Facades have the ability to transform how we see architectural spaces and, in recent decades, glazed curtain walling systems have become increasingly popular – on commercial and residential buildings alike.
Enclosing the envelope of the building, there are two main types of curtain walling: stick and unitised facades. These can be adapted from their standard design to create bespoke features which are engineered to emphasise geometry or a particular aesthetic appearance. As a result, curtain wall systems equip architects with the freedom to create an aesthetically led façade which meets the specific performance requirements of the building.
Spanning multiple floors and covering a large surface of the building, curtain wall forms a significant part of the envelope. As such, systems can directly impact key performance considerations, including water tightness and thermal characteristics, daylighting, ventilation regimes and acoustics. Another fundamental part in selecting the correct curtain wall is the accommodation of building movement.
The taller a building gets, the more movement can be expected, creating the potential for a range of building movements such as windsway, inter-storey drift, differential slab deflections, settlement, creep and even seismic loads. Although some types of movement are more typical outside the UK, it is important for every aspect of the building envelope to be designed to accommodate such movements.