The right facade from the start
The facade is the meeting point of virtually every other building discipline and our building envelope designs integrate with the structure, building services and others. By understanding the strategic aims of the project in its earliest stages, we can define how the building envelope can achieve the best outcome. We specialise in facades that are easily assembled and can be procured with minimum impact to cost and risk factors.
We invest in research, developing ideas like design for disassembly and recovery, and finding ways to apply resource-saving, circular economy principles. Our research encompasses predicted future weather patterns and changing definitions of comfort and discomfort. Our combined experience is brought together in one of the industry's most robust specifications, which is a critical guide for the successful design and delivery of every project.
Arup developed together with the architects and in close cooperation with the industry a modular facade system consisting of prefabricated cassettes combining translucent textured glass on the front with a folded metal reflector on the back. The optical interplay of reflective, translucent and transparent surfaces results in a smooth and shimmering skin transforming continuously over the course of the day depending on the lighting conditions and viewing angle.
Realising design, reducing complexity
No matter how extraordinary the proposed vision, our facade designs fulfil the many complex functions required. Our rigorous design and analysis process finds the best balance between safety and security, efficient use of energy, daylighting and comfort. By rationalising the facade design, whether to simplify geometry or to introduce cost-saving repetition, we make sure it can be competitively tendered, drawing on close collaboration between Arup’s many disciplines.
Northeastern University ISEC
One of the defining characteristics of this building is its complex facade. The bronze, curved fins march across the curving office block, undulating in plan and split in elevation to create a free-form shape. In combination with the high-performance glazed curtain wall and the building’s mechanical system, they balance the facade’s thermal, daylighting, and comfort performance requirements.
We develop our own digital tools to enhance our work, pushing facades to work harder and bring clients into a collaborative design process. They allow us to carry out early analysis of massing, orientation, views and energy use, and can guide discussions and provide real-time demonstrations of a proposed facade. They also record every detail about the facade for future reference, information that can be used to model the facade, define on-site inspection regimes, and document future maintenance strategies.
Tools like Arup Solar, Inspect, Maintain, and Street are part of our evolving digital platform, helping us to define and document the facade’s design and operation in a more collaborative way.
Prolong, upgrade or replace?
There are critical moments in a building's lifecycle when strategic decisions need to be made. Should you prolong its life through performance or fabric upgrades or transform the facade entirely? We advise our clients on how to adapt existing building envelopes to perform for contemporary and future use.
In certain jurisdictions, listed buildings present highly specific planning and legal requirements. Our heritage experts provide conservation services to assess the significance of facade details and specify appropriate programmes of work.
Analyse, reveal, improve
We also offer a comprehensive diagnostic and survey service. This includes system and materials failure investigations, facade fire safety audits and leakages or thermal performance issues, pre-purchase or due diligence, change of lease, defects liability, condition surveys and maintenance planning. What we learn from each project feeds back into our designs for both new build or other existing buildings.
V & A Dundee
Arup helped to transform this prize winning design from a vision into reality. To invoke the appearance of a cliff face, a complex algorithm was developed to translate the twisting geometry into a series of horizontal, straight reconstituted stone panels.
Jewel Changi Airport
This distinctive domed façade is made of glass and steel, and glitters in the sunlight. At the apex of the roof is an oculus through which water is channelled to the building’s centre – creating a stunning waterfall feature.
Engineering Building University of Leicester
The refurbishment of this heritage building maintained the highest design and conservation standards. The restoration was as authentic as possible, including replacing 2,500 glass panels, each unique to fit with the existing warped structure.
Discover how our team can help
You can access our facade engineering experts through regional consultants around the world.