In recent times, perforated façade panels are making a comeback in Indian home design. However, an often-forgotten fact is that they have been an integral part of architecture for centuries. The earliest example can be seen in the palaces in Rajasthan or the Mughal forts in and around Delhi, where jalis or perforated screen facades were used to cool down the interior rooms and hallways of the building. In some cases, they were also used as a privacy screen; the classic example is the façade of the hawa mahal in Jaipur. The perforated façade design of the ‘palace of winds’ allowed the royal women to view life on the streets without being seen. These perforated panels are also present in the traditional architecture of several other countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia. While the latticework on the screens would have been hand cut in earlier times, nowadays they are laser cut with precision, thereby offering more flexibility in designing and customisation.
Perforated façade panels come in several materials, including metals such as stainless steel, aluminium, copper and titanium. However, the disadvantage of metal is that it is expensive, not easy to maintain and offers a limited choice of colours. High-pressure laminates (HPL) and wood are a better option as they are eco-friendly, weather-resistant, durable and easy to customise to almost any perforated metal design since the panels can be laser cut with ease. Wood and HPL panels also have the advantage of colour as one can coat them in almost any shade to match the home’s exterior façade. Concrete panels are another option for perforated façade cladding.
In contemporary architecture, façade cladding systems are used not only for privacy but also for improving the aesthetics of the building. Depending on the design of the panels, they can suit either the traditional or modern design style. However, the scope of perforated façade architecture extends beyond privacy or aesthetics. To provide more information on this architectural element and to understand how it can contribute to the aesthetics and functionality of houses, today, we explore the various advantages of using perforated or mesh façade panels for homes in India.
By coating the building with an extra layer, perforated façade panels create a ventilated chamber between the exterior wall and act as an insulation barrier to keep the building cool. While they are commonly used in western countries for insulating homes from heat loss during the harsh winters, they can work just as well in modern Indian homes as they protect the exterior walls from overheating due to their exposure to the sun throughout the day.
Traditionally, jalis or perforated screen facades were used to protect traditional materials such as brick and stone from imbibing heat and making the interiors unbearably warm. The principle behind the system is that when air forces its way through the perforated façade material, it increases the strength of the air flow and cools it down marginally. Additionally, since the panels cover the buildings on all sides, it sheaths it from direct sunlight, thereby reducing the walls from heat gain. In modern homes, it means a significant saving in energy costs as the air conditioning works more efficiently.
In most urban homes, outside noises from the street, including traffic sounds, can disrupt the tranquillity indoors. Besides protecting the building from heat gain, perforated façade panels also help to block sound to a small extent as it adds an extra layer through which sound passes. The panels can also work well in large apartment complexes, where installing the panels on balconies and terraces can reduce the outside noises, which disturb the serenity inside the home.
With the trend towards building sustainable homes with a minimum impact on the environment, perforated façade cladding systems are gaining popularity as they help to insulate the home against heat, thereby significantly reducing energy consumption, especially during the sweltering Indian summers. Besides, by using façade materials that are recyclable, reusable, non-toxic and chemically inert, one can be assured of sustainable construction that doesn’t harm the environment.
Many modern homes use glass facades, which make the exteriors overly bright during the day. By installing perforated aluminium cladding or concrete panels in specific areas, the amount of natural light entering the home can be controlled to achieve the right balance of energy in the interiors. Depending on the location of the house, these panels can even replace traditional curtains or blinds to protect rooms from direct sunlight.
In cities, where often buildings are so close to each other that they take away the privacy of a home, perforated panels help to create a privacy screen that blocks one’s house or apartment from direct views from neighbouring homes. Mesh façade panels also work well on terraces and balconies where they not only provide privacy but also serve as a frame into which plants can be installed to improve the aesthetics of the outdoor space. Additionally, the plants help to reduce heat gain to keep the house cool during the summers.
While perforated façade panels can add beauty and functionality to a house, it’s essential that one chooses the right type of material and design to ensure that it adds to the curb appeal and lasts for years. We recommend consulting an architect who can advise you on the merits and demerits of the various types of materials besides providing you with several design options from which you can choose one that is best suited for the style of your home.