The Changing Façade Language

Façades are no longer treated merely as an aesthetic element, rather they are now evolving (Indian context) to adapt the socio-physical context of its existence. In a brief conversation with Apoorva Nandish, Dr Prashant Reddy shares a remarkable acumen on the trending façade systems and their associated challenges


Building façade besides being a weather shield, also acts as a noise barrier. Kindly explain about the acoustics of a façade – technology, systems and techniques involved.
As the world’s population is increasing, more and more people are migrating to urban centres from rural areas. This migration is most profound in India itself. This has led to a dramatic increase in the noise pollution levels in cities, thus facilitating the need for noise reducing façades for buildings.
Acoustic properties of façade cladding materials are measured mainly using the following parameters:
– Sound Reflection from the surface of the cladding material, which is governed by its NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) value. The NRC value of a cladding material primarily indicates the percentage of sound that it absorbs. Good quality façade cladding materials have NRC values between 0.15 and 0.20. This indicates that they absorb 15 -20% of sound waves and reflect the rest.
– Sound Transmission through the cladding material represented by STC (Sound Transmission Class) which reflects the decibel reduction in noise that the cladding material can provide. For instance, a STC rating of 30 dB means that there is a reduction in sound of 30 dB between the two sides of the cladding material.
With the recent advances in technology, architects these days have access to high quality façade cladding materials which act as robust noise barriers. At the same time, new techniques are being used today to further improve the noise reduction capabilities such as:
– Using micro perforation to increase the sound absorption area resulting in higher reduction in the transmission of sound through the façade cladding material.
– Lining the façade cladding material with sound absorption material such as plasterboard.

Of late, there is a dramatic evolution in the façade design. They are non-coplanar surfaces and organic shapes. So, what are the challenges façade system facing?
Façade systems today have to be flexible enough to allow an architect the freedom to use his creativity to give shape to his imagination. A good façade system will allow the designer to make perforations, bend the material without affecting its strength and structural stability. It should also allow the designer the option to print his own design onto the cladding material. Compared with traditional manufacturing, a façade panel has a higher degree of customization which is reflected by not only different designs for different projects, but also different façade panels even in a project, so fast and flexible production is required as needed.
With the emergence of new materials and new technologies, and people’s constant pursuit of different building appearances, façade fabrication becomes bigger and bigger in size and increasingly complex in shape, accompanied by increasing difficulties in field installation. In this case, if the delivery sequence and installation process are not well managed, the installation positions of façade panels may be confused, thus causing project delay and the waste of resources.
The most critical element in the complete façade assembly is the fasteners and the mechanism used for that. Before setting up the façade system, proper modelling and calculations are done to ensure that the design and the customization will not affect the stability of the faced system in any way.
What we need is an accurate data integration environment incorporating building design, detailed joint design, and field installation together covering a series of management activities, including façade fabrication production, positioning, detection, cost estimation and risk control.

In the world of high-rise structures, how does façade system relate to the safety aspect (fire & lift) of the building? What’s the nominal parameter followed?
Façade installation is a scientific process and needs to be designed as per the requirement of the project. Complete calculation of wind load, deflection criteria in the panel, framing distance and the bonding strength of the sealant used for gluing need to be evaluated before the façades are fixed. Above a certain height, both tensile load (out ward pull or otherwise) and shear load (dead weight) come into play and hence certain methods of fixing façades such as gluing are not preferred as they would fail if subject to torque and shear at the same time. In such situations, other methods of façade installation such as riveting are preferred.
As far as the fire safety aspect is concerned, good façade cladding materials these days follow the strictest fire safety norms. Essentially all cladding materials must be flame retardant, which means that they inhibit, suppress, or delay the production of flames to prevent the spread of fire.

Kindly brief us about the company’s new product innovation in regards to environment cautiousness.
has made considerable investments in R&D for producing sustainable products. With 65 per cent of the panel being made from natural fibres that consist largely of wood processed into ‘kraft and décor papers’, where the wood is the by-product of sawmills, Max Exterior Panels from are totally sustainable. The panels are also free of organic halogen compounds that are found in greenhouse gases and PVC. They are freeof asbestos and wood protection agents as well as Sulphur, Mercury and Cadmium.
The exhaust air generated during the drying process used in the preparation of the panels is treated through regenerative thermal oxidation for which FunderMax was given the Klima: aktiv award for best practices by the Austrian Energy Agency and Austrian Federal Ministry of Environment. This process reduces the carbon emissions at the production site to the tune of ca.10,000 tons per annum.
The finishes offered too are all weatherproof, optimally lightfast, highly durable and can be combined with almost every kind of FunderMax décor. The silk-matte look comes with a feel of fine hammer embossed finish. The glossy finish offers a high-class touch that accentuates any décor. The specially printed hexagon pattern surface is slip free and ideal for special emphasis.

As kinetic façade systems are positively being adapted in India, how do you envisage the future prospect of this industry?
Kinetic Façade systems are completely unique in the façade industry today. Architects today are looking for designs that are out of the ordinary as well as adaptive to the environment. This is where kinetic façade systems come in. Not only do they give a unique and innovative look to the building by offering designers the opportunity for distinctive architectural impact, Kinetic Façade Systems are one of the most effective ways to reduce air conditioning loads.
One example of a kinetic façade is an automated louver system. Radiation from the sun is transmitted, absorbed and reflected by the louvers. The automated louvers track the position of the sun increasing the system’s shading effectiveness and reducing glare. On overcast days, the louvers open to maximize the natural daylight into the building.
With more emphasis on energy efficiency and adherence to stringent Green Building norms, higher spending power of the average consumers and with availability of architects always eager to experiment and create new designs, the future of the Kinetic Façade Systems have never been brighter.

About the Author
Dr Prashanth Reddy is BE in Mechanical Engineering, MBA in Marketing and a PhD and has over 22 years of experience in Senior Management Positions having worked for Multinational companies from Lifestyle products to Industrial Products. He has travelled extensively across the country and to international destinations & is familiar with various cultures. He has undergone many Management Training programs which include different International programs.
His PhD research topic was “A Critical Study on Change Management with Reference to Selection & Role of Expats in MNCs based in India” which was submitted to Golden State University, USA. He believes & practices the saying, “when the going gets tough, the tough gets going”.

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