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a modern facade design of a commercial building with glass and composite materials

4 Amazing Facades that feature Innovative Facade design strategies

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If you are an architect or an ordinary person who is curious about the building appearance, or even who are seeking to have a building face with your own taste, here you are in a right place because I want to talk about architectural facade and building facade design.

“We don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.”

This sentence is a famous old adage telling you that making a good first impression may be all that you need to do. I can see how it might be confusing at first glance.

“Appearance" as the most impressive item, is more important than you think, and making a good first impression may be an essential thing with regard to attracting people to everything, even a building.

What do you first think of when the talk of building appearance comes up? I think the building facade is the first thing might pop up in your mind. So it should be attractive, but the facade isn't just an aesthetic element; it's an essential parameter for building performance. Facades form an integral part of building aesthetic as well as building performance.

The façade as the building face and the principal front of a building, tells us that the structure has something special to offer. it brings the building to life and provides the opportunity to create a character and personality to a building and embodied the building‘s character.

Over the years, engineers have created different types of facades with various materials. And there are many architects that are experts in “Facade design”. Here I want to bring you the top 4 types of building facade that turned into a revolution in the architecture world. So stay tuned.

the commercial building with modern black and white facade

1. Breathing facade: a famous one in building facade design

"Nature" is one of the wonderful blessings of God that have been an inspiring concept to tackle the world’s biggest challenges. Mimicking nature is not a new approach but has been recently reformulated under the scientific term" "biomimicry".

But what is biomimicry? You might well ask.

I'll shed a light on what "biomimicry" is. But first, let's have a go at "breathing facade design".

Breathing facade is a kind of building facade that has been inspired by skin texture, it could significantly help buildings to breathe and have better air conditions.

The scientific term "biomimicry" aims to innovate non-biological systems inspired by nature. The various methods of thermal adaptation to the hot climate found in nature provide a wide source of inspiration to develop new concepts for achieving thermal comfort. Biomimicry introduces "breathing skin" as a bio-inspired idea, found in the skin of living organisms. So based on this concept, the buildings with breathing facade design, provide a rich connection between the exterior environment and interior spaces, and they breathe through thousands of pores.

a building with a breathing white facade of a commercial building

Some examples of breathing facades can help you to clarify the matter:

a. Bloom (a metal mesh facade)

"Bloom" is one of the breathing facades, in the better word it is a metal mesh that reacts to Heat, it connects some items all together, such as material experimentation, computational form, pattern-making, and structural innovation, into an environmentally responsive form.

Bloom is a breathing smart facade and is made of metal sheets; the metal sheets curl when heated. The form’s responsive surface shades and ventilates specific areas under the shell as the temperature rises.

The material of this facade is a laminate of two different metals, each side reacts differently to sunlight because the thermal expansion coefficient is different in each one. So when the surface gets hot, the thin panels on the shade curl up to allow more air to pass through to space and when it cools down, it closes up again.

bloom, a metal mesh façade, one of breathing façade that let the building to breath

b. Operable Skin (RMIT school facade)

RMIT School is known as “Design Hub” located in Melbourne, Australia, and completed in May 2012, and designed by Sean Godsell Architects. They sheathed this building facade design in thousands of small, sandblasted glass circles—each affixed to a central rod.

These rods pivot automatically to facilitate (or block) the flow of air through the facade according to the moisture and temperature inside the building. This is a simple but smart way.

One of the interesting features of this facade is that it has the capability of collecting solar energy throughout the day.

a special facade with some rods which pivot automatically to facilitate the flow of air according to the moisture and temperature inside the building

c. A Light-Responsive facade (Abu Dhabi towers)

The facade of Abu Dhabi towers are sheathed in a thin layer of glass—fashionable, but the climate of Dhabi is a desert climate. So there is a sunscreen that deflects some of the glare without permanently blocking the views, and the architects at Aedas designed it in the best way available. They used the series of fiberglass rosettes—based on traditional Islamic mashrabiya—which open and close in response to the temperature of the facade.

2. Parametric facade: a mathematical function

The parametric architecture is like a mathematical function with a set of data as input that together will determine output. There’s an algorithm in this function that creates the output.

The parametric facade is a facade design using the specific algorithm. Architects take computers to try all solutions for these algorithms and find the best one for us. Parametric texture and undulated surfaces apply in parametric designs. It could be inspired by nature. When we look deeper, we realize that breathing facade is a kind of parametric facades.

As we said earlier, the building skin is an essential parameter for building performance. Also, it is a medium through which intelligence can be imparted to a building system to respond to an environmental stimulus. So the key characteristic of an effective smart building facade is its ability to save energy through its texture.

Powerful architectural software is necessary for organic facade design, such as Rhino, Grasshopper, Revit, and T-splines. But don't forget that the creative brain is more important than software.

a parametric façade of a residential building that is made with break

a parametric façade of a commercial building that is made with expanded metal

3. Green facade: bringing nature to your life

You can bring nature to your life with Green building facade design and vertical garden design. They are slowly making their way up the ladder, becoming more common by the day.

It's the best positive event happening in today's urban life. To achieve that architects should come up with new ideas and concepts in green architecture and green facade design.

Growing climbing plants up across the building facade, grown plants in garden beds at its base, installed container planting at different levels across the building, could help to make a fantastic green building design.

Which plants are the best ones for green facade? It strongly depends on the climate of the site and the method of climbing plant attachment. Selecting a proper and safe support system plays an essential role in green facade design. It can be a cable or a trellis.

These supports may be attached to the building or mounted independently. Also, you can consider the available space for plant growth. I mean the distance between the structural support and wall because it will impact on and climate control and plant performance.

Vo Trong Nghia’s Babylon, an amazing Hotel in Vietnam with a green facade design, is an excellent sample to clarify the matter. It wrapped in a flourishing veil of plants and vines.

The Vo Trong Nghia’s Babylon hotel in Vietnam, a green façade design

4. Organic facade: free-form but with following the rules

It’s NOT about the sustainable facades or green architecture!

There are some misconceptions around organic architecture like having tree forms or bringing nature into your buildings, or something like this. But these concepts are especially for sustainable architecture, as I said above.

In Organic facades, you can choose free forms, but the forms should follow architectural rules, such as harmony and balance. Nature patterns are the best source of architectural concepts in organic design. Though they may seem free-form, they follow strict and efficient rules helping them respond well to their environment’s strains.

Plastics, fiber reinforced composite, and many other materials enable architects and artists to design and construct Curve Works and free-form shapes and other organic structures.

heydar aliyev center, by zaha hadid, an organic building facade design


As I said above, The facade brings the building to life and provides the opportunity to create a character and personality to a building and embodied the building‘s character. It should be attractive, but the facade isn't just an aesthetic element; it's an essential parameter for building performance. Facades form an integral part of building aesthetic as well as building performance.

Thanks to technology, facade design has changed according to Innovative architectural design strategies, I brought you four types of innovative facades (breathing facade, green facade, parametric facade, and organic facade) above. I love to know any new architectural concepts for building facade design. Share your ideas with me, and comment below.

Kate Silva
Author: Kate Silva
I studied civil engineering at university. I have worked as a civil engineer and urban designer in many consulting and engineering companies. After a few years, I surprisingly got interested in architecture and design. I write on architecture and design, too. I hope you will enjoy my articles and I would kindly regard if you share your ideas and comments about them.

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