A facade is the first impression of the building in a context. It is a representation of the narrative the building intends to tell. This outer shell of a structure not only signifies what goes on inside the building but also contributes to the urban environment. It is thus essential to articulate the facade to suit the surroundings while representing the building. This article looks at the different types of facade designs seen in contemporary architecture.  

Traditional Masonry Facade Design with a Contemporary Twist 

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Traditional Masonry Facade Design_©Francisco Cadau Oficina de Arquitectura

Traditionally, the outer skin of the building was articulated to function as an aesthetic and functional facade. These facades were generally made of brick or stone masonry. Traditional masonry facades are used in modern structures with a twist. Being rooted in the context, they explore the material’s potential eloquently. A play of extruding bricks that creates greater visual depth and interest is commonly used in buildings. The diverse configurations of bricks making this facade reflects the versatility of this conventional material. Modern built forms use cladding panels to create a rustic rugged facade. Besides, brick is a multifaceted and superior material. Available in different compositions, it also has several advantages. It is lightweight, durable, and a good insulator.

Glass Curtain Wall and Double Skin Facade Designs

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Curtain Wall Facade_©IGSMAG.Com

A common facade type that has taken architecture all around the world by storm, is the typical curtain wall facade design. Constructed with industrial material, these facades have a metal frame over which glass panels are fitted. These facade designs are commonly used in commercial buildings. They flood the interiors with ample light thereby creating a pleasant ambience inside the building.   

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Double-skinned facade_©Cemal Emden

An energy-efficient version of the conventional curtain wall is a double-skinned facade. These closed cavity facades use two separate layers of glass that form a cavity between them. They provide enhanced thermal comfort, and solar shading and maintain optimal indoor luxe levels. Its advantages also include better acoustics and increased life of glazing systems. It opted for the south-facing facade that uses glazing.

Contemporary Clay and Ceramic Facade Design 

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Terracotta Facade_© Pietro Savorelli

Abstract contemporary clay tile facades make for an interesting facade design. Clay as a facade material looks rich and at par with the natural surrounding. It is also a great insulator that helps regulate thermal comfort in the interiors. Terracotta tiles are a versatile facade cladding option that can amp up the look of the structure by rendering it in a contextual aesthetic. The play of lines on this facade creates an abstract-looking facade that induces dynamic play of light and shadow inside the structure. 

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Ceramic Facade Design_© Anke Müllerklein

Like clay facades, ceramic facades are also used as cladding material to create assorted facade designs. This sustainable material is versatile and an eye-turner often used as a highlight in facade designs. It gives the facade a timeless appearance and is quite durable offering optimal thermal comfort. 

Decorative Perforated Metal Screen Facade Design

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Decorative Mesh Facade Design_©Hendrick Architectural

Perforated metal screens are effective ways of creating unique facade designs. The mesh can be customized to take the desired shape. Be it a mural, a logo, or something for making a blank facade visually interesting, this facade design works wonders. It also has several advantages as it allows passive ventilation and solar shading. Additionally, the metal mesh enhances the spatial quality of the interiors by creating a drama of light and shadows. Metals like steel and aluminium are laser cut to create the varying perforation holes that define the facade.

Atypical Precast Concrete Panel Facade Design

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Precast Concrete Panels_©evansconcrete.co.uk

Precast concrete claddings are a staple of many modern buildings today. The diverse array of shapes, sizes, and colours of concrete panels makes it one of the most versatile cladding materials out there. These are easy-to-customize panels that create sophisticated facade designs. This conventional material has numerous advantages. It is durable, and resilient to harsh climatic factors like rain, sun, and winds. They amp up the look of the facade making it visually appealing. 

Modern Natural Stone Panel Facade Design 

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Stone Facade Design_© 2021 Surface Shop

Stone is an ancient building material that was extensively used for construction in ancient times. Although the industrial revolution has made it redundant as a building material, it is still extensively used as a facade material. Natural stone veneers give the building a charming natural aesthetic but are easier and cheaper to install. It gives similar advantages as stone such as fire resistance, and durability yet is more convenient than traditional stone. Natural stone veneers create stunning facade designs that seem to be rooted in nature. 

Dynamic Parametric Facade Design

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Parametric Facade Design_©A.P.P. architects & associates

Parametric facades have a dynamic appearance. These are made out of numerous smaller elements that create an undulating surface. Free-forming shapes consisting of interdependent and adaptable elements make for distinct facade designs. The complex patterns have a sumptuous appeal, that breaks away from the typical straight edges and forms. Parametric facades are a great facade design option to make a one-of-a-kind statement. A set of parameters govern the making of this facade that is determined by a set of algorithms. Parametric facades are intelligently capacitated to change the interior light quality. Some of them also contribute to temperature control inside the building.

Vibrant Aluminum Composite Panel Facade Design 

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ACP Facade Design _©2022 GharPedia

Aluminium composite panels are flexible lightweight facade materials that create vibrant facade designs. These cladding panels are available in a wide range of colours and patterns. ACP panels are extensively used in industrial and commercial buildings. They are durable affordable and can be used in several combinations to define features of the design. 

Living Green Facade Design

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Green Facade Design_©archdaily.com

Green facades are becoming increasingly popular facade design options, especially in high-rise buildings. As they often lack a direct connection to nature. A myriad of different plants grows on metal support frames. Planter beds are incorporated on floors while creepers and shrubs are grown on trellis and cable systems. Indigenous plant species work well on green facades. A significant advantage of green facades is that they regulate the thermal comfort inside the building. They transform the appearance as the seasons change. A crucial thing that needs managing in this kind of facade is irrigation and drainage. Maintaining these facades with regular pruning and providing the right food for plants is also essential. 

Electric Kinetic Facade Design  

Kinetic Facade Design_© 2022 Archello

Kinetic facades are dynamic and change the way the building looks, feels, and performs with time. These computationally programmed facades comprising of smaller elements. The elements move, change, and adapt to reveal and conceal the interior spaces. A good example of dynamic facades is the cultural centre of the new Bund Financial Center by Heatherwick Studio and Foster + Partners in Shanghai. The undulating rows of tassels shift to change the quality of the interiors. This facade design makes a superior statement with its technological systems, form, and striking material. 


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Namita Dhawan is an architect and a writer. She is extremely enthusiastic about architecture, design, history, research, and writing. She believes architecture is about power, it can provoke thoughts, and emotions, and control the actions of the users subtly.