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Facade Engineering

Façades are one of the largest and most important elements in the overall aesthetic and technical performance of a building. Facade Engineering is the art and science of solving aesthetic, environmental and structural problems to achieve effective protection of buildings.

Façades are one of the largest and most important elements in the overall aesthetic and technical performance of a building. Facade Engineering is the art and science of solving aesthetic, environmental and structural problems to achieve effective protection of buildings.

Specialized companies are located in this niche sector of the building industry, and engineers operate within the technical divisions of these specialist manufacturing companies. In general, Facade Engineers are particularly qualified in the discipline of Facade Engineering and Consulting and work with the design team on construction projects for architects, building owners, construction managers and product manufacturers.

Facade Engineers must consider aspects such as the design, certification, fabrication and installation of façades in relation to the performance of materials, aesthetic appearance, structural behavior, air-water tightness, safety and serviceability, safety, maintenance and constructability. The knowledge base will include topics such as computational fluid dynamics, heat transfer through two- and three-dimensional structures, behavior of materials, production methodologies, structural engineering and logistics.

Over time, the specialized knowledge required in this niche sector has led to the need to collaborate with Architects, Structural and Mechanical Engineers as buildings become more complex and Building Information Modeling (BIM) is introduced.

Building facades are considered one of the most expensive and potentially the highest risk elements of any major project. Building facades have the highest level of wear in a building compared to other building elements, and the pressure of change and adaptation is higher than other elements of a building due to environmental and energy performance needs. As a result, façade engineering has become a science in itself.

Building facades represent the individuality of Owners and Architects and become a permanent monument to success. Building facade costs can reach up to 25% of the total construction cost, depending on the design and the material structure and type to be used, and is one of the main determinants of building performance.

One of the aims of Façade Engineering is to preserve the physical integrity of the building by helping the Owners and Architects choose suitable, useful, long-lasting and economical materials so that they can realize their vision while creating a permanent work.

At the end of the 20th century, Façade Engineering gradually began to emerge as a specialized discipline as high-performance facades became qualified and complex. Although architects have hesitations about the function and feasibility of facades, the fact that the physics of the building can be designed in accordance with all kinds of architectural designs since the middle of the 19th century and with the development of technology has led to the expansion of the field of activity of Facade Engineering. With the contribution of Façade Engineers specialized in this field, obstacles have been removed so that architects can design more original facades.

With the development of building construction technology, as a result of the original designs made by the architects, especially the building envelope designs began to come to the fore. However, the terminology of the sector has emerged. We can briefly describe them as follows.

Building Envelope

The building envelope is the whole of the building elements that physically separates the conditioned building skeleton from the external environment. In short, it is a building facade system that separates the interior and exterior spaces.

Building Shell

The part of a building that physically separates the external environment from the internal environment forms the building envelope. This general definition includes the distinction between wet and dry environments, regardless of whether the interior is conditioned or not. For example, roofs, walls and their components, facades, joinery, glass, metal and machined sheets, composite panels, ceramics and derivative coatings, etc.

Facade Engineering

In order to achieve the protection of habitable areas from external environments, functional design of buildings including structural, aesthetics, environment, materials science, programming, production, purchasing, project management, construction techniques, building physics, fire, smoke, acoustics, lighting, mechanical, electrical It is a science that provides

Facade Consulting

This definition is mostly used in America and requires less responsibility compared to Facade Engineering.

General Design Management

Some Architects feel that the façade design is no longer fully under their control and thus their overall design process may be adversely affected. However, this should not be a situation that requires Architects to give up their responsibilities.

Architectural Design Management

An Architect’s electrical fixture holes (penetrations), waterproofing, mechanical air intakes, etc., obtained from many different consultants. expected to coordinate data. Engineers can choose options that best meet other façade functions if only building envelope information is available to them early in the design process. Examples are: a Structural Engineer introducing a bolted connection in a position where it will allow to create a continuous waterproofing layer, accepting thermal breakage in bridge connections, a soft joint (soft joint) in a cast-in-situ concrete structure with a lower class waterproofing membrane ) design or reposition structural components penetrating a roof to allow the minimum distances required for technological roof installation.

Independent Study

The Facade Engineer should ideally be responsible for all functions of the building envelope as well as holistically. All physical performance criteria, which are intertwined with each other during the design, should be analyzed together. Analyzing any of these criteria independently of the others can have a bad outcome. Any material selected during the Facade Design should not be in violation of the relevant construction standards and codes in effect, so that legal problems are not experienced in terms of building Owners and Project Authors.

Project Delivery Method

In traditional DBB (Design Bid Build) projects, as the design team starts working after the tender, the effects of interfering with the works coming from the preliminary design processes are decreasing and there are difficulties in producing solutions according to the existing design. Here, the role of the Facade Engineer comes to the fore in the complete fulfillment of current design requirements and performances, constructability and material selection.

Project management

In cases where the projects are not carried out by professional Project Managers, it is inevitable to experience serious problems in field construction works. This situation also causes negative effects in the detailed design approvals and material selection and approval processes. In projects where Facade Engineers are employed during the design phase, most of the anxiety and uncertainty of the construction phase will be eliminated as the gap between architectural documentation and submissions has narrowed considerably, thus reducing the risks of project deadlines being delayed and naturally inconsistent.


The main functions of building facades can be divided into two main categories, the first being tangible (physical) and the more dominant intangible (intangible).

Abstract (intangible) Functionality

The height of a building and other representative façade features are traditionally a symbol of power and wealth and are intangible features of the façade. Providing such representative functionality without sacrificing physical functionality is done with precision by the selection of the right design team.

Concrete Functionality

All physical features of a façade must be carefully considered and taken into account as concrete functionality. These aspects include constructability, economic viability, imaging capability, utility, sustainability, serviceability, safety, health, injury, property value and economic operation, productivity, operability, maintainability, ease of repair, durability, convertibility, and disposal.

Physical Performance

The basic physical function is to protect building occupants against external weather factors affecting the building envelope: rain, wind, snow, hail, flood, sun, light, wind-borne dust, explosion, heat flux, water vapor, aggressive airborne and water-based chemicals, Besides noise, vibrations, fire, smoke, theft, dirt accumulation and normal wear and tear, it provides an ergonomic, economical, environmentally friendly and program compliant enclosure.

Natural and artificial external factors and control methods are as follows.

Wind – with building physics and structural resistance itself
Rain – with membranes, silicones and gaskets
Light – with shading and overlay
Heat – with thermal insulation
Fire – with fire resistant layers/materials
With smoke – heat and weather resistant layers/materials
Water vapor – with vapor-retardant and permeable layers/materials
Insect – bird screens, with insect nets/barriers
Snow – sloping, parapet and coping configuration, heat wires, insulation, with
Hail – with resistant layers
Earthquakes – with ductility and movement joints
Flood – with openings, drains
Dirt accumulation – curved design, with hydrophilic surfaces
Noise and vibrations – with layers of mass, damping, warping and distance
Explosion – with the physics of the structure and the structural resistance itself
Anti-theft – with security glass, shutters, steel cladding and durable opening mechanisms
Normal wear and tear – with maintenance and inspection

Order of Priority

The list of priorities varies depending on the project requirements. Naturally, structural, fire, smoke and waterproofing requirements come first as they relate to life safety. Facade functions should be considered together, and each façade component can control one or more external factors.

environmental Protection

Functionality and Durability – Lifespan as an Aspect of Sustainability

Facades that are not functional and not routinely maintained are worn out over time by external factors on the one hand and by the building’s own users on the other. While these worn facades complete their life, most of them are reused through recycling.

Ecology – LEED Coverage in Building Shell

SS – Sustainable Sites

EA – Energy and Atmosphere

MK – Materials and Resources

KO – Indoor Environment


The size and dimensions of the human body (height) vary very little, and these dimensions often form the basis of codified safety requirements and are prerequisites for architectural design. Unsafe glass dimensions and heights, opening access distances and horizontal registers designed at eye level, unnecessary facade details that are too detailed for human vision to reach are some of the factors affecting ergonomic design.


The façade should be accessible from many points for maintenance, repair and inspection, and this should be taken into account during the concept design phase. Otherwise, there may be inaccessible facades, eaves, skylights, and then the need for visually unpleasant facade stairs and railing design may arise, which is not very preferable.


The constructability of façades necessitates the combined use of spatial coordination and construction assembly tools. Site logistics facilities, availability of skeleton and assembly equipment, transportation of materials to assembly sites, and the risks to be created in terms of safety are the main issues to be considered.

Water isolation

There is a proverb “No drop of water with self-respect will miss the opportunity to enter a building”. The two most important and inseparable elements of waterproofing on the façade are the shape and mounting details of the façade. The other important factor is the assembly application, that is, the quality of workmanship.

Switching between systems

Architects often need help designing façade-building transition/joining information for façade assemblies. These special details require not only design knowledge, but also product knowledge.

Overlapping aspects of facade design

The detailing of the waterproofing can actually affect the structural integration of the building, and this requires a holistic analysis of the building facades. It should not be forgotten that uncoordinated systems can have the effect of potentially endangering the health and safety of the public.

Condensation Control

Uncontrolled condensation creates a humid environment with the potential to damage delicate interior materials. Material selections to be used should be determined by making condensation calculations.

Air Leak Inspection

Air leakage (leakage) is a serious problem apart from condensation and heat transfer such as odour, smoke, noise or polluted air transfer. Thus, dust, odor, smoke and noise are transferred from building facades to interior spaces and user comfort is adversely affected. The selection of materials to be used should be made among the systems that have been tested and have received positive results.

Snow and Icing

Atmospheric icing and snow accumulation can present as a safety concern in cold and mixed climates. This potential danger can be eliminated by choosing the appropriate facade shape and analysis, meteorological research and heating analysis.

Heat transfer

The human body can easily recognize even low differences in dry and wet air temperatures. Heat losses (heating and cooling requirements) in the façade together with artificial lighting cause serious energy losses. This problem can be solved by increasing the thermal resistance of the building envelope and minimizing it by cutting air conduction.

Shading – Balance Between Light and Heat

The search for natural light to penetrate deeper into the building envelope can cause glare and thermal discomfort for building users. It should allow external shading to limit direct light and allow ambient light to enter the building. In countries with high energy prices, shading and light control are very important in terms of operating costs and should definitely be taken into account during the architectural design phase.

Bug Insect

Some plants, acrobatic rodents, insects and birds can damage modern façades that lack traditional means of protection. As they leave residues, wastes and unwanted residues on the facades, they cause both discomfort and physical damage to the building materials. This potential threat can be eliminated by considering it at the architectural design stage.


Floods have historically emerged as a destructive force that dwarfs even wind damage. The architectural design of a building should comply with FEMA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) design guidelines in flood-prone areas, and the following considerations should be taken into account when building buildings in hurricane-affected coastal areas.

Upgrade of structures and service equipment
Using water-insensitive materials
Designing easy-to-dry assembly
Noise Reduction

Buildings with modern façades are often subject to high noise levels as they are located near growing crowds and transport hubs. The material to be used to reduce noise should be selected among the systems that have been tested and have received positive results.


These needs should be addressed early in the design process to avoid high cost changes.

Dirt Buildup

Although it is mainly a visual aspect of facades, dirt build-up often occurs in areas with prolonged water exposure. This problem can be largely avoided with a conscious design and the use of appropriate materials.

Fire and Smoke Controls

Fire and smoke prevention requirements are undesirable requirements and should not be taken lightly. Requirements and analyzes taken into account during the initial phase of a project will reduce the time and expense of redesigning later.


Facades are only as good as their weakest components, these components must be identified during the detail design process. Access to components requiring frequent maintenance should not require façade removal. The guarantees given in the selection of facade materials should be approached with caution, as they usually only cover a part of the total replacement costs.

You can find the terms related to the facade here.

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