Maple are recognised leaders in the design, manufacture and installation of architectural façades. But there’s more to these seemingly aesthetic features than meets the eye.
Here, we provide the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. What exactly are they? How can they be used? And what are the most important things to think about when designing or specifying architectural façades?
WHAT IS AN ARCHITECTURAL FAÇADE?
- Architectural façades include decorative panels, fins and blades
- Architectural façades can provide solar shading and weather protection
Architectural façades refer to all the solar shading, weather protection and aesthetic features that fix to the external ‘face’ of a building. In the past, it has included brise soleil, climate façades, architectural panels and louvres. However, as the different systems have evolved in line with their unique functions and characteristics, the term ‘architectural façade’ is today more often used for decorative panels, fins and blades.
WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF AN ARCHITECTURAL FAÇADE?
- Architectural façades can significantly enhance a building’s visual impact
- Architectural façades can prevent light or noise pollution
Architectural façades are an important aesthetic component of modern buildings, including car parks. They often have some practical qualities, such as enhancing solar shading performance and improving energy efficiency. On multi-storey car parks, they can cut out noise or light pollution from within, while allowing fresh air to enter – or act as a safety feature. However, they are primarily designed simply to look great.
WHAT TYPES OF ARCHITECTURAL FAÇADE ARE AVAILABLE?
- Solid, perforated or mesh panels
- Linear blades
- Twisted fins
Maple’s architectural façade systems are bespoke – the result of close collaboration between architects and our design teams from Day One. However, most designs will fall into one of the following categories:
Solid panels – Easy-to-install panels cloak one or more elevations to hide the sub-structure and provide often striking visual impact though shape or colour variation. Some innovative designs fix the panels at angles to create a textured, 3D effect.
Perforated panels – Panels are perforated (or laser cut) to create a custom design or repeating pattern that can extend across an entire building façade. Panels protect the interior from the elements while allowing natural light and ventilation.
Mesh panels – Woven or expanded mesh façades offer a range of design options for architects, as well as providing practical benefits of screening and security.
Linear blades – Vertical or horizontal span the face of a building. Similar to brise soleil but offering only limited solar protection, and installed mainly to provide architectural interest.
Twisted fin – Thin blades in aluminium can be twisted and fixed to the building envelope to create intriguing 3D shapes that catch the light. Special spring-loaded fixings are required to absorb natural building movement.
WHAT MATERIALS ARE BEST FOR ARCHITECTURAL FAÇADES?
- High-grade aluminium
- Sustainably sourced timber
- Stainless steel or Corten
Panels are manufactured in high-grade aluminium for its superior strength-to-weight qualities, although mesh panels may also use expanded stainless steel. Corten steel, etched with a specific design, can create a striking effect. Linear blades are typically aluminium or wood (or powder-coated to look like wood), but steel and even glass can be used.
WHAT COLOUR AND FINISH OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE?
The endless range of colour options for powder-coating aluminium can be a more cost-effective and more sustainable alternative to wood. Advanced coatings are also UV resistant, and retain their colour. Anodising also protects aluminium against corrosion and allows architects to incorporate different colours, texture and patterns.
WHAT ABOUT FIXINGS?
Maple is applying advanced technology to the development of fixings ― for example, thermal break brackets stop heat (or cold) being conducted through a curtain wall.
For more information about architectural façades, for help and advice on Maple’s range of products, or to discuss a customer project, contact one of our consultants.