Ever since its emergence within architectural and town planning vocabulary during the 1970s, the word facadism has stimulated controversial comment in a complex debate about its validity and morality as an approach to development. This debate highlights an enormous gulf between differing opinions about the nature of buildings and the architectural significance attached to ‘the facade’ as an element of building design. From some perspectives, facadism presents an unwelcome challenge to the conceptual foundations on which the principles of good architecture are based. Architectural purists from a number of different ‘schools of thought’ would regard facadism as dishonest and distasteful, claiming that it leads to ‘sham’ buildings. From another perspective, however, it may be argued that facadism is justified by historical precedent. Also, facadism may be seen as part of a continuing trend, certainly evident in Britain since the mid-1970s, towards a re-examination of history in architecture and the popularity of ‘contextualism’, and as a particular current fashion in building design. An important point not to overlook is that a number of the arguments raised involve not only matters of architectural style and design, but embrace a range of conceptual issues based on physical, social, political, economic, philosophical, religious and historical considerations.