Building facades take on new significance

They are now built to protect occupants from planned or deliberate attacksImage Credit: Supplied

Beyond the traditional aesthetic and protective functions of building facades, there is now a trend in engineering and construction whereby the building envelope is built to secure its occupants, not only from the elements but also from more extreme possible sources of damage such as deliberate or planned attacks.

Prior to this trend, building envelopes were designed and built to protect building occupants from the elements (environment), provide the building an aesthetic signature, manage or improve building energy load or energy performance, protect the shelf life of usable materials, protect and ensure comfortable interiors and many others.

The building envelope functions as a protective thermal barrier between the interior part of the building and the external environment. Depending on the material used, an efficient building envelope system plays a crucial role in regulating internal building temperature especially in the case of countries with extreme temperatures. An efficient building envelope system would effectively decrease the energy requirement to cool a building (in ‘hot’ zones) or to warm a building (at freezing temperatures).

Buildings like the Louvre in Paris, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, Burj Al Arab, The Guggenheim Bilbao in Spain, The Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision (Hilversum) are all great examples of building facades providing the establishment it represents an aesthetic signature.

However, above these functions, the protective element of building facades and envelopes when it comes to serious, deliberate and damaging attacks has become even more important. The starting point needs to be done from the consulting and planning stage whereby the designer and the client (the developer, owner or tenant) decide on the level of threat/s that need to be considered in the building protection system, and the objectives of any such blast protection measures. The importance of dialogue and knowledge sharing within engineering and architectural circles, and within the construction community should never be understated.

Click Building facades to learn more 

Handy Hints:

* Building facades now designed beyond their traditional functions

* Louvre and Burj Al Arab examples of buildings with great facades

* Designer and client need to identify level of threat in planning stage

Source: Claire Dangalan, Special to Properties

The writer is a freelancer


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