Facadism, façadism (or façadomy) refers to an architectural and construction practice where the facade of a building was designed or constructed separately from the rest of a building. More often it refers to the practice where only the facade of a building is preserved with new buildings erected behind or around it.
There are aesthetic and historical reasons for preserving building facades. Facadism can be the response to the interiors of a building becoming unusable, such as being damaged by fire. In developing areas, however, the practice is sometimes used by property developers seeking to redevelop a site as a compromise to preservationists who wish to preserve buildings of historical or aesthetic interest. It can be regarded as a compromise between historic preservation and demolition and thus has been lauded as well as decried.
There is sometimes a blurred line between renovation, adaptive reuse, reconstruction and facadism. Sometimes buildings renovated to such an extent that they are "skinned", preserving the exterior shell and additionally used for purposes other than what they were originally intended. While this is equivalent to facadism, the difference is typically retention of roof and or floor structures, maintaining a credible link to the original building. In contrast, facadism typically involves retaining only one or two street facing walls for purely aesthetic and decorative purposes. Facadomy is a practice in postmodern architecture reaching its peak in the latter half of the 20th century. The setback or podium architecture technique gives an illusion of integrity to the original building by visually separating the old from the new, helping to mitigate farcical effects such as the floors and windows not lining up or a dramatic clash of styles.
Critics label the practice as architectural sham, claiming that it sometimes results in part of the building becoming a folly.