How to Use Color to Accent Architectural Designs

How to Use Color to Accent Architectural Designs

When organizing the elements, materials, and colors of an architectural layout, architects can successfully guide users through a room and its various spaces, creating an easy and seamless path for those who inhabit it. By exploring innovative strategies to create new ways to arrange a space, architecture can use color to reinforce certain aspects of a project’s scheme. The use of color in architectural design combines different factors beyond aesthetic preferences by also affecting the emotions and behavior of the user. Before embarking on the selection of colors, the design process involves certain decisions, such as the architectural elements to be emphasized, whether there is zoning or division of spaces in the use of colors, the creation of focal points and the consideration of how each color is associated with a determined mood.

With a breakdown of five architectural projects, the following article analyzes how color is applied as a design strategy to define spaces through three categories: structure, elements and objects, and space definition.

“The color in certain places has the great value of making outlines and structural planes more energetic” – Antoni Gaudi

Structure

Although not always clearly identifiable, highlighting structural elements can add value to architectural design. Load-bearing structures, reinforced concrete, structural steel, tensile structures or a combination of these are recognized as basic structures or frameworks in architecture. In the architectural structure, there are main components that support its bearing capacity such as foundations, floors, floor frame, walls, beams or columns. By adding color to certain components, architectural layouts can transform the structure into an aesthetic feature.

Extension Color through a double ceiling structure

Unlike the light color palette used for floors, ceilings and furniture, “Blue House” highlights the presence of beams, pillars, window frames and stairs with the use of a different color . Combined with cool and secure spaces, the choice of blue for the architectural structure creates a sense of stability through the eyes of the user.

Aiming to create a wide, clean and integrated space, the layout of the project is supported by a blue steel structure and precast slabs. The design plays with a “hide and seek” of columns and beams, where their blue color seems to appear and disappear inside the walls. Suspended from the upper structure, the colored stairs fulfill two roles: an attractive visual element and a functional connection between the areas. Even though the house combines wall sill and structural steel, the application of color to the latter highlights its structural hierarchy.

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Blue House / Bruno Levy. Image © Manuel Sà
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Blue House / Bruno Levy. Image © Manuel Sà
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Blue House / Bruno Levy. Image © Manuel Sà

Keep Load Bearing Elements Green

As part of a renovation project for a 1971 house, the architectural strategy was to add ventilation and natural light to the living spaces. By demolishing the interior walls, “Gama House” created an integrated environment surrounded by a new green structure, which not only supports the second floor of the building, but adds color to the space while maintaining a simple layout.

The selection of pastel green to differentiate the front door, stairs, pillars and floor framing structure creates a soothing and relaxing experience for the user. 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 element main decoration.

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Gama House / Studio ArchitectUras. Image © Julia Novoa
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Gama House / Studio ArchitectUras. Image © Julia Novoa
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Gama House / Studio ArchitectUras. Image © Julia Novoa

Elements and Objects

When designing architectural layouts, different elements can help define a space. The possibilities for arranging elements are endless, but how can color reinforce its presence in architecture? Colors can be an effective way to highlight or tone down certain elements of a space.

blue frame

A small house renovation in the late 1990s transformed an abandoned space into an out-of-town weekend and vacation retreat. In keeping with the serenity of living in the vast fields of the countryside, the shade of blue chosen seeks to emphasize the calm while remaining playful. The doors, the window frames and the structure of the porch are highlighted by the presence of “Azul França” (Bleu de France), a strong color that follows the shade of the paint formerly used on the gates and fences of the closed. As such, white and blue tiles enhance the way color memories guide the design strategy of the renovation.

The layout keeps the same color and material palette inside and out of the house, using textured gray concrete for the floors, white concrete walls, natural wood objects and blue to set it apart. specific items and objects. The application of color to certain elements, such as the window frames, allows the house to take advantage of its location – located at the highest point of the site – and to guide the views of the landscape, with the porch as an extension. from the main social area of ​​the house.

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Serrana House / Coplanar Studio. Image © Julia Totoli
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Serrana House / Coplanar Studio. Image © Julia Totoli
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Serrana House / Coplanar Studio. Image © Julia Totoli

Release Color in the neighborhood

To meet the needs of new residents, a home renovation in a high-density residential neighborhood followed the design of an intimate space set in a crowded context. Thus, “Nhaso 27 House” follows a color strategy that keeps simple and lighter colors inside and leaves a bright red for the exterior architectural elements, invigorating the facade and, therefore, the neighborhood.

The white concrete volume plays with touches of red on the stairs, railings and steel doors to draw attention to them. Thus, the landscaping brings only three colors to the game: white for the mass of concrete, green from the vegetation and red to distinguish certain elements. During the renovation process, the color red was one of the factors chosen to remain intact, keeping the decision of the initial layout.

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Nhaso 27 House / architects. Image © Paul Phan
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Nhaso 27 House / architects. Image © Paul Phan
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Nhaso 27 House / architects. Image © Paul Phan

Definition of spaces

Picking the right color can turn a void into an eye-catching space. Depending on the color chosen – which responds to the type of use of the project – architecture can create soothing, bright or cheerful spaces, among other things, by constructing different scenarios that influence the perception of space.

A touch of yellow

The Community Arts Lab (CO*LAB) showcases the fabric of the existing building through the introduction of bright yellow dashes – in various forms – in the kitchen, theatre, workshops and studios. With the zoning of spaces – creating more than one zone in the same room – yellow is used to distinguish elements of the building’s predominantly black and white walls and floors. The project’s approach to the use of color and lighting aims to diffuse its energy into the street life of the neighborhood.

The gallery space plays with the placement of polycarbonate glove panels and the diffused light received by the large glass doors that communicate with the street. Facing the street, the varied materiality of the facade combines existing elements with a bright yellow that draws attention to the new architectural elements. Inside, the design of an “all yellow” corridor shows how color transforms an empty space into a new atmosphere evoking cheerfulness. In the words of Pablo Picasso, “colors, like lines, follow the changes of emotions”.

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CO*LAB Gallery / RPK Architects . Image © Adam Borman
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CO*LAB Gallery / RPK Architects . Image © Adam Borman
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CO*LAB Gallery / RPK Architects . Image © Adam Borman

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