Different types of glass facades and their advantages

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glass facade

Façade is a French origin word meaning the front face. The use of glass in the exterior facades provided more light and a good ambiance to the occupant of the building which gave rise to the increasing use of glass. Glass wrapping up the building exterior is called glass façade. In cities, whether residential or commercial, they tend to glamorize themselves by way of the owner’s stylistic choices. One of the most preferred ways to instantly enhance the style quotient of a tall building is a glass façade. Apart from lending a contemporary yet open look to a modern-day building, it also offers sound and heat insulation, making them a favourite choice. Modern building designs and constructions use an extensive amount of glass facades due to the simplicity of the materials and wide ranges of designs are possible due to the availability of various design options.

The Curtain Wall is designed to resist and handle all the imposed loads on it as well as keep air and water from penetrating the building. The loads imposed on the curtain wall are transferred to the building structure through a structural interface that attaches the mullions to the building. The curtain wall is designed for both Dead Load and Wind Load.

Advantages of Glass Facades

  • The materials used in glass facades are extremely strong and durable. They’re designed to resist major weather elements, including high winds, rain etc.
  • A unique transparent material that allows light to pass through it so that the objects behind the glass are visible clearly.
  • Has a smooth glossy surface, so it is dustproof and can be cleaned efficiently. Unlike other materials, it is easy to maintain.
  • Available in a wide range of colours, and when we combine the glass sheet in laminated or insulated units, it changes in colour and appearance.
  • Glass is UV stable since it is not affected by ultraviolet radiation and hence cracks, discoloration or disintegration will not occur.
  • Glass is an excellent insulator and does not readily conduct electricity,
  • Glass is corrosion resistant, and only under certain conditions, the glass is chemically attacked.
  •  It can withstand the effects of the wind, rain, or the sun and can retain its appearance and integrity in most of the given conditions.
  • It can transmit 75%-80% of the natural light in both the directions, something which no other substitute does.
  • It can be made translucent or molded in different shapes, it can offer a lot of flexibility to the architect in terms of usage in the building.
  • Glass does not rust so it is better than iron and does not succumb to its surrounding environmental conditions.
  • Reduces weight on the foundation of the building and makes the building lighter as compared to walls.
  • In addition to all of the functional benefits of a glass facade, one of the biggest advantages is how it looks.

Different types of glass facades

Curtain Wall Facades

Non-load bearing curtain-like structures are attached to the floor of the building in which the façade is to be incorporated. Such facades have to support only their weight and not the dead load weight imposed by the building. Connections exist between the curtain wall and the building’s columns and floors so that the weight of the wind can be transferred from the façade.

facade-curtain-wall
Curtain Wall Facades

Storefront Wall Curtain Facades

Non-load bearing façade type designed primarily for ground floors. It spans between the ground and the roof of the building above it and offers optimal thermal and sound insulation when constructed using specialised glasses. It is a cost-effective option and can be customised.

Storefront Wall Curtain Facades

Framing Facades

Stick system

Built from long vertical extrusions or support mullions that are attached to the building’s structure. Typically, shorter horizontal extrusions span between the vertical mullions, creating a rectangular frame that binds the glass on all four sides.

Stick system

Unitized Curtain Wall

Composed of large units that are pre-assembled and glazed in the factory before shipping to the building site for installation. With unitized curtain walls forming the core component of the external envelope of the building, thermal efficiency, sound transmission and fire safety become the key performance criteria of the system.

Semi Unitized curtain wall- A type of structural glazing where the primary structural framing components are erected individually as an erector set. In this set, the vertical mullions are attached first to the floor slabs and the horizontals are attached to the vertical mullions to resemble a grid.

Unitized Curtain Wall

Frameless Facades

Frameless Glazing systems are more commonplace in modern-day architectural glazing. As a system, frameless glazing offers huge potential within architectural glazing design. Frameless Glazing is an excellent way of maximising the level of natural daylight transmitted through a structure, whilst mitigating the effect on both the glass structures’ internal and external aesthetics.

Frameless Facades

Tension system

These facades use high tensile cables or stainless steel rods to impose loads of the facade on the main structure. This decreases the amount of solid structural elements visible on the project, therefore increasing the transparency of the facade. The two main types in the industry are tension rod facades and cable net walls.

Tension system

Conclusion

Recent advancement in tints and coatings have now ensured that glass has exceptional performance not only aesthetically and functionally. Architects, developers and users can impart transparency, vibrancy and vitality to a building facade the way glass does. Combine this with its unparalleled durability and it being practically maintenance-free throughout its lifetime and glass will remain the topmost material choice when designing a facade, and arguably rightly so.