What is a screen façade or façade screening?
A screen façade (also known as façade screening, decorative screening, or a tensile façade) is a tensile membrane structure as the outermost layer of a building or structure. As a lightweight structure, a screen façade is a cost-effective option as it uses less steel than a traditional metal or metal mesh façade.
What are the benefits of a screen façade?
- Reduce Solar Heat Gain, Energy Costs
A screen façade can increase the energy efficiency of a structure by reducing the solar heat gain. A façade will block UV rays from entering the building, lowering the temperature inside a building without activating an air conditioning unit. A screen façade will still allow diffused light into the structure, eliminating the need for lights to be on all day near windows. Screen facades have become one of the most cost-effective methods for increasing the energy efficiency of a building, with the added benefit of the aesthetic design. Imagine the gas efficiency of a hybrid car with the body of a Ferrari.
- Low-Cost Upgrade For Outdated Architecture
A screen façade can give an older structure with an outdated appearance new life without demolishing and rebuilding the structure. Screen facades can often be installed over the existing structure, significantly decreasing the cost of construction.
- Beautification Of Utilitarian/Functional Structures
Utilitarian structures are typically built purely with functionality in mind while keeping the price tag as low as possible. An attractive façade, such as glass curtain walls or metal panels, meant spending beyond the budget for a utilitarian structure such as a parking garage. However, with screen facades, a beautiful façade can be installed at lower costs than glass or metal façades. The parking garages and government buildings no longer must be an eye-sore in a gorgeous downtown or residential area.
- Reflect Culture Of Region Or Branding
Because the membranes can be printed on, design opportunities are limitless. Corporate offices and retail locations can install screen facades featuring their branding or product(s). Owners of a structure can use a screen façade to reflect the culture of their business or region. Alternatively, a white or reflective membrane, in combination with LED lights, can create a dynamic visual that will make your building stand out, regardless of what building is next to it.
- Lightweight Structures Can Be Installed With Minimal Structural Requirements
Screen facades are lightweight in nature, meaning there are far fewer structural requirements compared to any other material. Membranes are lighter than glass, metal, or masonry; additionally, the membranes require far less support than other façade materials. This keeps costs low and ensures that the façade will not cause needless stresses to a structure, especially older structures using screen facades to increase the structure’s service life.
What structures commonly suit screen facades?
Façade screening can give an older structure a modern appeal. Because the membrane is lightweight and the structural support requirements are minimal, the building doesn’t need to undergo an expensive renovation to transform the exterior appeal of the building. A screen façade can transform a utilitarian, uninspiring structure into an architectural feature. Unsightly concrete structures such as parking garages can become beautiful icons. Commercial offices and retail locations can apply branding on their building with a screen façade, promoting the products or culture of their business.
What are the design limitations of a screen façade?
Essentially, none. Screen facades are incredibly flexible in design. Graphics can be printed directly onto the membrane, allowing artwork, advertising, or branding to be displayed on the building with a screen façade. With a steel frame, 3D shapes can be created. Cable edged membrane with projection arms creates fin-like structures. Using angles and negative space can help create a unique visual. Screen facades can cover portions of a structure or completely wrap the building.
PFEIFER Structures have been advancing the development of kinetic tensile structures; these kinetic structures can be implemented as a façade as well.
Why are screen facades more beneficial than metal mesh facades?
In our LEARN article “Why Are Tensile Membrane Facades More Beneficial Than Metal Mesh Facades?“, we discuss 8 factors where tensile membrane facades have an advantage versus metal mesh facades. These factors include printing capabilities, reduced weight, reduced life cycle cost, glare reduction, and solar heat gain reduction. You can read the full LEARN article with all 8 advantages here: https://pfeifer-structures.com/tensile-membrane-facades/