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Delft University of Technology: Façade design and engineering: complexity made simple

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Understand the fundamental technology behind façade design and construction and the impact of the various components in facilitating the construction of sustainable, energy efficient, aesthetic and modern buildings.

6 weeks
3–4 hours per week
Progress at your own speed
Optional upgrade available

About this course

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The building façade forms the interface between outside conditions and the habitable indoor climate, where we spend most of our time. So its design and construction seriously affect the performance of our buildings in terms of sustainability, energy efficiency, aesthetics and comfort.

Façade technology has advanced rapidly in the last decades and has become a key component of the modern building process. Understanding the complexity of façade construction is crucial for architects, engineers and building professionals in order to keep control over the design and engineering processes, to keep within budgeted construction costs and to support the creation of modern looking, energy efficient, sustainable and comfortable buildings.This course will provide a first insight into façades and the technology involved in their construction, from a grounded and practical perspective. It focuses on key aspects to address the complexity of façade design and engineering: its general principles, construction systems, details and tolerances, materials, geometrical complexity, sustainability and construction site processes. Consequently, learners will gain general knowledge of façade engineering, backed with technical information, which will give them the tools to explain façadedesign decisions and their potential impact on the overall performance of the building.

TU Delft holds a leading position in the façade field, marked by 15 years of education, research and applied projects delivered in close collaboration with the built industry. Therefore, learners will benefit from an exposure to a wide array of façade experts from academia and practice. Led by U. Knaack and M. Bilow, architects and experienced educators in the field of façades, the course takes a practical approach, providing insights and providing a comprehensive picture of the complexity behind building façades. The course includes visits to building sites, architecture firms, local experts and manufacturing companies, to reveal the fundamentals of façade design with technical information directly from the source.

This course has been designed by the founding members of TU Delft’s Architectural Façades & Products Research Group, in association with the European Façade Network, which comprises 10 European institutions with façade education programmes.

At a glance

  • Institution: DelftX
  • Subject: Architecture
  • Level: Introductory
  • Prerequisites:

    Background in Architecture, Civil Engineering or similar preferred but not required to enroll in the course.

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English
  • Associated skills: Aesthetics, Construction, Renewable Energy, Research

What you'll learn

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  • Explore the main principles involved in façade design in the context of sustainability.
  • Categorize different façade technologies and materials, their potential and shortcomings.
  • Incorporate façades’ lines of defense (air, wind, water) systematically into individual designs.
  • Recognize structural demands on façades and tolerances, and integrate them into façade development.

Week 1 - Principles of Façades

Identify the idea of a building envelope. Discuss the basic principles behind its different functions, its construction elements and the design strategies required for successful performance. The module will place particular emphasis on the relation between façades and energy, sustainability and circularity.

Week 2 – Façade Systems

Explore different façade systems, such as monolithic walls, curtain-walls (stick and unitized systems), and double-skins. Understand their main construction principles and components, and analyze their suitability in different contexts considering advantages and disadvantages.

Week 3 – Façade Materials

Identify the main materials involved in façade construction from the perspective of production processes and their application as façade components. Assess the potential impact on the different functions and general performance of the envelope.

Week 4 – Details and Tolerances

Explain strategies for façade detailing, identifying the main structural requirements and addressing movement and tolerances in different façade systems. Experience how general engineering and structural testing of components and systems is developed on working sites

Week 5 – Complex Façades

Explore iconic buildings to find out how their design motivations inspired the way they were engineered and built. Understand the arguments and reasons for different engineering strategies and systems during design and construction stages.

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