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Unit of study_

DESC9675: High Performance Facades

This unit explores advanced building facades and their role in reducing environmental impacts while simultaneously enhancing indoor environment quality for building occupants. Advanced facades are those that are designed, analysed, procured and operated as a system. Optimisation of the often conflicting performance criteria of cooling load, lighting and daylighting, sound isolation, occupant comfort, costs and aesthetics requires an integrated approach from the whole team including architects, project managers, suppliers and engineers, from the earliest stages of the advanced facade design process. Specific topics to be covered in this unit include the integrated design approach to facades, the fundamental building physics determining facade performance, structural facade typologies, solar control facades, daylighting facades, double-skin facades, ventilated facades and dynamic facade systems. Various analytical procedures and simulation tools for the evaluation of high performance facade designs will also be examined. Costs and benefits of various design approaches will also be assessed from both owner and occupant perspectives.


Academic unit Architectural and Design Science
Unit code DESC9675
Unit name High Performance Facades
Session, year
Semester 1, 2021
Attendance mode Block mode
Location Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney
Credit points 6

Enrolment rules

Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff and contact details

Coordinator Richard de Dear,
Lecturer(s) Haico Schepers ,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment group assignment Façade design
Case study, report and oral presentation
40% Week 06 A3 x 8 pages, 1500 words, 10 minutes
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO5
Assignment Schematic design
Design and report
60% Week 13 A3 x 10 pages, 800 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5
group assignment = group assignment ?
  • Façade design: This assignment will review build-up of facades and the materials used. Teams will build a typical façade module using common materials. In doing so students will assess and evaluate the characteristics and uses of a broad range of materials. Students will work in small groups and will be given example materials to work with. Each group will present their research and critique on the façade build-up, material performance, and estimate the overall performance of the facade system. Groups will look for precedents and examples, and nominate key materials’ performance for the final design.
  • Schematic design: This assignment will review the facade of a selected building in Sydney and consider system typologies that have or could have been used. In doing so students will assess and evaluate the characteristics of a typical façade. They will present research on the façade build-up, material performance, and estimate the overall performance of the facade. The individual will then propose an alternative design for the façade for a different climatic region. They will build up the new façade with ideas and materials investigated in assignment one.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Work of outstanding quality, demonstrating mastery of the learning outcomes assessed.
The work shows significant innovation, experimentation, critical analysis, synthesis, insight,
creativity, and/or exceptional skill.


75 - 84

Work of excellent quality, demonstrating a sound grasp of the learning outcomes
assessed. The work shows innovation, experimentation, critical analysis, synthesis,
insight, creativity, and/or superior skill.


65 - 74

Work of good quality, demonstrating more than satisfactory achievement of the learning
outcomes assessed, or work of excellent quality for a majority of the learning outcomes


50 - 64

Work demonstrating satisfactory achievement of the learning outcomes assessed.


0 - 49

Work that does not demonstrate satisfactory achievement of one or more of the learning
outcomes assessed.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Special consideration

If you experience short-term circumstances beyond your control, such as illness, injury or misadventure or if you have essential commitments which impact your preparation or performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 02 1. Façade system types; 2. Key general design issues; 3. Group formation; 4. Building selection Lecture and tutorial (8 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 04 1. Envelope physics, basics of heat transfer, condensation and ventilation; 2. Material issues; 3. Tutorial on material buildup glass section and U value and section J calculations Lecture and tutorial (8 hr) LO1 LO3 LO4
Week 06 1. Condensation, ventilation and daylight; 2. Presentation of group work; 3. Tutorial on daylight and performance documentation Lecture and tutorial (8 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO5
Week 08 1. Waterproofing detailing and construction; 2. Other issues: structural, fire, acoustic, wind loads, health and safety; 3. Waterproofing joint design tutorial Lecture and tutorial (8 hr) LO1 LO4
Week 10 1. Specification development, manufacturing and contracts; 2. Example specification clause writing tutorial Lecture and tutorial (8 hr) LO1 LO2 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

Please refer to the Resolutions of the University School:

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

reading materials relevant to the lectures will be posted to Canvas

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University’s graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. use and understand the language and terminology associated with building façades
  • LO2. identify typical façade system typologies and be able to critique them in terms of key performance characteristics and implications on procurement and construction
  • LO3. understand key attributes of envelope physics and be able to calculate simple energy transfer and BCA section J requirements
  • LO4. design systems and joints incorporating principles of movement, waterproofing, structure and thermal transfer
  • LO5. communicate clearly the critical aspects of façade system design and execution in a form suitable to form a contract.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
No changes have been made since this unit was last offered

Additional costs

Students are expected to cover costs associated with travelling to site visits and modelling assignments.


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