Building Better Facades

How facade design impact a building's performance and user well-being

Beyond their role as an exterior skin protecting a building from the elements, facades greatly influence the environmental performance of a building as well as occupants' well-being.

While aping the west and opting for typical glass facades has been vastly popular across the country, there are several factors that need to be considered while developing environmentally and functionally appropriate facades for the Indian context.

<rt-red> Glass facades, while ubiquitous, come with the disadvantages of glare and excessive heat ingress, increasing mechanical cooling loads on a building that contribute to higher running costs. A sustainable approach to facade design involves developing the building envelope strategically. <rt-red> Requisite analyses and calculations should be carried out by studying the impact of light, heat and wind movement on the building massing and orientation. There is no need to install more glass than is necessary—and since it has no real alternative yet, we need to be judicious in its use. At Studio Lotus, we often work with a 70:30/60:40 wall-window ratio to create a well-designed facade system for commercial edifices.

For example, the Max House, an office building for max Estates in New Delhi, incorporates several design features to reduce its environmetal impact. The facade, composed of hollow brick masonary, insulated spandrel panels, and Double Glazed Units (DGU) is engineered to cut out glare and reduce the heat gains and losses through the building envelope, lowering operating costs.

Another aspect that influences the design of facades is the well-being of occupants. Controlling the movement of light and air establishing a connection to nature have been thrown into sharp focus against the backdrop of the pandemic. <rt-red> As a result, terraces, balconies, and small spill-out areas have now assumed immense significance, contributing to people's health and well-being. <rt-red> These requirements have resulted in the need to create a more porous and permeable experiences between the inside and the outside for the users.

At the House with a Brick Veil, multiple terraces and balconies are accommodated between the home and its outer brick facade, creating buffer spaces that enjoy the privacy of the indoors as well as light and air of the outdoors.

As an industry, there is immense scope for us to explore possibilities in facade design. The first step towards this is to consider the building skin as a vital component of the design itself, not merely as an afterthought. <rt-red> Facade design systems must strike the right balance between aesthetics, cost, energy consumption, and occupant well-being. <rt-red>

Attached Projects