- The exterior of the building makes a positive contribution to the public realm
- Facades are well considered and designed as an integral part of the building
The facades of a building visible from a street play an important role in contributing to the amenity and attractiveness of an area. Facades should therefore be designed to have a pleasing scale and appearance, proportion and rhythm, solid-to-void relationship and materiality. Care and attention should be given to their design to ensure the building stands up to critical observation from near and afar. It is essential that all building elevations are considered and designed as an integral part of the overall development.
Better Design Practice
Follow building lines and setbacks.
A common building line creates a continuity of building frontages and provides definition and enclosure of the street. This enhances the public realm and assists in integrating a new building into an existing built environment. Where buildings are set back, ensure the resulting outdoor spaces are useable and attractive.
Design facades to have a pleasing scale, proportion and rhythm, and solid-to-void relationship.
Ensure facades contribute to an interesting and lively public realm by incorporating:
- frequent doors and windows, with few blank walls
- narrow frontage buildings to give a more vertical rhythm
- projections and voids through the use of bay windows, balconies and porches
- lively internal uses visible from the exterior or projecting outside
- the use of materials and details that show care in design and execution; consider the treatment of the base, middle and top in the overall facade composition.
Use features such as sun shading, light shelves and bay windows to provide natural light to occupants and create an attractive, articulated facade.
Extruding and recessed balconies are an additional method of solar control which provide shading and articulation.
Create facades with richness - when viewed from both near and afar.
“The number and composition of elements on the building’s facade, and the contrasting relationships between them – as viewed from near and far – determine the visual quality and interest. Great urban architecture requires that at every scale, from a range of viewing distances, a building’s surface appears rich in detail” (Llewelyn Davies Yeang, Urban Design Compendium).
Balconies should be an integral consideration when designing facades.
Balconies, as well as corner windows and bay windows, can be used to articulate facades and improve passive surveillance. Recessed balconies should be opted for where possible because they provide better privacy, better weather protection and a more attractive form of architectural articulation than cantilevered balconies.
Enclosed balconies may be appropriate in certain locations, particularly when noise or prevailing winds are an issue. They should be designed to have the same qualities as an external balcony:
- the majority of glazing should be sliding, to allow the space to be opened up
- enough space should be provided for a table and chairs
- floor cladding should be weather resistant
- balconies should act as a direct extension of the main internal living area.
Think about the back of the building.
The rear facade is often highly visible, especially when the development is taller than surrounding buildings. The rear is usually where services and gallery access (a corridor with one side open to the exterior) are located. These need to be carefully considered to ensure they do not detract from the aesthetic of the building.
- Design gallery access as an integral part of the building - include screening and elements which visually integrate the gallery within the façade. Additional width around stairs and lifts can become informal social spaces. Additional width in the gallery will help with privacy issues when dwelling windows directly abut gallery spaces.
- Balconies on the rear elevation need to be spaced appropriately to prevent overlooking between apartments. Screening and opaque balustrades can help to improve privacy.
- Any blank walls should include changes in materials, patterns, colours or other design elements to provide some visual variation.
Integrate building service elements, such as drainage pipes, grilles, screens, ventilation louvres and car park entry doors into the overall facade design.
Service elements should be considered throughout the design process to ensure they are well integrated into the building’s overall form. Special consideration should be given to their aesthetic impact on visible roof areas and facades. For design guidance on integrating car parking and service vehicle entries into a building’s facade refer to the parking section of this guide: Accomodating the Car.