Born for timber walls, ventilated facades can adapt to the most widely varying solutions
Ventilated facades guarantee a high level of building envelope energy efficiency and indoor comfort. This leading-edge architectural solution actually has a long history.
In fact, this system originated in Norway, where it was installed to protect timber buildings from damp and water. The Norwegians themselves then developed these draining and ventilating solutions to protect masonry from the weather. The underlying principles of ventilated facades are still unchanged, but technologies have evolved considerably, optimizing their thermal and acoustic efficiency and appearance potentials.
Urban City Center
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Ventilated facades still account for a smaller share of the building cladding market than continuous facades, but thanks to the spread of large ceramic slabs, the use of this technology is now growing fast. Moreover, the drive to renovate existing building stock is giving a strong boost to the adoption of increasingly advanced, efficient systems.
A technology beneficial in both summer and winter
Ventilated facades are an external cladding system that is installed dry, suitable both for new builds and for renovation and upgrading projects. A ventilated facade includes a cavity between the building’s external wall and the outer cladding, in which an insulating layer is installed. The guaranteed performances are excellent and, combined with the architectural flexibility they offer, they are amongst the main reasons why this technology is being more and more widely used in contemporary architecture.
If we consider the enormous number of existing buildings that can be classified as “energy-guzzling” and their incidence on the total energy consumption of their sector, it is easy to appreciate that the use of ventilated facade systems with jacket insulation can be of crucial assistance in the energy upgrading of building stock.
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If well designed, a ventilated building envelope can provide outstanding levels of energy efficiency (especially in summer), since it reduces thermal loads and thus cuts the energy required for cooling.
Good performances are also achievable in winter: the external cladding protects the insulating layer and the ventilation keeps it dry, fundamental for its effectiveness. However, the heat loss caused by the velocity of the air flow in the cavity must be carefully assessed in the various facade configurations.
For a clearer understanding and assessment of the performances the various types of ventilated facade are able to provide in terms of the energy efficiency, comfort and health of living spaces, knowledge of the main forms of heat exchange and temperature control is useful.
The seasonal operation of a ventilated facade is reliable and predictable:
Home in Franciacorta
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The main technical benefits of a ventilated facade
- Risparmio energetico, grazie alla ventilazione dell’intercapedine e all’isolante, che elimina i ponti termici;
- Isolamento acustico;
- Protezione delle pareti dagli agenti atmosferici e dagli sbalzi termici;
- Eliminazione dei problemi di condensa superficiale e di umidità;
- Manutenzione semplice, poiché i pannelli vengono posati in modo da garantire l’ispezionabilità e la durata nel tempo dell’isolante esterno, protetto dal rivestimento di facciata.
Oltre ai vantaggi tecnici, non va sottovalutato il valore architettonico ed estetico, determinato con grande libertà dal progettista, sia in termini cromatici, che materici.
An infinite choice of finishes
It is the versatility of its finishes which makes this dry construction technique excellent for transforming buildings’ identity, as well as restoring the efficiency of elderly buildings which would otherwise not be easy to place on the property market.
The external cladding may consist of panels of many different materials: glass, metal, wood, stone, porcelain stoneware, … Panels in aluminum, galvanized steel, stainless steel or Corten steel, generally available in a variety of colors and finishes, with luminous effects and very attractive textures.
Specifically, the building’s external covering layer must withstand mechanical stresses (such as those applied by wind and rain), corrosive phenomena in the specific case of metals, seasonal temperature variations (which may cause thermal expansion within elements), and the formation of condensate on the surfaces or in the interstices of the wall.
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Another option is wooden panels or boards, the most natural of materials, but requiring special treatment if installed outdoors to avoid problems of ageing or exposure to the weather. These claddings are often chosen when the building’s bearing structure is also in timber, to ensure continuity of insulation as well as the benefits of ventilation.
Stone is another natural material, suitable for outdoor use since it is waterproof and very strong. However, a stone ventilated facade requires the use of an external protective cladding in slabs specially shaped to enable them to be fixed using a dry system, and with the right thickness to ensure the strength of the material but avoid adding too much weight to the entire architectural structure. Moreover, natural stone ventilated facades must have precise shapes with low thicknesses. This is necessary not only to allow the stone elements used to be handled during the installation process, but also to ensure that the facade composition specified by the architectural project is complied with.
The ideal partnership with stoneware
As we have seen, a ventilated facade offers many benefits in terms of energy saving, soundproofing and the protection of the building’s structure.
Due to its technical and appearance characteristics, porcelain stoneware is a ceramic product often used as cladding material for this innovative, versatile construction system.
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Porcelain stoneware slabs are often chosen as cladding for ventilated facades exactly because they are lighter than natural stones, more resistant and easy to maintain and clean, also compared with metals or synthetic materials.
Porcelain stoneware slabs offer the capability to customize the architectural project thanks to their wide color assortment, different types of textures – wood, marble, stone, brick and concrete-look surfaces – and their large choice of sizes.
Use of porcelain stoneware on walls, performances and values
In all its sizes, porcelain stoneware offers architects exceptional freedom in the creation of shapes and volumes (balconies, terraces, overhanging roofs) and custom cuts. Porcelain stoneware ventilated facades enable a contemporary reinterpretation of the relationship between cladding and structure, together with all the benefits provided by use of such a compact ceramic material.
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Florim offers architects the market’s most extensive range of porcelain stoneware large slabs, in terms of both sizes and surfaces. In particular, Florim Magnum Oversize slabs, measuring up to 160×320 centimeters but just 6 millimeters thick, combine the light weight and outstanding technical performances of stoneware with all the uniform appearance, continuity of material and elegance provided by oversize surfaces.
From the simplest to the most sophisticated material effects, ceramics as a facade cladding material can be counted on to provide both excellent technological performances and superlative aesthetic qualities. The cases used as illustrations in this article confirm the architectural value of this material, so versatile also when used as finishing for a ventilated building envelope.