such as below.


Computing Façade costs based on thumb rules rather than on the first principal basis vis-à-vis following, leading to underestimating or overestimating project costs, costs of raw materials like Aluminium or UPVC or civil materials

   i)Costs of doors and handles

 ii)Costs of hardware

iii)Costs of consumables

 iv)Costs of equipment for cleaning /maintenance of Façade

v)Costs of fabrication

 vi)Costs of labor etc.

 vii)Costs of installation, testing, and commissioning

Stage 5 Use appropriate licensed software to Issue As-built drawings -while keeping an eye on activities that can adversely impact business,  such as below.



  •  ·       Façade designer issuing “As-built drawings” for the Façade which are aligned to earlier approved drawings by the Project head and statutory authorities (if applicable) but at variant, vis-à-vis actual completed physical construction (in terms of approved façade plans and construction materials used, etc.) *

You can read more about the 20 activities that can adversely impact business in Chapter 1 of my handbook ETHICS in the real estate and hospitality industry, Volume 1- Architectural, Interior Design, and MEP Services. “

Amazon link: India-


Amazon link-Global-





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