Good building design takes into consideration many factors including ventilation, thermal insulation, natural light and acoustics. Specifying products that take advantage of elements such as airflow, sunlight and temperature, and minimise the many challenges of changing building use is also part of good design. One such product, the ventilated facade, has been widely adopted by the architectural design community for its ability to meet the high specification requirements of modern building standards.

Commonly known as rain screens or double-skin facades, ventilated facades represent a high performance, low maintenance and stylish building enclosure solution proven to improve the building’s energy efficiency, sustainability, acoustics and aesthetics. Anchored independently to the building, this facade system eliminates the possibility of ‘weeping walls’, a condition prevalent in the harsh climates of Australia and New Zealand caused by cladding being directly attached to the structure and compromising the waterproofing.

Ventilated facades are installed using mechanical anchoring elements with the physical separation between the facade and the structural wall keeping the building and insulation dry and mould-free in any weather. This facade system is particularly recommended for buildings that demand controlled environments such as healthcare, aged care, education, institutional and public sector facilities.

Initially developed to protect building exteriors from prolonged exposure to wind and rain, the ventilated facade delivers insulation advantages in cold as well as hot and humid conditions, making it particularly ideal for the weather extremes experienced across Australia. The ventilated gap, typically 20-30mm between the cladding and the support structure, prevents the entry of moisture into the building, and also promotes natural ventilation.

Open-joint ventilated facades deliver better energy performance in comparison with traditional facade systems in hot summers or cold winters. These facades improve the energy efficiency of the building in three ways: the ventilated gap retains heat inside and delays its dissipation; the outer cladding reflects most of the solar radiation; and the cooler air circulating in the gap reduces the amount of heat absorbed by the building, lowering air conditioning costs.

Additionally, buildings with ventilated facades are not affected by problems such as condensation caused by thermal bridges or steam impermeability in non-ventilated facade systems. These buildings can also minimise noise intrusion into the living environment with the facade absorbing 10-20dB depending on the material used.

Building designers have a wide range of material options in ventilated facades from eco-friendly and fire-resistant aluminium composite panels, 100% timber veneer panels and terracotta tiles to non-combustible Rockwool cored sandwich panels and architectural glass. Independent anchoring of individual facade panels not only increases the stability of the structure but also expands architectural design possibilities for the designer. There are other advantages too: Ventilated facades can be installed quickly minimising time on site; the lightweight and flexible design increases accessibility during maintenance; and the durable building-independent system allows modification or replacement of the facade any time.

Australia’s leading distributor of quality facades, SGI Architectural offers a broad product range as well as expertise in the design, construction and installation of ventilated facades. SGI collaborates with designers and architects, working to given timeframes and ensuring quality outcomes through relevant testing, feasibility reporting and on-site support.

To find out more click here to download this free white paper ‘Embrace the Elements with Ventilated Facades’