Innovative and safe design solutions for aluminium facade systems


Façade systems form the building envelope in both low- and high-rise buildings to protect them against environmental hazards. They are of great importance to both builders and occupants for reasons relating to aesthetics, energy efficiency and structural safety. Their cost is significant and is about 20% of the total building cost. Structural failure of façades in a high-rise building during a high wind event can be quite disastrous and can lead to deaths of occupants and pedestrians, and very expensive rebuilding programs.

Research activities

The commonly used facade systems are made of aluminium frame infilled glass panes. The mullions are the vertical (wind resisting) structural members of aluminium framing. They are a pair of aluminium extrusions, which fit together and allow for expansion and shortening of the panel due to temperature variation and wind deflection. Clear design provisions are not available to predict the structural behaviour of such mullion couple under wind actions in any of the currently available design standards. To address this shortcoming, this project investigates the structural behaviour of aluminium façade systems made of complex shaped mullion couples subject to wind actions using full-scale experimental and numerical studies. Both open and hollow mullion sections used in captive and structural glazing systems will be evaluated under positive and negative wind actions.

Expected findings

  • Knowledge and understanding of the structural performance of mullion couples subject to wind actions.
  • Development of validated finite element models to predict the mullion couple behaviour under wind actions
  • Development of a structural performance database of a variety of mullion sections with varying member slenderness
  • Accurate and safe design tools/methods for predicting the structural capacity of mullions

Funding / Grants

  • Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Project

Other Team Members

Thananjayan Sivaprakasam PhD researcher