Architecture Identity versus Façade, by zingyhomes

Visual appearance has always played a crucial role in the field of architecture and design, both in designing buildings and urban spaces. An important criterion that builds an identity of an urban or rural settlement is architecture. Architecture best reflects an urban agglomeration as it emerges from the social integration of the society.

Architectural identity, also known as building identity is the initial experience people tend to have, before entering inside. A positive interpretation can leave a huge impact on one’s mind, providing confidence and comfort.

While facades are the physical pieces of evidence for the aesthetic evolution of the city as well as the effective aspects of architectural transformation. It is based on two features – functional or constructive side and the aesthetic side. Also defined as the exterior face of a built space, facades provide a comfortable enclosure and acts as the public identity.

Generally, the form of a building is influenced by the climatic conditions, site typology, material palette and construction techniques. Thus, the development of a building is a composition of the socio-cultural and economic structure of a society.


Goa has an architecture identity with a culture of its own, which reflects in the facades of the built fabric as well.
Both architectural identity and façade are two such features which are entwined intangibly. The power of expression that resonates with the visual vocabulary of façade, is characterized as the identity of a building. It portrays physical and cultural values, to keep the culture alive and at the same time integrates the society. While the architectural identity is not just dependant on the outer facet of the building including the material palette and form but is also based on the connectivity with the people. A building façade is the symbolic representation of meticulous framework based on parameters of geography, culture, and traditions, sometimes the identity of a particular group or an individual architect. However, both aspects are important to the architects and designers, but at times, building identity and façade might work in opposition to one another.

When approaching buildings façades as an integral and inseparable component of city image, it is to be comprehended as the connection between the inner and the outer space of a building. Urban space is characterized by building façades, neighboring buildings` façades, streetscape, and environment, even the scale around a building is specified through its façades. Building façades trigger various experiences to the viewers and are in most cases considered for the evaluation of historical districts image.

In today’s times, it is not necessary that you will find a façade resonating with the context, or in other words relating to its architectural identity. Careful attention is required to avoid the buildings from losing connections with their local identity and context. Connecting with local identity doesn’t mean the approach should be traditional manner, but rather that their design should be a result of different factors, interacting and overlapping, and in respect to the physical and non-physical context.

Façades should be designed in respect to efficiency, aesthetics, and relatability with the context. The architectural character of a particular place is influenced by several factors essentially being environmental, cultural, social, aesthetic, political and economic. Nature of the surrounding built fabric makes up for the contextual parameter, as the buildings should ideally be responsive to existing context. Moreover, the existing built fabric hints at patterns and characteristic’s for designing facades. Existing buildings of a city can be used as reference material for the design of more contemporary buildings, so the built environment becomes more and a mosaic of coherent units.

Factors such as globalization have affected the architectural identity and façade designs to a large extent. They have resulted in the construction of numerous buildings with mere connections to their local identity.

To balance the negative effects architects and designers are required to articulate the essence of modernism within the local context. Ideally, there needs to be a balance between the designs of the façade keeping architectural identity in mind. Despite the multifarious factors affecting the identity and facade, a harmonized approach is required to shape a sound character of the city. The design methodology ought to be a dialectic mixture of responsiveness to the local context, culture, and traditions, latest technology, regulations and codes, social aspects, aesthetics and community concerns, hence giving the buildings a deeper meaning.

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