This introduction briefly summarizes the role of facade engineer.



Façade engineering is increasingly taking place in an array of specialized skills needed to complete building. A facade was always an important mark of the individuality of an architect and owner but never before have facade components been so complex.

A lot of attention is paid to design, therefore some sophisticated facade projects are more complex than entire buildings and of greater value. The façade may account for 20% of the total cost of a building and be the greatest factor in determining the whole life cost energy maintenance and replacement.

Façade design leads to the improvement of the quality and comfort of buildings through the use of better materials and processes, coordinated and intelligent design and the development of intelligent façades.

 The role of a facade engineer is to help an architect to accomplish his or her artistic vision by proposing a relevant means to achieve the desired effect without any negative impact.

It seems to be the common rule that the later he joins the team, the tougher his task is.

 Some major goals may be determined, but the list varies depending on specific project requirements. For example; the airport development priority may be noise protection, on the other hand a pharmaceutical facility program will put stress on air tightness of partitions in order to produce hermetic environment inside. The sanitary conditions play a greater role in hospitals, gastronomy, etc.



·              accommodation of all building functions,

·              safety (fire, security)

·              indoor climate (temperature and its gradient, moisture, air movement)

·              waterproofing

·              micro and macro biological control

·              noise reduction

·           seismic protection

·              construction economy

·              installation feasibility


A facade engineer also diagnoses faults of existing building envelopes. This invaluable field experience helps in designing and consulting new constructions. This discipline requires good engineers and architects able to deal with the challenge of the complex design conflicts that arise from the many and diverse functions of a wall or a roof. The education and experience of a facade engineer should embrace at least architecture, construction, mechanics, physics, technology and law. Most facade engineering companies employ several specialists to cover different areas of specializations instead.


There are two major local factors: climate and law, which are in most cases the decisive factors and they play a large part in shaping the building form, as it was observed in history. The more innovative and outstanding form of building designed by architect the weaker it potentially might be. Only truly excellent design would survive the probe of time.


Below I give an illustration of the importance of climate:


Most developed countries have moderate climate. It is common that in winter the ground freezes to 1 - 1,5m (3'-4" - 5'-0") in depth.
Many popular building materials and systems introduced in warm climates prove useless in cold and moderate climates because they are prone to freeze-thaw cycle damage.

Shallow foundations, small building additions, stairs and sidewalks are lifted by frozen soil. A design shall provide their separation from deeper founded constructions by control joints.


The natural daily and annual extreme temperature span (~150 degrees.C) causes significant temperature stresses: contraction and expansion of external building materials and joint movements, therefore the proper design of joints is a challenging task.


Oxygen and sun radiation as well as many other factors degrade many building materials. Specific materials features and properties must be taken into consideration and serious thought has to be given to the choice of building materials. Many materials cannot be used on outer surfaces without the protective coat of paint or impregnation (wood) or anodicoxidation (aluminum). Some of new developed materials have no aging data available. A well known example is PVC plastifiers migration. Another condition is the galvanic action between two different metals (like copper and steel) which, if carelessly connected, leads to quick deterioration by corrosion.


Large humidity pressure differences on the outside and inside leaf of a building envelope lead to undesired condensation inside partitions, damage building tissue, render improperly sealed thermoinsulation useless and may lead to further biological corrosion. Wind driven rain may penetrate internal sheathing and cause periodical leaks.


The pressure of wind and heavy snow cause structural challenges. The means of support and the layering of the arrangement can totally change the appearance of the façade. Safety is essential to assure protection of human life.


Noise protection is a growing concern in traffic conditions in large cities and around airports.


The heating energy savings are essential where the protection of the environment and the rising costs of fuel play an increasingly important role. External envelopes and these of internal partitions which separate rooms of different temperatures shall be carefully designed to reach the required thermal resistance (R). The balance of energy of a whole building must be kept low to achieve "a long mileage" effect.

Architects and engineers in Europe have developed the intelligent facade design- among others introducing double facades, which passively control the internal environment causing energy savings and significant acoustical comfort improvement.

Also see my presentation about Facade Design Principles.

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