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, Strasbourg, France]] A facade or façade (pronounced /fəˈsɑːd/) is generally one side of the exterior of a building, especially the front, but also sometimes the sides and rear. The word comes from the French language, literally meaning "frontage" or "face".

In architecture, the facade of a building is often the most important from a design standpoint, as it sets the tone for the rest of the building. Many facades are historic, and local zoning regulations or other laws greatly restrict or even forbid their alteration.



The word comes from the French word façade which comes from Italian word facciata, from Italian word faccia meaning face, from Vulgar Latin *facia. The earlist use of the word is in 1681

Georgian facades added to earlier buildings

It was quite common in the Georgian period for existing houses in English towns to be given a new fashionable facade. For example in the City of Bath The Bunch of Grape in Westgate Street appears to be a Georgian building but the appearance is only skin deep and some of the interior rooms sill have Jacobean plasterwork ceilings.[1]

Highrise facades

set-up at National Research Council (Canada) Mississippi Mills, Ontario Research Facility and National Fire Laboratory. Tests here evaluate facade fire behavior in case fire breaks out of a window, which is simulated with a fire chamber and a large opening on one side.]]
facade with incomplete firestop made of stuffed rockwool.]]

In modern highrise buildings, the exterior walls are often suspended from the concrete floor slabs. Examples include curtain walls and precast concrete walls. The facade can at times be required to have a fire-resistance rating, for instance, if two buildings are very close together, to lower the likelihood of fire spreading from one building to another. In general, the facade systems that are suspended or attached to the precast concrete slabs will be made from aluminium (powdercoated or anodized) or stainless steel. In recent years more lavish materials like titanium have been used, but due to their cost and susceptibility for Panel Edge Staining to occur have not been very popular.

Whether rated or not, fire protection is always a design consideration in terms of concern for the subject building and fire risk. The melting point of aluminium, 1,100 °C, is typically reached within minutes of the start of a fire. Firestops for such building joints can be qualified to. Putting fire sprinkler systems on each floor has a profoundly positive effect on the fire safety of buildings with curtain walls. In the case of the aforementioned fire, it was specifically the activation of the newly installed sprinkler system, which halted the advance of the fire and allowed effective suppression.

Some building codes also limit the percentage of window area in exterior walls. When the exterior wall is not rated, the perimeter slab edge becomes a junction where rated slabs are abutting an unrated wall. For rated walls, one may also choose rated windows and fire doors, to maintain that wall's rating.

Film sets and theme parks

On a film set and within most themed attractions, many of the buildings are only facades, which are far cheaper than actual buildings, and not subject to building codes (within film sets). In film sets, they are simply held up with supports from behind, and sometimes have boxes for actors to step in and out of from the front if necessary for a scene. Within theme parks, they are usually decoration for the interior ride/attraction/restaurant, which is based on a simple building design.


See also

Wood Facade



Further reading

  •  Poole, Thomas (1909). "Façade". Catholic Encyclopedia. 5. New York: Robert Appleton Company.  The article outlines the development of the façade in ecclesiatical architecture from the early Christian period to the Renaissance.


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

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See also facade



Alternative spellings


French façade, from Italian facciata, a derivation of faccia (front), from Latin facies (face); compare face





façade (plural façades)

  1. (architecture) The face of a building, especially the front view or elevation.
    • 1865, James Fergusson, A History of Architecture in All Countries:
      In Egypt the façades of their rock-cut tombs were ... ornamented so simply and unobtrusively as rather to belie than to announce their internal magnificence.
    • 1880, Charles Eliot Norton, Historical Studies of Church-Building in the Middle Ages:
      Like so many of the finest churches, [the cathedral of Siena] was furnished with a plain substantial front wall, intended to serve as the backing and support of an ornamental façade.
  2. (figuratively) A deceptive outward appearance.
  3. (Can we verify(+) this sense?) (Organ building) the prospect


  • 1812: Antonio de Alcedo and George Alexander Thompson [tr.], The geographical and historical dictionary of America and the West Indies: containing an entire translation of the Spanish work of Colonel Don Antonio de Alcedo … with large additions and compilations from modern voyages and travels, and from original and authentic information, volume 2, page 13, “Demerara” (J. Carpenter)
    The plantations are regularly laid out in lots along the sea-shore, called façades, about a quarter of a mile wide, and extending ¼ths of a mile back into the country.

Usage notes

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  • The forms facade and façade are alternative spellings of the same word. The spelling with the cedilla is preferred by some writers, to reflect the word’s French origin, to emphasize the sibilant in the pronunciation, or just because it’s the spelling they believe is correct or it’s the preferred spelling in their dictionary. Some readers, however, will find any word spelled with accents or diacritics to be distracting or affected.

Derived terms


Dictionary notes


The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.


  • Notes:
  1. ^ The Concise Oxford English Dictionary [Eleventh Edition]



From French façade, itself from Italian facciata, a derivation of faccia (front), from Latin facies (face); compare face



façade f.

  1. façade (of a building)
  2. façade (deceptive outward appearance)
  3. (metonymy) face
    Als ik jullie façades hier nog eens zie, verdomde voyeurs, riskeer je zomaar geen trap voor de broek maar een vertimmerde façade
    If I see your faces here again, damned peeping toms, you don't just risk a kick in the pants but a remodeled front

Derived terms




façade f. (plural façades)

  1. façade (of a building)
  2. façade (deceptive outward appearance)

Simple English

A facade or façade (IPA: /fəˈsɑːd/) is usually one side of the outside of a building. It is very often the front, but also sometimes the sides and rear. The word comes from the French language, literally meaning "frontage" or "face".


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