A curtain wall system is an outer covering of a building in which the outer walls are non-structural, but merely keep the weather out and the occupants in. As the curtain wall is non-structural it can be made of a lightweight material reducing construction costs. When glass is used as the curtain wall, a great advantage is that natural light can penetrate deeper within the building. The curtain wall façade does not carry any dead load weight from the building other than its own dead load weight. The wall transfers horizontal wind loads that are incident upon it to the main building structure through connections at floors or columns of the building. A curtain wall is designed to resist air and water infiltration, sway induced by wind and seismic forces acting on the building, and its own dead load weight forces.
Curtain Wall Systems are typically designed with extruded aluminum members, although the first curtain walls were made of steel. The aluminium frame is typically infilled with glass, which provides an architecturally pleasing building, as well as benefits such as daylighting. However, parameters related to solar gain control such as thermal comfort and visual comfort are more difficult to control when using highly-glazed curtain walls. Other common infills include: stone veneer, metal panels, louvres, and operable windows or vents.
Copper cladding enables architects to incorporate visually desirable features into building design. On building exteriors, copper cladded sheets, shingles, and pre-fabricated panels can be cut, routed, sawed, filed, drilled, screwed, welded, and curved to form complex shapes. A variety of finishes and colors are available. For a description of copper facade cladding systems, see: Copper in architecture: wall cladding.
Curtain walls differ from store-front systems in that they are designed to span multiple floors, and take into consideration design requirements such as: thermal expansion and contraction; building sway and movement; water diversion; and thermal efficiency for cost-effective heating, cooling, and lighting in the building.
Famous quotes containing the words curtain and/or wall:
“You shall hang the curtain under the clasps, and bring the ark of the covenant in there, within the curtain; and the curtain shall separate for you the holy place from the most holy.”
—Bible: Hebrew, Exodus 26:33.
“... the Wall became a magnet for citizens of every generation, class, race, and relationship to the war perhaps because it is the only great public monument that allows the anesthetized holes in the heart to fill with a truly national grief.”
—Adrienne Rich (b. 1929)