Façade systems comprise the structural elements that provide lateral and vertical resistance to wind and other actions, and the building envelope elements that provide the weather resistance and thermal, acoustic and fire resisting properties. The types of façade system that are used depends on the type and scale of the building and on local planning requirements that may affect the building’s appearance in relation to its neighbours. For example, brickwork is often specified as the external façade material, but the modern way of constructing the inner leaf consists of light steel wall elements (called infill walling) that have effectively replaced more traditional blockwork.
Other types of façade materials may be attached to light steel walling, such as insulated render, large boards, metallic panels and terracotta tiles. A wide variety of facade treatments and shapes may be created using light steel wall including large ribbon windows, curved and inclined walls, and with projections such as solar shading or balconies. Façade materials may be mixed to enhance the aesthetics of the building. It is also possible to pre-fabricate light steel wall panels with their cladding pre-attached.
In multi-storey buildings, unitised curtain walling systems have been developed that are attached to the floors or edge beams of the primary steel structure. Steel and glass are also widely used in façade and roofing systems, and the local attachments are in the form of corten steel brackets.
Other interfaces that affect the design of the façade include the attachment of brickwork to steel edge beams, the design of projecting balconies, solar shading and attachments of parapets.