Exterior Colour Design:
An area, its buildings and surroundings are often unique and will have very particular colour characteristics.
some guidelines for exterior colour choice
The colour identity of an area and its surroundings
These are pictures of the old city of Stockholm, where the colours have evolved over a period from brick red in the 16th and 17th centuries to light yellow and whiteish grey by the 1800s. Since then the warm colours we see today have become more usual and Stockholm is known as the 'lion yellow' city.
This colour palette study was created in the mid 1960s Jean-Philippe Lenclos. It is just one example from a huge study of the colours of France which was funded by the French Government and appears in the book 'Les couleurs de la France', which I've listed. Lenclos carefully studied the colours of the environment and identified those colours using NCS coloured sheets as a practical way of communicating the colours.
His research work included sketches and colour combinations as well as the collection of materials. This is a study made in Scotland. In later work Lenclos included photographic studies as well as sketches and materials.
Lenclos' work influenced many architects and designers including Tom Porter who taught at Oxford Brookes. His own method of colour mapping followed that of Lenclos and included photographic references.
This is a colour palette that Tom Porter was commissioned to create for the city of Oslo.
And just one of the shots that made up part of the photographic study.
Tom Porter brought Lenclos' work to the attention of students and architects in this country. As a result he has been a major influence as a colourist and a tutor.
I've listed the book 'Colour for architecture today' which he edited with Byron Mikellides in our bibliography and really recommend it as a comprehensive guide.
These are colour palettes for Newhall, a distinctive new neighbourhood in Harlow, Essex, were created for Studio Real who are based in Oxford. Tom's detailed study of the materials and colours used in local traditional architecture in the area informed four palettes which are used to describe facades, roofs, paintwork and floorscape.
The master plan demonstrates how high quality contemporary architecture located within a site that responds to its context can create an identity for the neighbourhood. To achieve this, the Newhall Design Code stipulates a colour and materials palette to be used to create contemporary architecture.
These few slides illustrate a colour study carried out to protect the historic colours of the Alfama district of Lisbon.
You can see how important it would be to protect the colour palette for an area like this.
|The colour analysis uses the NCS colour circle and triangle to represent the hues and the nuances of colours identified, which are then shown alongside.
And then as colour samples.
This shows parts of an award winning ‘Design guide and colour study’ by the architects department at Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council showed a commitment to ensure good design throughout the region. Colour is one of seven design principles used collectively in planning considerations.
The comprehensive colour study was based on days of on-site research across the borough, using NCS to identify key colours. Four distinct colour palettes were developed to reflect the colours found and observed in each area - areas that vary from moorland to industrial.
Referencing the colours to the NCS Colour System ensures that these colour palettes can be translated accurately and successfully into the built environment.
The plan was drawn up by the Architects Department at Blackburn with Darwen who commissioned the colour research and plan from Jem Waygood at Eaton Waygood Associates. He has recently completed an inspirational study for the Isle of Man and another study in Wales, both of which we hope to show as case studies on our website very soon.
These three boards show how the palettes of colour came together based on photographic studies and collection of materials. These were analysed using NCS so that the colours could be communicated and specified for paint, cladding, cement, plastics, powder coating, etc.
This unique colour project was carried out over a period of 20 years. Commissioned by the Spitzbergen Coal Company, the designer Grete Smedal gradually created a colour profile and then a colour plan, which is documented in her book ‘Longyearbyen in colour – status and challenges’, which I’ve listed.
The extreme climate means that vegetation is very sparse and the appearance of the landscape changes from snow in the winter to earth and black gravel in the summer. Together with the dramatically seasonal changes in daylight hours, this made the project extremely demanding. NCS colours of almost equal whiteness, blackness and chromaticness and of medium lightness were found to give sufficient contrast to the environment throughout the seasons and have resulted in a colour plan that includes both housing and public buildings.
Many cities around the world have now developed colour plans to ensure their unique character. Examples of these are Moscow and Hong Kong where plans have all been based on the same type of analysis using NCS.
Some buildings stand alone by virtue of their design and their colour. These iconic buildings are by architects who are often also artists or have a fine art training, and a lot of knowledge about colour. They are architects who consider colour at the point of concept. We could all think of examples but I’ll just include this one by Sauerbruch Hutton where NCS colours were used at the model stage and carried through into the specification.
Louisa Hutton said: 'In the case of the Photonic Centre in Berlin, we knew at the competition stage that the buildings would be wrapped or clad in an abstracted version of the spectrum.' The theme of light led to the spectral colour treatment on the skin of the buildings: 36 different colours (of mineral paint) have been applied to the concrete columns within the double façade, and the solar blinds between the columns have been powder-coated from the same family of colours. This type of colour sequence is possible in the NCS system where the visual properties of each colour is known and colours can be balanced by nuance: that is by having the same blackness and chromaticness but different hues.
The use of corporate colour on buildings or exterior signs is usually designed to be highly visible and enable recognition of the company or brand – not to make creative statements or to enhance the immediate environment. In colour terms it requires careful management to achieve a consistent result so that corporate colours and combinations of colour can be recognised immediately.
To quote TfL: ‘Carefully controlled use of corporate, mode, safety and London Underground line colours is highly effective in communicating the strengths of the organisation. Consistent use of colour across journey planners, signage and livery, etc, also helps guide passengers to their destination.’ NCS has featured in the Transport for London guidelines for more than 20 years.
Next > >
NCS – Natural Colour System®© property of NCS Colour AB, Stockholm. References to NCS®© are used with permission from NCS Colour AB.