How to use color to accent architectural designs
In organizing the elements, materials and colors of an architectural layout, architects can successfully guide users through a space and its different areas, creating a simple and seamless path for occupants. By exploring innovative strategies to create new types of space design, architecture can use color to reinforce certain aspects of a project scheme. The use of color in architectural design combines various factors that go beyond aesthetic preferences by also influencing the emotions and behavior of the user. Before starting the color selection, the design process involves certain decisions, e.g. B. which architectural elements to emphasize, whether there is a zoning or division of spaces within the use of color, creating focal points and considering how each color is associated with a particular mood.
Using a breakdown of five architectural projects, the following article analyzes how color is used as a design strategy to define space through three categories: structure, elements and objects, and definition of space.
“Color in certain places has great value in making the outlines and structural planes appear more energetic” – Antoni Gaudi
While not always clearly identifiable, highlighting structural elements can add value to architectural design. Wall-bearing structures, reinforced concrete, structural steel, tension structures or a combination thereof are recognized as basic structures or frames in architecture. Within the architectural structure there are major components that maintain its load-bearing capacity, such as foundations, floors, floor frames, walls, beams or columns. By adding color to specific components, architectural layouts can transform structure into an aesthetic component.
In contrast to the light color palette used for floors, ceilings and furniture, “Blue House” emphasizes the presence of beams, columns, window frames and stairs through the use of a different color. Associated with cool and safe spaces, the choice of blue for the architectural structure creates a sense of stability in the eyes of the user.
Aiming to create a wide, clean and integrated space, the project’s layout is supported by a blue steel frame structure and prefabricated panels. The design plays with a “hide and show” of the columns and beams, where their blue color seems to appear and disappear in the walls. Hanging from the superstructure, colored stairs fulfill two functions: an attractive visual element and a functional connection between areas. Even though the house combines wall-bearing with structural steel, the application of paint to the latter emphasizes its structural hierarchy.
Keep supporting elements green
In a 1971 home renovation project, the architectural strategy aimed to bring ventilation and natural light into the living spaces. By demolishing the interior walls, Gama House created an integrated environment enclosed by a new green structure that not only supports the building’s second floor but adds color to the space while maintaining a simple layout.
The choice of pastel green to differentiate the front door, stairs, pillars and floor frame structure creates a calming and relaxing experience for the user. While maintaining a minimalist decorative interior, the material strategy plays with a combination of wood and porcelain tiles for the floor, exposed brick and concrete for the walls, and green steel for the structure, which is characterized as the main decorative element.
elements and objects
When designing architectural layouts, there are several elements that can help define a space. The ways in which elements can be arranged are endless, but how can color enhance its presence in architecture? Colors can be an effective way to emphasize or tone down certain elements in a room.
A small home renovation in the late 1990s transformed an abandoned space into an out-of-town weekend and vacation spot. In harmony with the serenity of life in the vast fields of the landscape, the chosen shade of blue tries to emphasize tranquility while remaining playful. Doors, window frames and the structure of the porch are highlighted by the presence of “Azul França” (France Blue), a bold color that follows the hue of the color formerly used for the farm’s gates and fences. As such, white and blue tiles enhance how color reminders guide the renovation’s design strategy.
The layout maintains the same color and material palette throughout the home’s interior and exterior, using textured gray concrete for the floors, white concrete walls, natural wood objects, and blue to emphasize certain elements and objects. The application of color to specific elements such as window frames allows the home to take advantage of its location – at the highest point of the property – and draw views of the landscape, with the lanai being an extension of the home’s most important social area.
unleashing color in the neighborhood
To meet the needs of the new residents, a home renovation in a high-density residential area followed the design of an intimate space in a crowded context. Thus, “Nhaso 27 House” follows a color strategy that keeps simple and brighter colors inside, leaving a bright red for the external architectural elements, enlivening the facade and consequently the neighborhood.
The white concrete volume plays with red accents on the steel stairs, railings and doors to draw people’s attention to them. Therefore, the exterior layout brings only three colors into play: white for the concrete mass, green for the vegetation, and red to emphasize certain elements. During the renovation process, the color red was one of the factors chosen to remain intact and maintain the decision of the original layout.
Definition of spaces
Choosing the right color can transform emptiness into an eye-catching space. Depending on the color chosen – which corresponds to the type of use of the project – architecture can create, among other things, soothing, luminous or cheerful spaces and build different scenarios that affect the perception of space.
A dash of yellow
The Community Arts Laboratory (CO*LAB) elevates the substance of the existing building through the introduction of bright yellow strokes—in various forms—throughout the galley, theater, workshops, and studios. Along with zoning spaces – creating more than one area within the same space – yellow is used to set elements apart from the building’s mostly black-and-white walls and floors. The project’s approach to the use of color and lighting aims to radiate its energy into the neighborhood’s street life.
The gallery space plays with the implementation of gloved polycarbonate panels and the diffused light received from the large glass doors connected to the street. On the street side, the varied materiality of the façade combines existing elements with a bright yellow that sets the scene for the new architectural elements. Inside, the design of an all-yellow hallway demonstrates how color transforms an empty space into a new atmosphere that evokes happiness. In the words of Pablo Picasso: “Like facial features, colors follow the changes of emotions.”