The elevation design holds great importance in the architecture of a building as it not only makes the building visually appealing but also adds to its environmental and commercial value.
The four sides of a building are needed to be designed and constructed in a wholesome way in order to raise its overall value. Generally, elevation designs include all the sides of an official or residential building. However, a common trend among the masses is to focus only on the front elevation design (facade).
The best way for an architect or consultant to get into action is by studying the contexts of past projects and using the experience to tailor an appropriate elevation design for the client.Furthermore,factors like the climate, prerequisites, location, etc. must also be taken into consideration.
A well-planned building elevation provides sufficient sunlight, avoids excessive noises and flares, and maintains the building temperature while reducing energy consumption. Elevation designing requires a comprehensive study and understanding of sustainable architecture and development.
Basics of a good front elevation design
There are two types of projects that an architect comes across. Some buildings are designed to be made iconic. In these buildings, the elevation design comes out from the overall structure and form of the building. Then there are other buildings that are mainly dependent on their elevation design for their aesthetic appeal.
Both the projects require a unique and varied front elevation approach.
While the designers, consultants, and architects are constantly looking for modern, innovative and fresh ideas, they must not compromise with the basic rules and conditions of designing and construction.
Harmony between all the elements of building elevation:
The architect must ensure to maintain a harmony between all the elements of the building elevation. Having a unity will make the components of the front elevation seem one and whole instead of parts. The various ways to achieve this unity are:
- Use a specific element and follow the method of Repetition throughout the elevation design to form a pattern.
- Follow the method of Continuity of line, literally and/or visually. Architects can also follow the continuity of a grid or any other pattern.
Keep in view the drainage and water issues:
A well-planned elevation design gives proper thought to water related issues. Entry of rainwater inside the building is a common problem experienced in most of the poorly-designed buildings. To overcome that, the elevation design should be prepared with deep insight and precision.
Some tips to avoid this hindrance:
- Installation of retractable awning.
- Installation of outdoor blinds in the form of PVC sheets, mesh fabric blinds, etc.
- Installation of bamboo chick blinds.
Allow natural light to come in:
To cut down the maintenance cost in the long-run, the most convenient way is to plan the front elevation design in such a manner that it allows the entry of natural light. It cuts down the energy cost by at least 30%; thus, contributing to a greener environment.
Bring variety to your elevation design:
Do not forget to add variety to the architectural elevation in an attempt to unify it. Follow the mantra of ‘variety within unity’. Monotonous is boring. Hence, follow the basics and make your building elevation plan stand out.
- Maintain unity in geometry by using the same shapes throughout the elevation design, but use different color and size.
- Unify the color, but change the shapes of the elements.
- Use the same elements of the same shape and size at the base and keeping modifying it per unit by stretching, tilting, folding, or twisting it.
Create a focal point in your elevation design:
The front elevation design of the building should be such that the emphasis is given to the entrance and other major parts of the building. Therefore, the gate design should be such that it complements the front elevation.
- Emphasis by contrast: Create a contrast by using specific color, texture, and shape.
- Emphasis by isolation: Isolate one element from its successive pattern and make it the focal point.
- Emphasis by placement: Placing the gate at the centre of the elevation would naturally draw the focus on it.
- Emphasis by distinction and massiveness: A massive element attracts the eye and becomes the focal point. Similarly, a distinctive element also draws attention and focus.
Follow the ancient Greek rule of proportions:
They are definitely the deal-makers or breakers. The most popularly used proportions in architectural elevation design are:
- Golden Ratio:
The Golden Ratio describes the naturally present perfectly symmetrical relationship between two proportions. Since the ancient times, architects have been using the Golden Ratio to find the exact proportion of height and width of a building. Even today, this concept is widely used and accepted.The value of the Golden Ratio is 1.618. The use of this Ratio brings about an artistic balance in the building elevation.
- The Modulor given by Le Corbusier:
Le Corbusier is one of the greater architects of all times. He gave the concept of Modulor measurement in his book ‘The Modular’. This sequence helps achieve harmony in architectural compositions. Le Corbusier was convinced, and rightly so, that this concept would allow the designing and construction of aesthetic and spacious buildings.
Have a balance in your building elevation design:
Another essential factor that must be present in a well-designed building elevation is balance. The basic way to achieve it is by symmetry. It has been followed since the ancient times. However, it is not in trend anymore. An indirect approach to get the balance is devised by contemporary architects.
- One can achieve asymmetrical balance by playing with the color saturation and size of the elements. For instance, a large element with heavy color saturation can be balanced with a smaller object with light color saturation.
- A large and simple shape can be balanced with a small and complicated shape.
- A ‘crystallographic balance’ can also be achieved by giving all the units the same weight and not necessarily making them identical.
Develop a rhythm for an appealing architectural elevation:
Rhythm can be achieved by patterns and repetition. There are several ways to induce rhythm in front elevation design.
- Repeat the same pattern a number of times in a rhythmic style to give the front elevation a holistic look.
- You can also follow alternate repetitions in the elevation design and give it a modern tone.
Use contrasts to make the front elevation interesting:
To relieve boredom in the elevation design, use of contrasts should be made. However, it must be ascertained that the contrast does not mess with the overall balance of the design.
The safest ways to use contrast are:
- Solid and Void
- Opaque and Transparent
- Smooth texture and Rough Texture
- Light and dark
Changing Trends in Modern Elevation Designing
A good elevation design is not just aesthetic but is also protective and sustainable. It must act as a shield from harsh weather conditions and also provide a breathable environment inside the building. Therefore, the building materials should be energy-efficient, innovative, adaptable, and robust to meet all the requirements.
More than 40% of the world’s energy is consumed by buildings. Hence, today, the conception of sustainable building is more imperative than ever. Green building materials must be incorporated into building projects to reduce the environmental hazards that are associated with the transport, extraction, processing, installation, fabrication, reuse, recycling, and disposal of building materials.
With the emergence of new technologies and materials, and also the evolving and considerate perspective of people, the elevation designing market has grown exponentially. A new range of materials has emerged. Materials like High-pressure Laminated (HPL), Carbon Fiber, UHPC (Ultra High Performing Concrete), ETFE Membranes, Solid Surfaces, and Corten Steel are available. Thanks to the rapid technological advances over the years!
Some of the new age elevation design and building products are:
Aerocon Sandwich panels from HIL Ltd are pre-cured, light-weight, high-performance, ready-to-install, drywall solutions. They offer outstanding resistance to moisture, fire, termites, and corrosion. They are great thermal insulators. Thus, they save up to 15% of the energy cost. These panels are strong enough to hold a heavy load.
Aerocon AAC blocks are a superior alternative to concrete block bricks and clay bricks. They have excellent acoustic and thermal insulating properties and also save about 35% of the total construction time. They have great strength and are easy to cut and chisel.
FunderMax has brought a revolution in the exterior and interior architectural materials industry. It deals in wood processing and provides High-Pressure Laminates (HPL). FunderMax uses the latest technologies in elevation designs.
Adhering to their norms of sustainable construction, more than 60% of their panels are made from natural fibre. They are also free of organic halogen compounds that are usually found in PVC sheets and greenhouse gases. They do not have asbestos, sulphur, cadmium, mercury, and other wood protection agents.
Currently, the Indian building elevation designs are dominated by ACP or Glass. ACP is very expensive and increases the overall cost of front elevation architecture. Also, the color fades after a period of time. Glass does not prove to be of any help with it comes to energy-efficiency.
Zykron-Siding, on the other hand, is a fibre cement product. It is manufactured in an eco-friendly manner. It has good thermal resistance and has acoustic properties. It keeps the building cool. It is fire-resistant, insect and termite resistant, immune to water damage, adds to the aesthetic of the building, and has low shrinkage and warping.
WPC Panels or Wood Polymer Composites by Alstone give your front elevation a natural, effortless look. These panels can give the elevation an undifferentiating look that is both contemporary and futuristic.
These panels support sustainable development. They do not contain any toxins. The WPC Panels lie in the EO class which is rated environmental-friendly and can be recycled.
Vinyl Sidings are mainly blended PVC extrusion sheets modified during their manufacturing with pigments, acrylic agents, and stabilizers. The finished product has better color stability, durability, and UV resistance than the mainstream PVC sheets.
These Sidings have almost zero-maintenance properties and a simplistic style. Vinyl Sidings have great sustainability. They can be applied on any plain wall of at least 16mm thickness easily. They are resistant to environmental degradation are energy-efficient, and durable.
A conventional yet sustainable way of designing a captivating front elevation is the use of timber wood. It is gaining recognition globally because of its plethora of benefits. The Canadian western red cedar traded by Canadian Wood is one of the most favored species of timber wood. It is termite, insect, and rot resistant. It has a great aesthetic appeal. It is economical and does not decay. Additionally, it is also energy-efficient, credits to its insulating properties.
The most economical elevation design materials are stone cladding. They can be applied to both steel and concrete buildings. Stones are naturally found substances. Therefore, they do not lead to any environmental degradation. Stone cladding is a thin, refined layer of stones. Hence, it is not as heavy as the latter; thus, reducing the overall weight of the building.
Sustainable building elevation materials and green technology are becoming a cool trend and a niche. End users are inclined towards them due to several reasons such as making a social statement and protecting the environment. Moreover, architects, building consultants, and contractors agree that a shift towards green and sustainable development is inevitable and evident.
For the best elevation design, parameters like fade resistance, adaptability to geographical conditions, longevity, and sustainability have become the major deciding factors and rightly so.
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