Last edited 16 Nov 2017


In its broadest sense, the term ‘façade’ can refer to any predominantly vertical face of a building envelope, such as an external wall. Consequently, a building may have more than one façade, such as the north façade, south façade and so on. Terraced buildings may only have two façades, a front façade and a rear façade.

Sometimes the term ‘façade’ is used to refer more specifically to external faces of buildings that have particular architectural emphasis, such as an imposing design, decoration, the main entrance to the building and so on. This will typically be the front of the building, facing onto a street or other public open space, but it may also be other faces depending on their architectural treatment and importance.

The word ‘façade’ is thought to be derived from the Latin 'facia', via the French ‘façade’ meaning ‘face’ or ‘frontage’. It was first used in English to refer to the front, or face of a building, but it has subsequently taken on an additional meaning in relation to concealing something behind a deceptive appearance, such as a person hiding their true feelings.

Considerations that might influence the design of a façade include:

  • Site, topography and climate.
  • The relationship to the street and access routes.
  • The requirement for entrances, windows and other openings.
  • Stylistic preferences.
  • Requirements for climatic modification.
  • The need for security and privacy.
  • Available skills and materials.
  • Regulations.
  • Context and planning restrictions.

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