Architectural Colour in the Professional Palette

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Routledge, Aug 15, 2013 - Architecture - 248 pages
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How do architects use color? Do they adopt a different strategy or starting point for every project? Do they gradually cultivate individual color palettes, which develop alongside their body of built work? Do they utilize, or are they aware of, the body of theoretical work that underpins the use of color in the past, and forms the basis of most of the color systems commercially available today?

Informed by the author’s thirty years in architectural practice and academia, this book investigates, documents and analyzes the work of a number of contemporary architects in order to respond to these questions and provide a clear reference of contemporary color use. The book suggests a holistic approach to the integration of color in architecture; through a series of thematic essays, the text explores and reveals underlying principles in color design and application. Case studies include:

  • AHMM
  • Caruso St John
  • Erich Wiesner and Otto Steidle
  • Gigon/Guyer
  • O’Donnell + Tuomey
  • Sauerbruch Hutton
  • Steven Holl
  • UN Studio.

The book provides clear insights into how particular contemporary architects use color confidently and intelligently as an integral part of their design philosophy, in conjunction with their choices of materials and finishes.

Offering a stimulating view of the history of color theory, and pragmatic advice to practicing architects, this book will be inspiring to both design professionals and students.


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Introduction investigations in the professional palette
Colour form and material surface
The unattainable myth of novelty Caruso St John
An intuitive palette ODonnell + Tuomey
Whos afraid of red yellow and blue? Erich Wiesner and Otto Steidle
Place space colour and light Steven Holl
Surface and edge GigonGuyer
Transformational instrumental colour UN Studio
Navigation communication and language
Playing space laws rules and prescription
Image credits

Memories associations and the brightness of yellow AHMM
Synergies and discords Sauerbruch Hutton

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About the author (2013)

Fiona McLachlan is Professor of Architectural Practice and head of the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) at the University of Edinburgh, and is a practising architect.

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