Facade access is interpreted in different ways around the globe. In some regions, a Building Maintenance Unit (or BMU) is a requirement for any building over 15 meters of height, and failing to consider a facade access system could have legal implications for the architect. But in other parts of the world, less is done to maintain the external skin of a building.

Years ago, the Dutch government researched rope access as a method for cleaning facades. Soon after, updated standards no longer allowed for rope access cleaning and rightly so.

I’ve met quite some window cleaners in my time, but I’ve never met a rope access cleaner over 45 years old. It’s a tough job.

Maintaining your building

Because I would want my building to maintain its value and its appearance in the long run. When it comes to facade access, glass replacement is an important consideration for a good reason: glass does break sometimes.

I’d understand that architects want to avoid showing a BMU in the visuals they present to their client, if it wasn’t for the fact that this creates a long-term problem.

Please know that a BMU does not have to be visible when it’s not in use. Good designers are able to hide it. My advice to architects and developers would be to engage a consultant at an early stage. I’m sure that together, you’ll be able to find a satisfactory solution.

Parking a BMU out of sight

I’d suggest you to challenge different manufacturers to integrate a BMU in the structure of the building, or to find another way to park it out of sight when it’s not deployed. The appearance of a building should never be spoiled by the sight of facade access equipment on top of the roof.

I urge architects to invest in a facade access partner in an early phase of the design process. An expert should be able to provide a BMU that suits the needs of window cleaners as well as tenants.

I’ve seen buildings out there where every month the owners of multimillion-dollar penthouses have to open their doors for a window cleaner, who comes in to clean the windows of the downstairs neighbor with a bucket of water. It’s a strange world indeed!

Fortunately, I’m seeing a clear trend towards well-designed BMUs. But I’m also seeing that there’s still a lack of knowledge. I therefore feel that educating architects and developers about the possibilities is part of our job at XSPlatforms.

We’d love to show what we can do to contribute to the durability of a building in the long term, without having a negative visual impact.