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Facade retention is a method of building rehabilitation to bring changes to interior of the building structure. Advantages of facade retention in building construction is discussed.

Historic Buildings Redevelopment using Facade Retention

Lack of open sites to bring new buildings in the town and the cities as a part of development are often aggravated. It is hence found necessary for the developers to focus on the existing buildings to find a source for accommodation.

The changing demands of the society and the commerce have made many of the old buildings redundant for reconstruction. Such building even though continues to provide service have become obsolete.

If the old buildings have a strong architecture and structure; a redevelopment is made possible.

The redevelopment can be carried out in varying degrees. They can be a least drastic option called the ‘low key’ rehabilitation which include retention of all the building finishes as well as the services.

Small changes are only made to the building in this method. Or the redevelopment can be carried based on the most drastic option; i.e. the total demolition, which will be followed by the construction of the entirely new building.

Facade Retention in Building Construction and its Advantages

What is Facade Retention?

Facade retention as the name says, it retains the facade of precious buildings and brings changes to the interior of the structures. For those buildings, whose status lies in the exterior view only, the method of facade retention as a method of redevelopment can be applied.

The process involves the complete demolition of the building’s interior and erecting a new structure behind the retained facade.

Facade retention construction

Fig.1: Facade retention construction carried out; The interior of the structure is completely reconstructed through steel construction

Facade Retention and Low Key Rehabilitation

Facade retention forms a drastic form of building rehabilitation. This method does not follow certain advantages that are gained by the low key rehabilitation. They are:

  • The low key rehabilitation when compared to complete demolition, is less expensive. The facade retention method possesses certain structural complexities that make them expensive compared to low key rehabilitation.
  • The time taken by Low key rehabilitation is less compared to building demolition and new construction. This also gain many economic advantages that are not possessed by the facade retention method.

Advantages of Facade Retention in Building Construction

The construction of new buildings behind the facades of the historic or precious buildings is found to be economical and functional. This method is, in turn, reuse and conserve the older buildings. The advantages of facade retention are:

1. Higher Demand for Precious Buildings

Insurance companies, society buildings, banks and other financial institutions demand to have their buildings to be attractive especially, prestigious historic buildings. They are ready to spend money to purchase such buildings or to get it in the lease.

The building value hence will increase, when the modern type of accommodation is provided behind the historic facade. The retained facade will satisfy the need of user “exterior view” and the interior rehabilitation provides the efficient working environment.

2. Facade Retention Gains Financial Aid

As stated before, the facade retention compared to low key rehabilitation method is expensive. But there are chances for facade retention to obtain certain cost through financial aid.

This financial aid won’t be available for all kind of facade retention projects. Certain projects where retention of historic buildings is a concern, or on projects where more job opportunities are a factor; there will be a provision for financial aid.

3. Facade Retention does not require any Planning Permission

For development, the planning permission is required, as per Town and Country Planning Act 1990. The statement that “work for the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of any building, being works which affect only the interior of the building that does not materially affect the external appearance of the building”, will not be taken as a development and hence does not require any kind of planning permission.

Thus, if there is no kind of change in the exterior structure of the building, the developer need not require any kind of permission.

3. Facade Retention Increases the Floor Area with the Insertion of Additional Floors

The facade retention scheme will help in the insertion of additional floors, bringing more space and accommodation. When the provision of additional floors is given, the edges or associated suspended ceilings can conflict with the existing window openings. So, such design aspects should be taken care.

4. Plot Ratio Control

The ministry of town and country planning in 1948, introduced the concept of Plot ratio control. This concept is to keep a control over the floor areas that are constructed, which must be limited to three times the area of the site. The plot ratio that is maintained is 3:1.

The main purpose behind brings plot ratio control is to limit the building heights that are constructed in towns and cities so that the surrounding amenity and their development is not impaired. The method of plot ratio control helps in the reuse of existing buildings as it will control the size of new buildings. Reuse is promoted rather than demolishing and replacing.

5. Suitable Buildings are Available

Many buildings are made obsolete due to the increasing demand for the sophisticated interior environment. The facade retention is the best solution for all those buildings that are outdated.

One of the examples is large textile mills in the north of England, old factories and warehouses, older office buildings and churches. These mentioned buildings are attractive in their architecture and structurally strong, that it will turn out best by using facade retention.

6. The Architectural Value of Facade

Areas where the building’s facade brings an architectural style or the period, the facade retention method is best suited. The value of architecture is maintained with the help of facade retention.

7. Structural Weakness of the interior is improved

In facade retention, there is a complete transformation of interior facilities. Sometimes the interior facilities provided extra cannot be taken by the existing interior construction.

For example, an existing building might have a floor that is constructed by timber. The new utility will be a conversion to an office interior. Sometimes the incorporation of new office equipment cannot be supported by the timber floor.

In these situations, the existing floor must be either supported by steel or concrete. There is a situation where complete replacement of the interior would be necessary i.e. the facade retention.

9. Problems Related to the Unsatisfactory Internal Layout is Solved

10. Facade Retention may Enable Compliance with the Fire Regulations

For those buildings, whose exterior have goods value but the interior is not safe for fire regulations, the facade retention is necessary. The provision for emergency exits and other safety considerations may not be available in old buildings. So, complete alteration in the interior must be enabled, without affecting the interior.

11. Client Requirements are Achieved

The need for an exterior of high architectural and craftsmanship that is achieved only in historic buildings, along with an interior with fully modern, air conditioned and spacious accommodation; is achieved through the facade retention method.

Read More: Types of Building Repair and Maintenance Services

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