Rainscreen cladding has been around in various iterations for centuries. The version we use today was actually developed in Scandinavia during the 1940s. The name comes from its function—rainscreen cladding prevents significant amounts of water from penetrating into the wall construction. Rainscreen cladding is part of a double-wall construction that can be used to form the exterior walls of buildings. Open joints between the panels allow a circulating air layer to be formed between the hung panels and the thermal insulation, which is mounted directly on to a building structure.
In a glass rainscreen cladding system, the outer leaf panels can be made of laminated glass or tempered glass. Both types offer safety features and superior strength, so the decision between each type of glass depends on the specific application. For example, tempered glass is typically used for large glass installations because it has the ability to bend without breaking, thus increasing its wind resistance.
The primary difference between the two types of glass cladding is that curtain walling is usually the whole building envelope, which is the physical separator between the conditioned and unconditioned environment of a building. Rainscreen cladding is just the outer protective layer of the envelope.
While there are advantages and disadvantages to either type of cladding, the ultimate decision between the two will largely depend on the specific design requirements of the building as well as climate.