Strasbourg Cathédrale4

Facade of the Strasbourg Cathedral, Strasbourg, France

A facade or façade (pronounced /fəˈsɑːd/) is generally one side of the exterior of a building, especially the front, but also sometimes the sides and rear. The word comes from the French language, literally meaning "frontage" or "face".

In architecture, the facade of a building is often the most important from a design standpoint, as it sets the tone for the rest of the building. Many facades are historic, and local zoning regulations or other laws greatly restrict or even forbid their alteration.

Georgian facades added to earlier buildingsEdit

It was quite common in the Georgian period for existing houses in English towns to be given a new fashionable facade. For example in the City of Bath The Bunch of Grape in Westgate Street appears to be a Georgian building but the appearance is only skin deep and some of the the interior rooms sill have Jacobean plasterwork ceilings.[1]

Highrise facadesEdit

Mississippi mills nrc irc national fire laboratory facade test rig2

Facade fire test set-up at National Research Council (Canada) Mississippi Mills, Ontario Research Facility and National Fire Laboratory. Tests here evaluate facade fire behaviour in case fire breaks out of a window, which is simulated with a fire chamber and a large opening on one side.

Precast concrete facade

Interior of a suspended precast concrete facade with incomplete firestop made of stuffed rockwool.

In modern highrise buildings, the exterior walls are often suspended from the concrete floor slabs. Examples include curtain walls and precast concrete walls. The facade can at times be required to have a fire-resistance rating, for instance, if two buildings are very close together, to lower the likelihood of fire spreading from one building to another.

Whether rated or not, fire protection is always a design consideration both in terms of concern for the subject building as well as for the 1,100 °C. The melting point of aluminium is typically reached within minutes of the start of a fire. Firestops for such building joints can be qualified to UL 2079 -- Tests for Fire Resistance of Building Joint Systems. Putting fire sprinkler systems on each floor has a profoundly positive effect on the fire safety of buildings with curtain walls. In the case of the aforementioned fire, it was specifically the activation of the newly installed sprinkler system, which halted the advance of the fire and allowed effective suppression.

Some building codes also limit the percentage of window area in exterior walls. When the exterior wall is not rated, the perimeter slab edge becomes a junction where rated slabs are abutting an unrated wall. For rated walls, one may also choose rated windows and fire doors, to maintain that wall's rating.

Film setsEdit

On a film set, many of the buildings are only facades, which are far cheaper than actual buildings, and not subject to building codes. These are simply held up with supports from behind, and sometimes have boxes for actors to step in and out of from the front if necessary for a scene.


See alsoEdit


  1. Jean Manco. Bath's lost era, "Bath and the Great Rebuilding", Bath History vol. 4, (Bath 1992). First published in Bath City Life Summer 1992. Retrieved 22 June 2010


Façades: Principles of Construction. By Ulrich Knaack, Tillmann Klein, Marcel Bilow and Thomas Auer. Boston/Basel/Berlin: Birkhaüser-Verlag, 2007. ISBN 978-3-7643-7961-2 (German) ISBN 978-3-7643-7962-9 (English)

Further readingEdit

be:Фасад be-x-old:Фасад ca:Façana cs:Fasáda da:Facade (arkitektur) de:Fassade et:Fassaad es:Fachada eo:Fasado fa:نما (ساختمان) fr:Façade (architecture) gl:Fachada io:Fasado it:Facciata lt:Fasadas hu:Oromzat nl:Gevel nds-nl:Gèvel ja:ファサード no:Fasade pl:Fasada pt:Fachada ro:Fațadă ru:Фасад simple:Facade sk:Fasáda fi:Julkisivu sv:Fasad tr:Cephe (mimarlık) uk:Фасад zh:立面

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