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In architecture, the façade of a building is often the most important aspect from a design standpoint, as it sets the tone for the rest of the building. From the engineering perspective of a building, the façade is also of great importance due to its impact on energy efficiency. For historical façades, many local zoning regulations or other laws greatly restrict or even forbid their alteration.
The word comes from the French foreign loan word façade, which in turn comes from the Italian facciata, from faccia meaning face, ultimately from post-classical Latin facia. The earliest usage recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary is 1656.
It was quite common in the Georgian period for existing houses in English towns to be given a fashionable new façade. For example, in the city of Bath, The Bunch of Grapes in Westgate Street appears to be a Georgian building, but the appearance is only skin deep and some of the interior rooms still have Jacobean plasterwork ceilings.
In modern highrise building, the exterior walls are often suspended from the concrete floor slabs. Examples include curtain walls and precast concrete walls. The façade can at times be required to have a fire-resistance rating, for instance, if two buildings are very close together, to lower the likelihood of fire spreading from one building to another.
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