Building façade Print


Desi​gn Checklist​

  1. Buildings demonstrate a high architectural quality including visual richness and coherence 
  2. The apartment building makes a positive contribution to the existing or desired future street character, and to the public realm

​An apartment building’s façade is closely linked to its overall image and environmental performance.


The façade design will arise, in part, from the building massing. To achieve visual richness and help viewers ‘read’ the building and the activity within, the design should reflect the different parts of the building, which may also express different internal uses.

The apartment building will usually comprise a principal façade that addresses the adjacent street. That façade should be visible and attractive and should enhance the existing character of the local area or street context. However when a building is exposed to public view on all sides, or is conspicuously taller than its neighbours, all visible parts of its facades should be carefully designed.

Better Design Practice

Buildings demonstrate a high architectural quality

Break up the building length of linear apartment blocks by emphasising vertical elements or proportions, stepping (setting forward or back) parts of the building or varying the materials in a vertical manner.

Consider articulating a base, middle and top where the overall building form is predominantly vertical.

Horizontal elements can be emphasised through different horizontal bands of colour or materials. Techniques such as positive or negative details can be used to express different uses and storey heights. This can contribute visual interest up the height of the façade and to the roofscape, and give an expression of human scale from the ground.

Balconies are one of the most interesting elements of an apartment façade and have the potential to enhance its overall design.

They must be designed to ensure the user will have a good level of privacy and to provide adequate usable space. Cheap balustrade treatments should be avoided. (see Outdoor spaces, Private outdoor space).

Positive contribution to the street and public realm

The façade design should respond to any positive characteristics in the local area and street, and these should directly inform the design response. Consider:

  • ​Massing, including 3D modelling of the façade.

  • The roof shape and overhang. • Verandas, balconies and porches.

  • Fenestration and details.

  • Subdividing the façade to reflect existing local patterns, rhythms or dimensions.

Design the façade to optimise its orientation to the street and to key views (e.g. façade elements may be angled towards a water body).

Frontages should include windows to main habitable rooms.

The ground level of the façade, particularly if there is no setback from the street, should be designed and detailed to be seen from a pedestrian’s level.
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