"Provides an introduction to the complex field of colour in terms of knowledge, research and practical applications
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English Pages 120  Year 2011
Colours have the power to stir emotions and awaken memories. Artists are not unique in their use of colour; scientists,
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This book analyses international Green Infrastructure (GI) planning and design strategies. The GI strategy is widely rec
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Many designs that appear in today's society will circulate and encounter audiences of many different cultures and l
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This edited volume offers a theoretically driven, empirically grounded survey of the role visual communication plays in
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Urban riverbanks are attractive locations and highly prized recreational environments. The designs of urban river landsc
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For thousands of years people have aligned their homes with the sun. This tendency decreased with the availability of ar
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Table of contents :
Materiality and technology
Colour systems – illustrating, comparing, communicating
Planning with colour in space
Designing spatial atmospheres – the fundamentals of designing with light
Colour in the city – colour in the countryside
Colour in the past, present and future
Colour in 20th century architecture Identification. Understanding. Maintenance
Colour in 1970s architecture in Berlin and Zurich – the history of “colour culture” and the use of colour, now and in the future
From classic Modernism to contemporary colour design
Examples of projects
Brandhorst Museum in Munich (D)
University building in Paris (F)
Jewish community centre in Mainz (D)
Secondary school in Eching (D)
Flower market in Barcelona (E)
Museum and cultural centre in Aomori (J)
Public housing in Paris (F)
Kindergarten in Monthey (CH)
New town centre in Barking (GB)
Manufacturers and companies
Colour Design principles Planning strategies Visual communication
Author Axel Buether, Prof. Dr.-Ing. University of Wuppertal, teaching Didactics of Visual Communication; Chairman of the Deutsches Farbenzentrum e.V.
Co-authors Anke Augsburg, Dipl.-Des. Dipl.-Ing. Thomas Danzl, Prof. Dr. phil. Dott. Andreas Kalweit, Prof. Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Dipl.-Des. AnneMarie Neser, Dr.-Ing. M.A. Timo Rieke, Verw.-Prof., Dipl.-Des. Lino Sibillano, art historian M.A. Axel Venn, Prof. Dipl.-Des. Marcella Wenger-Di Gabriele, Dipl.-Farbgestalterin HF Stefanie Wettstein, Dr. phil., art historian M.A.
Publisher Editorial services and editorial assistants: Steffi Lenzen (Project Manager); Kirsten Rachowiak; Samay Claro, Sophie Karst, Florian Köhler, Nicola Kollmann, Eva Schönbrunner Drawings: Ralph Donhauser, Emese M. Köszegi, Nicola Kollmann, Simon Kramer Translation into English: Christina McKenna, Lindsay Munroe, Keiki Communication, Berlin Copy Editor: Rebecca Hudson, Keiki Communication, Berlin Proofreading: Philip Shelley, Zurich
© 2014 Institut für internationale Architektur-Dokumentation GmbH & Co. KG, Munich An Edition DETAIL book
978-3-95553-208-6 (Print) 978-3-95553-209-3 (E-Book) 978-3-95553-210-9 (Bundle) Printed on acid-free paper made from cellulose bleached without the use of chlorine. This work is protected by copyright. All rights are reserved, specifically the right of translation, reprinting, citation, re-use of illustrations and tables, broadcasting, reproduction on microfilm or in other ways, and storage of the material, in whole or in part, in databases. For any kind of use, permission of the copyright owner must be obtained.
Typesetting & production: Simone Soesters Printed by: Kessler Druck + Medien, Bobingen 1st edition, 2014 This book is also available in a German language edition (ISBN 978-3-920034-96-6). Bibliographic information published by Die Deutsche Bibliothek. Die Deutsche Bibliothek lists this publication in the Deutsche Nationalbibliographie; detailed bibliographic data is available on the internet at http://dnb.ddb.de. Institut für internationale Architektur-Dokumentation GmbH & Co. KG Hackerbrücke 6, 80335 Munich Tel: +49 89 381620-0 Fax: +49 89 381620-77 www.detail.de
∂ Practice Colour
Materiality and technology
33 38 43 50
Design fundamentals Colour systems – illustrating, comparing, communicating Planning with colour in space Colour concepts Designing spatial atmospheres – the fundamentals of designing with light
Colour in the city – colour in the countryside
Colour in the past, present and future Colour in 20th century architecture Identification. Understanding. Maintenance. Colour in 1970s architecture in Berlin and Zurich – the history of “colour culture” and the use of colour, now and in the future From classic Modernism to contemporary colour design
96 98 100 102 104 106 108 110 112
Examples of projects Brandhorst Museum in Munich (D) University building in Paris (F) Jewish community centre in Mainz (D) Secondary school in Eching (D) Flower market in Barcelona (E) Museum and cultural centre in Aomori (J) Public housing in Paris (F) Kindergarten in Monthey (CH) New town centre in Barking (GB)
114 114 116 118 119
Appendix Authors Literature Manufacturers and companies Picture credits Index
The function of colour – an introduction to colour theory and a definition of terms Axel Buether
Colour is both a phenomenon and a medium of visual perception and communication. Colour illuminates and light colours As a phenomenon , colour shapes how people experience the environment visually, while as a medium, it conveys meaning, emotional moods and functional information. As luminous colour it appears atmospheric and diffuse to the viewer, while as non-luminous colour, shape and form materialise from it. The antithesis of coloured light is darkness, which shows its influence on the aesthetics and function of the phenomenal world in the spatial play of shadows. The complex sensations of colour result from the interaction of light with the entire organism. Colour and light form two sides of the same phenomenon, since colour illuminates and light colours. Colours shape the appearance of the natural environment, which varies in terms of climate and topography. They make it possible for diverse forms of life to orient themselves and to communicate in ways specific to their species. Colour creates identity. These biological functions do not only shape the natural environment – they also determine the aesthetics of the cultural space that illustrates the forms of visual communication between people. Colour’s potential for expression and communication evolves with the cultural development of individuals and societies. It finds expression in all manifestations of life, in words, pictures, objects, spaces and performances. Colour is the most important design tool for configuring the environment aesthetically, as the abstract lineal structures of the planning phase take on a physical form in the atmospheric and material manifestations of built space. The entire material culture is designed according to the biological
principles of visual perception. People must be able to identify the purpose of an artefact by looking at it in order to orient themselves, use it or protect themselves against it. Orientation is an essential function of colour, since the spatial resolution of all material structures increases exponentially with every nuance of brightness and perceptible hue. This principle can be seen in the pixel composition of a digital image. Whole image planes disappear or appear, shift, or form new relationships when colour and brightness are manipulated. The separation of the colour spectrum into chromatic and achromatic colours derives from the mode of operation of the visual system, which processes the colourfulness and brightness of luminous and non-luminous colours separately. By practising colour perception, the achromatic components of a hue can be identified and assigned to a grey tone in the scale between black and white. Similarly, values can be assigned to the chromatic components of pure colours or colour mixtures whose classification reflects the processing of visual signals in the brain, as explained elsewhere (see p. 12ff.). Pure black, white and grey hues only occur rarely in nature, since organic and inorganic materials always include coloured particles as a result of their development process. The aesthetics of achromatic colours are based on the abstraction processes of artistic cultural techniques in which information is generated by lines and gradual nuances between light and dark. Black ink and white paper now dominate not only text and image production, but also the appearance of the entire cultural space via the industrial dyeing of raw materials. The most frequently
used pure achromatic pigments are crystalline titanium white and printer’s carbon black. The latter is reduced as a by-product of combustion processes to almost pure carbon. These two biologically insignificant achromatic colours account for about two-thirds of worldwide pigment production . The effects of this on the appearance of the Earth can now be observed from space. The fundamental difference between natural and cultural space can therefore be recognised as regards both form and colour. The reduction of the spectrum to achromatic colours means that the perception of the environment shifts. Some levels of information, such as light and shadow, become more prominent, while others disappear completely. The non-use of chromatic colours increases the perception of the contours and volume of buildings and objects in proportion to the decrease in the importance of the surface. The emphasis on the outlines puts lengths, widths, depths, proportions and additions at the forefront of perception. Information on the time of day, mood, atmosphere, materiality and tactility becomes less important as a result of the chromatic colour abstraction process and recedes into the background. Colour, which thereby loses its meaning is used merely as a filler for linear structures, easily becoming decoration. The amount of colourfulness shifts the focus of the object and spatial perception. Colour should therefore always be used purposively in architecture and design. Too many colours (or more precisely, too much colour-coded information) can be just as disorientating as too few colours. Colour design is visual communication. In nature, colour is a result of evolution: as a result, all the 7
The function of colour
colours of flora and fauna are exactly as needed and appropriate for the conservation of life forms. Brightly coloured habitats such as coral reefs or fields of flowers are also part of complex communication systems, as are birds, insects and other polychromatic life forms. Once the balance of natural colour is altered, the affected forms of life adjust or disappear. Thus, the survival of over 60 per cent of all plant species on Earth is dependent on pollination by bees, whose long-distance orientation derives from the specific colour spectrum of flowers . In the design of cultural space, the human species clearly distinguishes itself from the appearance of the natural environment. The colours of cities, buildings, interiors, everyday objects and works of art bear witness to new functions that shape the communal life of modern societies. Human beings’ cultural evolution has altered many of the requirements of the colour coding of the environment. The taste and nutritional value of food, the shape and feel of surfaces, and the atmosphere and comfort of living spaces continue to be evaluated on the basis of their colour-coded appearance. Furthermore, the culturally coded colours of the surfaces of countless products, packaging, accessories, interiors and facades have significantly changed evolutionary perception and orientation mechanisms . While the colours of nature provide orientation for 13 to 20 million species, the colours of the cultural space meet the communicative needs of a single group of organisms . Until the formation of modern societies, the colour design of cultural space was largely achieved through the use and application of regional resources and 8
technologies . Imports of building materials, raw materials and dyes were extremely expensive and could only be used in major construction projects, products and works of art. The colours of the historically developed cultural space reflect economic processes and serve the biological purpose of representation, which controls social behaviour among a species. Codes of colour and form facilitate social differentiation between public and private life, poverty and wealth, religion and profanity, rurality and urbanity. Over the course of cultural history, a regionally differentiated colour-coding system was formed all over the world. This system makes it possible to perceive, shape and convey social identity. Industrialisation brought about a profound change in production, transportation and communication conditions. The global use of modern building materials and technologies is leading to increasing standardisation in the appearance of people’s living and working spaces. The loss of identity this causes creates a need for reorientation. In turn, this poses great challenges for creative planning professionals and policy makers and calls for responsible action. During the design process, the right values for the colour scheme, which always involves colour coding, must unfailingly be renegotiated in the context of the application, situation and task, so that orientation is created, maintained or improved. Knowledge of physical, chemical, neurobiological, psychological, philosophical, semiotic, culturalhistorical and sociological findings and of practical applications can assist the design process. However, there is no method of calculation, no description model and no planning procedure by
which the complex effects of colour in situ can be fully grasped. Colour becomes a design tool when planners and decision makers move beyond conventional appraisals such as “beautiful” or “ugly” and instead deal with and solve the communicative functions of colour perception and design. Colour as a medium of visual perception As soon as people open their eyes, information enters the approximately 120 to 250 million photoreceptor cells in a permanent exchange of information with the environment. Not even five per cent of these cells are able to transform the spectrum of light into colour signals, and yet they determine the form of visual perception. The fact that people still see a coloured, sharply contoured environment throughout the entire field of view is a result of processing methods in the brain, whose comprehension is essential for explaining visual perception and communication. During the perception process, viewers ask questions about the colour appearance of the environment through their eye movements and, at the same time, look for answers. Through eye gestures, a viewer asks what something is, where it is, where it comes from, where it is going, what it has done, what it is doing and what it will do. This question-and-answer process determines the formation of the object in the process of visual perception.
Colour as pure form in an image: Homage to the Square by Josef Albers, six serigraphs, silkscreen prints, 1965. Colour as a conveyor of content and meaning in an image: Maisons à l’Estaque by Paul Cézanne, oil painting, circa 1885. Schematic drawing of the distribution of the photoreceptor cells in the retina. If the view focuses on the point at the centre, all of the letters appear in the same resolution.
The function of colour
What is not questioned, whether through words, looks or artistic representations, remains in the background of perception and is not seen. These circumstances apply to the visual arts, which have long played a role in communication, as well as to the perception of architectural space. The meaning and significance of spaces, images and text are objectively present via the existence of a culturally determined domain of language. However, they still need to be subjectively understood. The extent, content quality and evaluation of the responses are determined by the viewer’s attention behaviour and previous experiences. Seeing involves the cognitive processing of visual and spatial data that exist objectively only as colour stimuli of the retina. Subjects must develop meanings and contexts autonomously via their previous experiences in the context of the use situation. Colour is therefore a medium of visual perception. For this reason, people are usually less interested in the colour itself than in the interpretations of the content that it facilitates. This difference becomes clear in the juxtaposition of abstract and concrete painting, where colour is applied as a pure form or as a conveyor of content and meaning (Fig. 1, 2). In architecture and design, colour is used in a similar way, as it can be effective as a pure form or as a conveyor of content. A holistic view of environmental perception explains the complexity of visual communication between experts and lay people, designers and users, locals and foreigners, and between people of different ages and with different social and educational backgrounds. The perception and effect of colours can thus only be planned in relation to the socio-cultural and developmental background of the target group, which can
be included in the design process as individuals, groups, communities or societies. From a physiological point of view, the question-and-answer process of visual communication can be read through the information flows in the perceptual system. This is because more sensory motor data travel from the brain to the muscles of the eye than vice versa. Only those who actively observe and investigate the environment with an attentive gaze are able to construct complex content-related information from the distribution of coloured pixels within the field of view. At the same time, this process becomes faster with constant practice, since the brain automatically develops methods for asking the important questions by directing attention to the significant points in the field of view. In the same way that people use the tip of their index finger to touch something, they constantly move their eyes across the temporally and spatially structured network of colour-coded areas and discern letters, shapes and spaces. The content-related information and the function of built space is therefore not interpreted from what the designer draws, but rather from what viewers construct during the perception process. It is not the pen, but rather the direction of a person’s gaze along the coloured areas in the field of view that determines the aesthetics of the phenomenon. In turn, this is influenced by the perception of the emotional content and function of all its parts in relation to one another and to the whole. Form follows colour
While eye movements are guided by the lines in a drawing, they follow colour in built space. The eyes’ orientation movements in the field of view can be recorded via mobile and stationary eye-tracking methods that allow the neurosciences
and the communication sciences to engage in the systematic study of visual perception and communication. Extensive psychological studies on user behaviour, as well as effective practical applications have evolved in the field of marketing and advertising in recent years. In architecture, art and design, the use of eye-tracking measurement has only just started, with mobile eye-tracking systems also playing a role. Such measurements can demonstrate how a specific observer sees images, objects and spaces, as it is possible to record the temporal sequence of fixations or pauses by the eyes, during which information can be perceived. The longer the eyes remain fixed on any particular element, the more intense is the interaction with the form and content of the colour composition. Plans, drawings, prints, paintings, photographs, films, sculptures, performances and architecture are perceived in different ways. The legibility of the content and function varies with the form of representation, thus forcing the designer to select the technology and to restrict the media employed. Any change to the colour coding or contrast can influence the eye movements and thus the interpretation process. The decision on where and which surface colours are to be used in the design should therefore rely less on subjective opinions than on proven knowledge of the viewing conduct of the users or target group. Orientation in space is not random, but rather the result of messages designed in a way that can be understood. The observer’s eye movements focus involuntarily on the most meaningful spatial data, through which is created and maintained orientation in the environment. At this point, the formal effects of colour should be addressed, since they derive from the physiology of the perceptual system and can be explained using exam9
The function of colour
ples. Visual perception always starts with the creation of orientation in space. This involves determining the location of the elements of relevance to the content in relation to the light source, the topographic reference level and the observer. Orientation is therefore created by the brain only in so far as contents can be interpreted and located in a familiar spatial reference system. This makes clear why and when people experience problems with spatial orientation. Major infrastructure such as railway stations and airports may confuse inexperienced users just as sprawling or monotonously designed suburbs or foreign cultural spaces can. The spatial reference system in an observer’s memory consists not only of striking colour features, but also, to a far greater extent, of shape and motion coding. This is also perceived via colour codes, especially when touch is not possible . The larger the spatial scale and the less the other senses are able to assist in orientation, the more important colour becomes. The grammar of seeing
Eye-tracking demonstrates the need for the composition of all important elements in the field of vision into a clearly perceptible and comprehensible sensory whole. Since only two degrees in the field of view can be focused on and consciously seen, the entire remainder forms the background to the perceptual situation at that moment. This background is not only important for atmosphere, but it also directs the eye to the next important goal in view. The eyes frequently do not focus on the elements, a process requiring about one second, but only look at them in a sweeping glance. As a result, many elements are not consciously perceived, although they are evaluated by the implicit memory. Optical illusions and effects provide extensive illustrative mate10
rial on how the visual perceptual system works. This process can be observed particularly clearly in perimeter areas (Fig. 4) . Peripheral perception is sufficient in order to identify important interior and exterior reference elements such as the sky, topography and forests or buildings, walls, ceilings, floors, doors and corridors. Individual shapes merge to form larger contexts if there is insufficient colour differentiation, as the peripheral regions of the retina can hardly recognise any details. For this reason, people can find their way around natural and urban spaces without having to recognise or remember many elements. Colour can move things into the foreground of perception or leave them in the background. It thus has a crucial influence on the culture of memory and visual education, on all visually coded information that people retain in their memories of images, objects and spaces. On the basis of colour differentiation, the brain provides orientation in just a few seconds. However, the conscious perception of all substantive and functional components in a space calls for closer observation and considerably longer viewing time than that involved in the purely orientation process. Vision and memory follow the visualisation or explication of implicit information in the peripheral part of the field of view. A person usually only invests the time needed to do this if they are interested in interpreting the visual information or feels an emotional connection . Colour creates awareness and interest in the perception situation, an effect that can be heightened to fascination. If one allows oneself to be inspired by the colours of the natural or cultural realm and to pause before them in amazement, one will perceive the associated locations, content and events more intensely and coherently, as well as in greater detail, and remember them for longer.
Environmental perception versus plans
For planners and users, however, misinterpretations of colour perception can cause great difficulties, since these can only be detected in the transition between drawing and implementation. While colour materials are transformed in painting or three-dimensional representations using varying techniques until the desired relationships between the shapes are achieved, the operating principle of visual perception is reversed in the process of line or plan drawing. The restriction of the representation to light and shade or the palpable contrast boundaries between objects and spaces means that the relationships between the shapes emerge more strongly and become more important. This abstraction process characterises all methods of creative design that serve to direct the attention in mediaspecific ways. Once spaces are implemented in reality in accordance with design drawings, perception shifts from the line to the surface. Geometric and free line illustrations are based on the extensive abstraction abilities of the brain, as designers take geometry and the perspective of the boundary lines as a starting point in such drawings. The contrasting effects of luminous and non-luminous colours are deliberately neglected, so that the constructive relationships of the image space come to light more clearly. Architectural drawing requires an intensive learning process in the brain, in which the motor power of the hand movement increases simultaneously with the cognitive performance of visual perception. Contrast borders are not automatically lines, but are made visible, conceivable and representable through the abstraction of colour information in the process of environmental perception. Only a fraction of the borders of contrasting areas of colour is displayed in a line
The function of colour
image) of the retinal projection. The terms can be understood by means of comparison with the optical system of a camera, as all parameters can be controlled by changing the aperture and focal length. The light sensitivity of the sensory elements is continuously adjusted, thus transmitting the necessary information on the colour temperature of the light source for the brain to produce a white balance. As a result of this sensory information, the brain can control all of the contrast ratios of the retinal projection and create a uniform impression of perception that is known as colour constancy. When two
drawing. Specific knowledge and skills in representing the processes of abstraction between colour and shape determine the formation of drawing skills. Non-experts find the clarity of thought and design required by drawings or line sketches to be as difficult as reading plans. However, the acquisition of drawing skills does not mean that the implementation of the design in the reality of a built space can be equally taken into account and is mentally present in every line of the design process (Fig. 5, 6). The differentiated planning of atmospheres and material colours determines the perception of light and shadow, depth and surface, proximity and distance, and objects and space. The spatial perception of the environment is influenced by so many factors that it can only be simulated to a very limited extent by rendering programmes. Any change of scale, lighting or surrounding colours alters the effects of luminous and non-luminous colours. In turn, this has major implications for the perception of shape and space. The abstract structure of the line drawing becomes discernible according to the rules of colour perception.
The Hermann grid illusion: the points of intersection in the centre of the image appear white, while at the periphery they appear black, thus illustrating the influence of interest and attention on the perception of colour and shape. Louis I. Kahn preparing designs for the Fisher House, Hatboro, Pennsylvania (US) 1961. The atmospheric effects of the surface colours in the living room in the Fisher House reveal the demands placed on the designer’s experiencebased knowledge and imagination during the planning phase.
The spatiality of retinal projection
The first physical contact between the environment’s irradiation and the body occurs in the cornea of the eye. This is where the light is broken before being directed onto the retina by the circular pupillary opening in the iris and by the lens. The iris allows the pupillary opening to adapt to the energy conditions in the environment, as it functions as an intelligent, muscularly controlled “aperture” and regulates “exposure” to the retina. It limits the expansion and the solid angle of the incoming irradiation, thus regulating the brightness, depth of field and vignetting (the shading at the edge of the
The function of colour
Levator palpebrae superioris muscle Trochlea Superior oblique muscle Superior rectus muscle Internal rectus muscle
7 External rectus muscle Inferior rectus muscle 7
Inferior oblique muscle
identical hues are suddenly perceived as different due to a change in the light source, this gives rise to the effect of metamerism. The opening width of the iris (aperture), the direction of both eyes in relation to each other (vergence) and to the focal point, and the curvature of the lens (depth) are controlled by the brain via the complex coordination of the eye muscles (Fig. 7). Through these sensorimotor signals the brain receives sufficient information on depth for the spatial interpretation of the colour signals from the retinal projection . Because of this muscularly generated spatialisation of colour information, observers can usually distinguish very clearly between the reality of a built space and their own image. Through the intersection of the incoming rays in front of the retina’s projection area, an upside-down projection of the field of view is formed, as the optic system of the eye functions like a camera obscura . Those who conclude that a “perceptual image” arises at this point are at the same level of knowledge as René Descartes, who introduced the notion of a mechanically functioning organism to the world of science 400 years ago . The optical process forms an integral part of the organic and communicative processes, whose importance for visual perception is elaborated in the following sections. Photoreceptor cells and the contrast principle
The retina acts as an energy sensor and transducer, through which the incident electromagnetic radiation is changed via a photochemical process to nerve arousal patterns. The light output of a single photon is sufficient to activate one of the 60 to 125 million brightness-sensitive rods in the retina; the 3.2 to 6.5 million coloursensitive cones require 200 times as much energy. The difference in the number of photoreceptor cells is the cause 12
of individual variations in the spatial resolution of the perceptual space; this is expressed as a percentage in eye tests . Due to the high response threshold of the colour-sensitive cones, people only perceive their environment in full colour and spatial resolution if there is sufficient daylight or artificial light. For the same reason, the red-orange and finally the violet-blue areas of the spectrum regularly disappear at dusk and dawn. That the world appears an intense red-orange just before sunset and sunrise is due to the shorter distance that light must travel through the atmosphere when seen horizontally. Through its reflection and absorption of parts of the light spectrum, the atmosphere’s particle structure also makes the sky appear cyan or whitishgrey in colour and shows the further consolidation of the shining white and grey shadowed cloud formations. The perception of colour stems from the nervous-system’s connection of three different types of cones that respond to the short-wave, medium and longwave parts of the spectrum . The principle of lateral inhibition, which inhibits the surroundings of a source of stimulation in favour of the signal in the centre, enhances colour contrast and thus the perception of form. The orangered, green-yellow and violet-blue colour signals are not seen directly, since they are previously evaluated by the downstream retinal ganglion cells, converted and sent to the brain. Visual pathways and the basic colour principle
The three visual pathways between the eye and the brain are referred to as the red-green channel, the blue-yellow channel and the bright-dark channel. This is because all brightness and colour signals are pre-structured in accordance with the principle of maximum contrast
The optical conditions in the eye are controlled by the brain through the eye muscles. This makes it possible to measure depth relationships, light conditions, movement intentions and behavioural patterns. A cybernetic process develops in the brain as retinal colour signals follow eye movements and control them at the same time.
formation. These complementary contrasts therefore simultaneously determine the basic colour signals (black, white, red, green, blue and yellow). All other hues are derived from various mixtures of these basic colours. The composition of basic and mixed colours in the visible spectrum thus results from the specificity of receptor types and processing mechanisms. Complementary coloured afterimages are generated because the photochemical activity of the receptors continues for some time, depending on the intensity of the light stimulus. The brightness of a colour indicates the intensity of the sensation of light registered by the rods and cones alike. This can be perceived separately from the colourfulness of the spectrum and the saturation of a hue. The light-sensitive rods only react to light in the mid-green wavelength range, which people only perceive as brightness in the absence of a nerve connection. Colourfulness is only perceptible through the comparison of different signals. The strongest form of brightness is associated with the experience of glaring, blinding white light, while the intermediate stages of twilight are perceived as a darkening or opacity until darkness falls. The maximum spatial resolution of the colours of the field of view results from the distribution of the perception areas of all types of receptor, while the quality of the resolution is determined by the overlapping of all frequency ranges. The stimulation range of all cones is superimposed in the middle wavelength range of the spectrum (Fig. 8). The biological function of colour is also evident here, as the visual perceptual system was developed in an environment characterised by vegetation in which a high degree of spatial resolution in the green spectrum was necessary for survival. In contrast, the spatially far more weakly resolved red area aids the perception of significant
The function of colour
Retinal ganglion cells LGN cells
1 L+M “brightness” 0.1 L-M “red-green”
The spectrum available to the three types of cones in the retina overlaps in the central green area, where humans can distinguish the highest number of colours. The red and blue range has significantly fewer shades. The colour signals are structured according to the complimentary principle and travel to the brain through light-dark, redgreen and blue-yellow-channels.
individual events such as human emotions, the degree of ripeness of fruit and the freshness of meat. The composition of the spectrum and the differentiability of individual hues are therefore not random, but instead demonstrate the principle of evolution. From the perception of colour to visual communication
Recent research in the neurosciences shows that the processing of visual information accounts for about 60 per cent of all activity in the cerebral cortex . Colour is therefore decisive in the perception of built space. Its appearance provides people with more information than all the other sensory perceptions combined. This is not to dismiss the performance of the other senses. The physical encounter with the feeling, smell and sound of architecture also contributes significantly to the overall experience of a space. However, not for nothing is sight known as the guiding sense in humans, as the brain constructs a metarepresentation of the environment from the arrangement and variation of colourcoded retinal signals. Colours refer to tactile, auditory, vestibular, gustatory and kinaesthetic experiences. This is the reason why people are more or less able to see how something feels, tastes, smells or sounds, how it moves or if something is in balance. The network of visual, tactile and kinaesthetic experiences functions in an amazingly sophisticated way. Therefore, after a period of multi-sensory experience, people can feel certain that the movement space will appear to recede as they step towards it, while the tactile space will exist whenever something is touched. Perceptual effects  or optical illusions refer to the threshold areas of visual perception, while the survival of the human species proves the success of this principle.
600 700 Wavelength
During the perception process, colour signals enter the three opposing colour channels from the eyes to the brain stem, where they are compared with data arriving simultaneously via the other senses before being emotionally pre-assessed. For this reason, people cannot perceive colour without emotion, regardless of whether it involves atmospheric phenomena or a concrete object . A change of atmosphere or striking colour events prepare the viewer for the coming experience in a split second by altering vital bodily functions such as hormone production, blood sugar levels or breathing. A glimpse of blood-red instinctively draws the eye to the source of the colour and leads to an increase in bodily activity before the viewer is aware of what the colour entails. These involuntary emotionally controlled responses to colours can be traced back to an evolutionarily important fact. Bodily functions vital to survival are activated involuntarily in split seconds by colour stimuli The process of visual comprehension takes place in periods of seconds to minutes. Advertising and marketing have long used these key stimuli professionally to manipulate the attention and mood of potential target groups. In architecture and design, key stimuli are used, for example, in colour guidance systems, where the aim is to warn people and deter them from inappropriate actions. Nobody runs without hesitation in the dark. Everyone’s gaze focuses involuntarily on red. Colour and memory
After the preliminary assessment, the signals in the visual cortex are processed and sent to memory via two main processing streams. The “where and how stream”, which flows to declarative memory, is used in the perception of movement, action, place and position, while the “what stream” that flows to semantic
memory evokes the perception of meaning . This memory structure for knowledge acquired and stored via images is thus similar to the semantics and syntax of verbal language, which enables people to perceive and describe the world in an auditory form. While the verbal form of perception functions via sounds that a listener selects from the audible spectrum and links to form meaningful entities, visual perception is based on the same principle using colour. The selection principle follows the importance attached by viewers to a perceived event in relation to the previous experiences stored in their memory. Visual perception is therefore subjective where it reflects individual experiences and objective where it records socially accepted knowledge and empirically verifiable observations. The combination of sounds in the form of words and sentences or of colours in the form of pixels and pictures, as well as hybrids of both communication media in the form of writing and images, are the result of cultural evolution. The context of a perceptual situation determines the interpretation of the spatial data, which are almost always ambiguous. In verbal language, these distinctions arising from situations are referred to as denotations (literal meanings) and connotations (associative meanings). A colour code can therefore have many meanings and still be understood correctly. Blushing thus indicates a specific state of excitement that may signal emotions such as shame, anger, desire, combat readiness, interest or rejection. A colour code cannot be clearly determined without reference to the context of its use. The same applies to the perception of space – hence a building’s colours can appear harmonious in one context and totally out of place 13
The function of colour
in others. The legibility of the function and the qualities of usage may change as a result of changes in colours in the built context. Colour language – the function of colour in biology The sensations of colour that people can feel and experience particularly intensely during dramatic atmospheric phenomena such as sunsets enrich existence but do not sustain it in terms of survival. The colours of nature form a universal code system, which is used by many living organisms to convey messages that serve to preserve their species. Since many messages are not addressed to humanity, the aesthetics of the environment are often perceived as a wasteful diversity, whose ornamental beauty triggers admiration and fascination. This point of view ignores the wide-ranging visual forms of communication that take place between members of a species or form the basis for symbiotic lifestyles. Plants thus use the colours of their flowers and leaves to communicate directly with insects and animals that are attracted by the particular shades and combinations they display, in order to ensure pollination and the dissemination of their seeds. In addition to the use of colour to attract or deter – a frequently observed process in flora and fauna – nature also understands the principle of camouflage, that is, deception and illusion. The process by which chameleons can change their body colour to serve specific purposes is particularly striking (Fig. 9, 10). However, the greatest degree of change occurs not in matching the body colour to the background but rather in communication among a species. A chameleon is able to send complex messages to other chameleons by changing its body colour. The colour codes are used to convey 14
intended actions such as combat readiness, submission and interest in mating. In addition, responses to received messages are sent, as can be observed when a chameleon changes its skin colour indicating whether a request to mate has been successful or not. The exchange of messages takes place over very short intervals so as not to attract the attention of enemies. Due to the brevity of these intervals, the messages are often not recognised by other species as such, which is why these communication skills were only recently discovered . This example demonstrates the function of colour in biology. People use its communicative potential in all artistic, sculptural and spatial cultural techniques in order to design information. Architecture and design form part of visual communication, be it in the retrospective interpretation of cultural studies or the design of the present and future. Colour language as a conveyor of culture The cultural evolution process of colour perception and colour language is reflected in the aesthetics  and function of media and technologies. Images, objects, built spaces and performances, as well as the technological developments of the information, learning, planning, navigation and communication systems of modern societies, illustrate the qualitative leap in performance in the processing of colour codes in the brain. The aesthetics of the socio-culturally designed environment does not serve to create an abstract idea of beauty but rather to communicate thoughts, feelings and action options. The colour mutations seen in nature reveal a creative principle, as living organisms of every kind use changed colour codes to tap into previously unknown communication partners, means of distribution and habitats.
An innovative colour design opens up new applications and promotes the development of aesthetics and visual perception. The variety of colours in a flowering meadow demonstrates both the rules and the variation possible within colour codes. Hence, not only the expedient, but also the experimental is aesthetic in visual culture, insofar as the unintelligible colour codes address the viewers and challenge them to develop mentally, emotionally or practically . The appearance of residential areas, buildings and infrastructure reflects the function of society in a clear way, thus making a significant contribution to the cultural evolution of the human species. In terms of visual perception, cultural space functions as a form of “vivid memory storage” , whose formal structures and meaning content safeguard the transfer of knowledge between the generations. The mediating function of verbal language forms the basis for the rules of social coexistence inferred from the use of buildings, streets and squares, whose functions can be read in a clear way. Illustrative learning forms the basis for the archaeological reconstruction of society; for understanding the present and for planning the future. Urban spaces are inexhaustible learning spaces. The cultivation of the language of colour through the colour codes used in clothing, products, interiors, buildings and cities creates identity and provides guidance in an increasingly complex world.
9 Camouflage and integration as part of the chameleon’s colour language. 10 Deterrence and attraction as part of the chameleon’s colour language. 11 Colour as a conveyor of regional identity, Fujian Province, China. 12 Colour as a conveyor of global identity: the Shanghai skyline with a view from the Bund waterfront of the Huang Pu River to Pudong, the financial centre on the western riverbank.
The function of colour
The age, gender, cultural affiliation and socialisation of people, as well as the era, district formation and regional variations in appearance of places can be read through the conventional use of colour codes (Fig. 11, 12). With the development of visual orientation skills people also acquire fundamental knowledge of the colour language specific to their cultural space. From that point on, they interpret and use this language in the same way as their “mother tongue”. While those who live in cities recognise and use culturally specific urban colour codes that are selfevident to them, the diverse colour codes in rural regions seem like a foreign language to them. The first stay at the seaside, in the mountains or in the desert allows the urban resident a completely new perception of the phenomenon of colour, but offers little by way of orientation. For local residents, the colours and their changes signify meanings that indicate, among other things, underwater currents, impassable paths, edible fruit, sudden temperature changes and severe weather. The various colour codes of landscapes and residential areas condense to form site-specific atmospheres and generate an intuitive perceivable colour space that shapes the image of a colour home . The most reduced form of this identification is reflected in the colour codes of national flags, clubs and folkloric elements in architecture, design and craftsmanship . The most extensive form in terms of space is determined through atmospheres defined by geography and climate, the colours of flora and fauna, and a region’s built, deformed and depicted natural materials . The legibility and interpretation of content and function are complicated, distorted or
The function of colour
13 When seen from a distance, the macrostructure of the colour makes Lavaux Vinorama look like a monolith with an ornamental surface. Lavaux Vinorama Wine Museum, Rivaz (CH) 2010, Fournier-Maccagnan.
prevented if the colour scheme focuses solely on formal effects. The natural colour of the raw materials, along with the colours of coatings and claddings, indicate the substance of the material, the manufacturing process and the intended use. The aesthetics of a colour scheme is, therefore, primarily used to designate the content and purpose of an object, as well as to create identity and representation. Nowhere are the effects of globalisation seen as clearly as in the colours of cultural spaces, where regional identity has given way to a unifying language of colour associated with social change. Colour and content form a unit; the transformation of the appearance of cultural spaces is not a new phenomenon. Even today, the extent of past empires can be detected in the uniformity of colour and shape language that was put in place and used to indicate the extent of the empire’s sphere of influence.
Pigments and building materials also indicate technological achievements, religious and secular systems of symbols, customs, traditions and trade routes. The question of whether the loss of colour languages of entire regions is an inevitable price of social change, like the reduction of biodiversity, is beyond the scope of this text. When it is appropriate to preserve cultural heritage and maintain a region’s appearance or where space can be opened up for new ideas is an issue that can only be resolved by means of social discourse. This needs to be conducted in a new way . Colour – music – aesthetics From antiquity to the present, the similarities between music and aesthetics have stimulated a tremendously productive form of discourse, ranging from the classification system of harmony  to the multimedia experience of time-based
media . Tones, sounds, rhythms, overtones, beats, transparencies, dissonances and harmonies can be heard through the medium of sound and rendered visible through the medium of colour. The organising principles discussed here are explored in science, music and fine art. In principle, any phenomenon can be investigated in terms of its formal qualities, while the contextual relationships remain hidden, thus shifting the structural elements to the foreground of perception. In the process of visual perception, the formal linking of all elements to each other and to the whole takes place via the colour structures of light, material and atmosphere. The aesthetics of architecture is determined by the arrangement and construction of spaces and forms, the rhythm of the openings and the surface structures of the material. Visual perception of architecture is based on movement of people in spaces; less on ongoing touch than on the continuous changing of surface colours and atmospheres. When viewers can perceive something clearly, the object has an impact and becomes something that can be experienced and used. Everything else remains an ineffectual intention on the part of the author. Architecture becomes static via the building material, whose immobile and heavy weight can therefore be described and designed using a system of lines. Plans, drawings and photographs of buildings and objects represent momentary excerpts of continuous action, in which dynamically changing perspectives unfold for the viewer through changes in angle and atmosphere in time and space. The tension between order and momentum has led to architecture being perceived as “frozen music” and described as such for more than 200 years .
The function of colour
14 The microstructure produces an unmistakable pattern consisting of transparent and opaque areas that can only be perceived at close range. Lavaux Vinorama Wine Museum, Rivaz (CH) 2010, Fournier-Maccagnan. 15 When viewed from inside Lavaux Vinorama the surrounding landscape appears pixelated.
surface structures by colour compositions and combinations that seem harmonious. The biological reason for this intuitive assessment stems from the evolutionary adaptation of the visual perceptual system to the appearance of the environment, whose micro and macrostructures have both formal and content-related contexts. The microstructure of nature can be equated to the sound vibrations of a string and comprises a basic tone and multiple overtones, whose relationships are reflected in the macrostructure. Mineral pigments are composed of mixtures of complementary coloured crystals that are barely visible to the naked eye. Nevertheless, a unique depth of colour and brilliance can be perceived, as the countless crystals are penetrated by light, thus making the surface structure shine from within following multiple reflections . In addition to their particle composition, the colour surfaces of natural materials
The biological cause of the productive interactions between music and aesthetics can be attributed to the way that the perceptual systems involved work. The ear’s sensory cells are stimulated by the auditory perception of sound events into sense-specific vibration patterns whose shape properties are interpreted by the brain. The same applies to the photoreceptor cells in the retina, which are stimulated in the process of visual perception to constantly produce new patterns of activity. Colour composition is generated by the dynamic between eye movements over time and the rhythm of colour structures. Even if the environmental situation remains unchanged over time, viewers select shades in the field of view and combine them into new entities through patterns of eye movement. Viewers can follow the designer’s colour composition provided that they recognise it or are able to make their own interpretations of the formal structure. The aesthetic experience of the environment is determined by the searching movements of the body and eyes in architectural space, of the paintbrush on a surface, of the chisel on stone, and of the camera used to film or take a picture. Without the structuring of the colours in the field of view and without the creation of soft and hard transitions, rhythms and intonations, viewers would perceive a single uninterrupted and undifferentiated shade. As a result, there would be no place for the eye to rest and no stimulation for the body. The minimalist aesthetic of an unstructured colour used throughout a room can be likened to a continuous tone in music.
have characteristic surface structures, whose diverse nuances determine how they are perceived. This harmonious unity in diversity causes an inner connection between the whole and its details that continues up to the macro level. Looking across a desert demonstrates the inner harmony  between the coloured detailed effects of the grains of sand, their wave structure and the whole landscape of wind-shaped dunes. The macrostructure of the colour is formed by the inherently harmonious arrangement of its components, creating an overall composition that can be understood in itself. Each shade produces proportional relationships to the same, similar or contrasting areas in the field of view, from which rhythmic structures, prominent figures or new formal entities are formed. Internal consistency cannot be reduced to the formal aesthetic level of the
The micro and macrostructure of colour
The aesthetics of the natural environment is determined at the macro level of the field of view and at the micro level of the
The function of colour
appearance of a colour, but instead includes the content-related context. If the aesthetics of the appearance does not refer to the content, this will result in misperceptions that can animate the viewer towards creative achievements or senseless acts, depending on the context. The study of nature leads to the biological principles of colour perception, but this does not mean that these rules are equally applicable to the design of cultural space. It is therefore more important that planners deal during the design process with all levels of colour effects in terms of both the details and the overall impact, and that they develop a design position that produces aesthetic quality by means of variety and internal consistency. For discerning graphic designers, it is self-evident that their work does not end with image editing, but also includes the choice between thousands of types of paper  and a wide variety of printing techniques, as well as the finished printed product. By adjusting the microstructure of the paper, the appearance of printed colours can be changed significantly and may affect the emphasis of the content. In product and spatial design in architecture, interior design and design, the search for innovative materials and manufacturing techniques is becoming increasingly important . Each particle is equally an effective static material and an aesthetically effective colour pigment. Once a particle of the microstructure is visible on the surface, it becomes an “ambassador of light”, and provides the viewer with information that modifies the content-related and emotional effects of the macrostructure (Fig. 13 –15, p. 16f.). Colour as a design tool Parallel to the development of Modernism, the professional design field divided into a planning/conceptual and a manual/ 18
implementation parts. For many reasons, this separation was problematic. As a result, only a few architects and designers can now base their design work on their own technical experience, which is essential for the visual design of material culture. However, colour only becomes a modern design tool if designers have extensive theoretical knowledge that they can apply in the context of their own practical experience. While it was possible to base Bauhaus training in the field of colour  on practical skills and theoretical knowledge, the Ulm School of Design shifted the focus of design training to scientific, technological and methodological strategies . The newly created specialisation in visual design included film, photography, graphic design and typography and was subsequently extended in the degree in visual communication to include product design, architecture, urban planning and art. As a medium of visual design, colour, as well as shape and writing, formed an integral part of visual communication. This semiotics-based field of knowledge has so far only become established in the visual design of image media, benefiting numerous practical applications. Professional image producers in the fields of graphics, illustration, printing, internet and film are familiar with the formal and content-related effects of colours. They are able to use these effects on the basis of practical and application knowledge in a targeted and efficient way to convey messages. Degrees in subjects such as communication design and information design still offer untapped opportunities for a holistic exploration of visual design and communication in images, sculpture, performance and space . In architecture and urban design, technical training became an academic subject, and as a result, the curriculum is based on engineering subjects. Conse-
quently, the communicative aspects of built space recede into the background. This is the reason why colour cannot be used strategically as a design tool for the visual communication of content and functional meanings. Colour’s complex communicative effects must be taken into account in the same way as the technological effects throughout the design, planning and implementation process. To this end, colour must first and foremost undergo a holistic perception of its function as an element that shapes lines, areas, objects and spaces; as a communication medium that triggers emotions; as an orientation system that forms identity; as a visual and tangible surface quality; and as an atmospheric light quality. An exploration of colour from a communication studies, cultural-historical, natural scientific, technological, aesthetic and practical point of view should therefore be undertaken in all educational institutions involved with the trades, technology, design, art and architecture. No one can avoid interacting with colour, as Paul Watzlawick’s axiom can also be applied to the medium of visual design and communication: one cannot not design in colour . Notes:  Phaenomenon in Latin, meaning “appearance” or “manifestation”; phainein in Greek, meaning “to show” or “to make manifest”. Kluge, Friedrich: Etymologisches Wörterbuch der Deutschen Sprache. Berlin, keyword, phaenomenon.  Winkler, Jochen: Titandioxid. Hanover 2003.  Research on how bees perceive colour: Neumeyer, Christa; Dyer, A. G.: “Simultaneous and successive colour discrimination in the honeybee (Apis mellifera)”, in Journal of Comparative Physiology A, June 2005, vol. 191, issue 6, pp. 547– 557. Other publications are available from the Institute of Zoology, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, http://www.bio.uni-mainz.de/zoo/abt3/ 102.php. Retrieved on 18 July 2013.  There is extensive evidence of how colour interacts with the perception of smell and taste, but no definitive study on the topic. The following therefore lists a small selection of relevant works: Gottfried, Jay A.; Dolan, Raymond J.: “The nose
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16 Substituting the function of traditional architectural colour with orientation and guidance systems, Otl Aicher’s visual communication concept for the look of the XX. Olympic Games Munich 1972.
smells what the eye sees: crossmodal visual facilitation of human olfactory perception”, in Neuron, vol. 39, July 17, 2003, pp. 375 – 386. Piqueras-Fiszman, Betina; Spence, Charles: “The Influence of the Color of the Cup on Consumers’ Perception of a Hot Beverage”, in Journal of Sensory Studies, vol. 27, issue 5, October 2012, pp. 324 – 331. Watson, Robert T.: Global Biodiversity Assessment. Summary for Policy-Makers. Cambridge 2011. Häberle, Christoph Johannes: Farben in Europa. Zur Entwicklung individueller und kollektiver Farbpräferenzen, dissertation, University of Wuppertal 1999, download publication at http: // elpub.bib.uni-wuppertal.de /edocs/dokumente/ fb05/diss1999/haeberle/. Retrieved on 17 July 2013. For further information, see the comparison of the spatial perception abilities of blind and sighted people in Buether, Axel: Die Bildung der räumlich-visuellen Kompetenz. Neurobiologische Grundlagen für die methodische Förderung der anschaulichen Wahrnehmung, Vorstellung und Darstellung im Gestaltungs- und Kommunikationsprozess, monograph series by Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design, no. 23 Halle 2010, pp. 183 – 230. Further reading on the topic of visual illusions: Nänni, Jürg: Visuelle Wahrnehmung. Sulgen / Zurich 2008. Roth, Gerhard: Fühlen, Denken, Handeln. Wie das Gehirn unser Verhalten steuert. Frankfurt 2003, p. 94ff. Roth, Gerhard: Aus Sicht des Gehirns. Frankfurt 2003, p. 87ff. Mühlendyck, Hermann; Rüssmann, Walter: Augenbewegung und visuelle Wahrnehmung. Stuttgart 1990. Breidbach, Olaf; Klinger, Kerrin; Müller, Matthias: Camera Obscura. Die Dunkelkammer in ihrer historischen Entwicklung. Stuttgart 2013. Damasio, Antonio R.: Descartes’ Irrtum. Fühlen, Denken und das menschliche Gehirn. Munich 1997 (3rd edition). Journals frequently give different figures for the number of photoreceptor cells in the human retina. These differences stem from increasingly accurate measuring methods. The information on this topic used here is therefore based on the current publication, http://www.retinascience. de/krank_kell/anatomie_physiologie.html, supervised by Professor Ulrich Kellner, Centre for Rare Retinal Diseases at Siegburg Eye Centre. Retrieved on 18 July 2013. Also referred to in a simpler form as RGB mode, that is, additive colour mixing on a monitor. For information about brain activity, see Gegenfurtner, Karl R.: Gehirn und Wahrnehmung. Eine Einführung. Frankfurt 2005. Nänni, Jürg: Visuelle Wahrnehmung. Sulgen / Zürich 2008. Hansen, Thorsten et al.: “Memory modulates color appearance”, in Nature Neuroscience, vol. 9, no. 11, November 2006, pp. 1367–1368.
    
  
  
  
In a field trial, subjects were asked to change the image of a banana on the screen to a neutral shade of grey. The majority of the results showed colour shifts that went well into the complementary blue range. In contrast, an image in grey tones appeared yellowish. For further information about the visual cortex, see note 7 and Karl R. Gegenfurtner & Lindsay T. Sharpe: Color Vision. Cambridge 1999. Stuart-Fox, Devi; Moussalli, Adnan (2008): Selection for Social Signalling Drives the Evolution of Chameleon Colour Change. http://www. plosbiology.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal. pbio.0060025. Retrieved on 17 July 2013. Aisthetikos in Greek, meaning “what can be perceived”, as in note 1. Only developed much later, after 1735, by Alexander Gottlieb Baumgarten as a parallel science to logic for the study of the laws of beauty. Originally published in 1750, Baumgarten’s Aesthetica remained in print until 1958. Buether, Axel: Wege zur kreativen Gestaltung. Methoden und Übungen. Leipzig 2013. Weidenmann, Bernd: Handbuch Kreativität. Stuttgart 2010. As in note 7. As in note 6. Schawelka, Karl: Farbe. Warum wir sie sehen, wie wir sie sehen. Weimar 2007. As in note 6. See “Colour in the city – colour in the countryside”. p. 61ff., “Colour in 20th century architecture”, p. 71ff. and “Colour in 1970s architecture in Berlin und Zurich”, p. 81ff. Schwarz, Andreas: Die Lehren von der Farbenharmonie. Göttingen /Zurich 1999. Time-based media include film, television, interaction design, 2D and 3D animation. First mentioned by Friedrich Schlegel in 1803, also explored by Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling, Arthur Schopenhauer and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe; further reading: Pascha, Khaled Saleh: Gefrorene Musik. Das Verhältnis von Architektur und Musik in der ästhetischen Theorie, dissertation. Berlin 2004. Muntwyler, Stefan: Farbpigmente, Farbstoffe, Farbgeschichten. Winterthur 2011. Harmony: congruence, melodiousness, acquiescence, as in note. 1, p. 393. The Paperworld 2014 trade fair in Frankfurt will have 2,967 exhibitors and provide further information on this topic. See “Materiality and Technology”, p. 21ff. Düchting, Hajo: Farbe am Bauhaus. Synthese und Synästhesie. Berlin 1996. Seeling, Hartmut: Geschichte der Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm 1953 –1968. Ein Beitrag zur Entwicklung ihres Programms und der Arbeiten im Bereich der Visuellen Kommunikation, dissertation. Cologne 1985. Further reading: as in note 7. Based on Paul Watzlawick’s axiom, “One Cannot Not Communicate”. In Watzlawick, Paul; Beavin, Janet H.; Jackson, Don D.: Menschliche Kommunikation. Bern 1969, p. 53.
Materiality and technology Andreas Kalweit
We perceive the environment, and in particular the objects that surround us, with the senses given to us by nature, such as touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight. Architects, planners and designers have long made use of the wideranging facets of perception and the design options associated with them. They seduce people every day with their ideas – sometimes to a greater, sometimes to a lesser extent – and now influence all areas of everyday life. However, the consumer is sometimes disappointed when, for example, objects and products do not deliver what they promise and break prematurely, look unpleasant after a short time, or simply turn out to be impractical. Such shortcomings are either caused by a lack of technical expertise when putting ideas into practice or are deliberately brought about by the manufacturers through planned obsolescence. Wear and tear caused by use is certainly irritating when flaking chrome reveals the plastic underneath, when clothes lose their colour after the first wash, or when plastic surfaces become scratched or look dirty or used – that is, when they lose their sheen. However, in many objects, for example, jeans, some wooden furniture, aluminium cases or weathering steel facades (Fig. 1), traces of use or ageing are accepted or even desired at an early stage in the product’s service life. Such products have been subsumed in recent years under the term “vintage design”, and this gives the items their individual touch. Some types of sneakers, for example, only develop their patina over the course of time through individual wear, partial abrasion and the exposure of the layers of colour underneath. Accordingly, if an object is to look good for a long time, many aspects need to
be taken into account. For this reason, the focus of this article will be on the properties inherent in objects, particularly their colours and surfaces. Colour is everywhere We perceive the colourfulness of objects when they emit or reflect light. Every object and material has different abilities to reflect and absorb light to a greater or lesser degree, and manifests itself in a specific colour and appearance. As such, viewers encounter colour – whether chromatic or achromatic – almost everywhere! While human beings cannot perceive 16.7 million colours, as monitor manufacturers suggest, they are able to differentiate between a few million colours in terms of intensity, brightness and colourfulness, depending on the light conditions. Colours can of course be measured and compared objectively under certain unvarying conditions. However, the subjective perception of colour and individual ambient conditions make this comparability more difficult and make designers’ work even more challenging. Architects, designers and artists not only perceive colour, but also use it as a medium to design the environment. They paint walls, dye fabrics, varnish furniture, coat table tops, lay carpets, tile floors, light up rooms and stick on decorative elements. They give objects their outward appearance using a large variety of techniques. The aesthetic meaning of colours is reflected, among others things, in the vast diversity of objects and products that surround people in their everyday lives. This meaning has been constantly changing since time immemorial. Colour certainly has to fulfil many expectations and functions. By choosing specific colours, psychological effects can
Rusting facade made of weathering steel, building in Gorredijk (NL) 2008, Sluijmer en van Leeuwen.
Materiality and technology
influence our perception and make us aware of safety issues. For example, signalising colours can be used when designing warning signs in hazardous areas. This is effective because people learn that such colours mean they should pay attention. In addition to these optical functions, however, colours should also possess other properties. For instance, they should be durable, abrasion-resistant or UV-stable. And with respect to their practical use, factors such as spreadability, environmental friendliness or water solubility also matter. As such, the aim here is not to look primarily at colour itself or at design using colour, but rather to examine how colourfulness can be generated, influenced and altered by materials and processing methods. Colourfulness – or to put it in somewhat broader terms, surface appearance – highlights other properties of an object, as demonstrated in the following three examples. A look inside today’s cars will reveal the high art of designers and engineers and the latest technology. Automotive designers do not only signal the high quality of their products through an appropriate outward appearance, but also via special smells, as well as the haptic and tonal properties of the materials used. In doing so, their aim is to make the strongest psychological impression possible. After all, the quality of a handle or lever in the interior cladding of a door is experienced by the feeling of appropriate coatings. The velvety, champagnecoloured coating of plastic handle surfaces must meet especially high expectations, and many a soft-touch surface has flaked off because of sweaty palms and frequent use, to the detriment of the high-quality image. 22
When we are in the bathroom, the way we feel is also significantly influenced by our haptic experience, as it is our skin that comes into contact with the ceramics, handles and handrails. Materials that look pleasant and feel hygienic, such as ceramics, but also natural materials and chromed objects, are used in bathrooms. When we reach out to touch the chromeplated rail in the bath tub and it is plastic underneath, this can be confusing because the warmth in our hand transfers very quickly to it – something that does not happen with metal – and we immediately identify it as a “plastic rail”. We instinctively feel a sense of discomfort caused by our feeling of doubt as to whether such a rail will last for any great length of time. In the event that a material cannot deliver all of the properties desired, different materials with special properties can be combined with one another to create compound materials. Resin-bound minerals, for example, offer a wide range of design options in areas where aesthetics need to be combined with hygiene requirements or heat and impact resistance, such as laboratories, hospitals, sanitary facilities and areas where food is prepared and served. This material can be dyed, cast individually and used as panelling material without a need for joints. Depending on the manufacturer, a very wide range of colours is available, and because of its mineral content and the fact that the colour penetrates all the way through – in a similar way to natural stone – such material is of high quality and looks authentic. Moreover, scratches or places where pieces have broken off can easily be repaired, meaning that the material is well suited for use in durable and hard-wearing items. Depending on the colour tone, it can even develop a patina (Fig. 3).
In order to provide a clear overview of the wide range of materials and technologies used in the field of colour design, it is worth looking beyond architecture to industrial design. Planners and architects have at their disposal a practically unlimited variety of materials and manufacturing options that can be used for buildings, their interiors, and their fixtures and fittings. Established pioneers in architecture such as Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Norman Foster not only surprised us with their buildings, but also provided ideas and designs for furniture, lighting and fittings. This interdisciplinary way of thinking opens up potential to use technologies from other areas in architecture. The best example is the use of highperformance textiles in architecture or the latest developments that make it possible to “print” inhabitable buildings using generative processing methods. For this reason, the following sections will not only look at examples from architecture, but also from industrial design, particularly as regards what is possible in terms of colouring. Colour as material Materials have their own colour! Neither surface nor solid materials can be thought of without also thinking of colour. But what is the difference between surface and solid materials for planners and designers? Is solid material more valuable than a surface coating? In general, it makes sense to apply coatings when, for functional reasons (such as aesthetics, weight or durability), properties other than those inherent in the material of the object are desired or required. If we look at the pure value of materials, then a thin layer of gold is obviously nowhere near as valuable as solid gold, but it is still more valuable than a coating of gold paint. When we look at a
Materiality and technology
golden object, it is easy enough to see when it is only painted gold. However, only an expert can usually tell whether an object is made of solid gold or merely gold-plated. A visible imitation of a material is generally regarded as less valuable than the real material. There are many examples in the history of design where forms, patterns or materials have been reproduced in the design of objects in order to make new technologies more readily acceptable. The fact that the first automobiles looked like post coaches and machine tools looked like living room cabinets are the best examples of this. It was not until later that independent languages of form developed. Even today, we still see this use of familiar or traditional design features in the development of new technologies, for example in the desktop metaphor on computer screens. The development of high-grade “designer floor coverings”, which reproduce a variety of surfaces such as wood, marble and granite to a very high quality, is currently of interest. These products can no longer be compared to conventional PVC or laminate flooring and now enjoy a high degree of acceptance. While imitations generally used to have a stigma attached to them, such reservations often had to do with aesthetic properties. In times of resource shortages and environmental problems, we are no longer concerned first and foremost with aesthetic quality, but rather with a wider set of criteria, when deciding to what extent we accept objects and products. An object’s “ecological footprint” and our awareness of environmental issues are playing an increasingly important role in determining its value. And so our decisions today are not only about the material itself, but also about to what extent and at what cost we can use and dispose of it. This shows that there is no longer a clear answer to the question
posed at the start of this section – surface or solid material? – and that this is not relevant to an object’s use. It is far more important for planners and designers to have comprehensive knowledge about a wide range of materials and processing techniques. These will be outlined in the following section. In terms of material technology, materials can be coloured directly or indirectly using chemical reactions. Unlike the direct colouring process, the colours in the indirect process do not develop until colouring substances have been applied. German standard DIN 55 944 divides colorants into dyes and pigments. Both natural and synthetic dyes are generally soluble colorants, unlike pigments, which consist of insoluble colour particles of up to a few micrometres or nanometres in size. The spectrum of pigments ranges from black, white and a wide selection of colours to pigments with special effects, such as metallic and luminous characteristics. As a rule, fabrics, paper and leather materials are coloured using dyes because, thanks to their solubility, these penetrate the surface structures and then dry. By comparison, when colouring plastics and varnishes, pigments are mainly used because both the varnishes and the plastics act as binding agents and are thus cheaper and more light-resistant. Metals, such as aluminium, can be produced in different colours using electrolytes or absorption in such a way that a highly durable surface is created. A wide range of colorants and colour pigments is available. These are suitable for the various materials and possible applications. Colour variance options depend directly on the processing and on the materials themselves.
Materials with a colour coating As described above, colour coatings make sense when a material does not meet aesthetic or functional requirements. Their unbeatable strength lies in the many different coating options and applications available, which include elastic varnishes for coating rubber elastic plastics (Fig. 4 and 5), abrasionresistant HPL coatings in a variety of colours for furniture surfaces, and water and dirt-repellent surfaces featuring special nano coatings. Damaged surfaces, by comparison, can very quickly make a material appear to be of low quality, especially when instead of metal, a cheap-looking plastic becomes visible beneath a chrome surface. A triedand-tested means here can be to match the colour of the underlying material to the surface in order to try to conceal any scratches that might occur. Coating using varnishes and paints
The large number of varnishes and paints available have very different names, which may refer to their use (painters’ and artists’ paints, facade paints, floor varnish), their composition (synthetic resin varnishes, nitrocellulose lacquer, bitumen varnish and polyester resin varnish) or the method used (dip paint or baked enamel paint). The properties of paints and varnishes, such as workability, surface structure formation, durability and colour fastness can be influenced by their composition. It is far beyond the
Colour is everywhere: the Schönhauserstraße pumping station on the Rhine, Cologne (D) 2008, Kaspar Kraemer Architekten. Coloured acrylic-bound mineral material can be used in a wide range of ways in both the commercial and residential sectors. Special-effect coatings for ski goggles are extremely resistant. Chair made of foam coated with rubber elastic paint.
Materiality and technology
scope of this paper to provide an overview of all types of paints and varnishes, but some of them will be presented below in order to give an insight into how varied they are. Distemper Distempers are among the oldest types of paint. They are environmentally friendly and have a positive effect on the indoor climate, especially when combined with adobe walls. Distempers react sensitively to the effects of dampness and are therefore not suitable for outdoor use. However, they can be used in bathrooms or kitchens because they absorb water vapour, which they then release again after some time. Distempers can easily be painted over several times, are odourless, have a low impact on the environment and are inexpensive. Furthermore, they can be used easily and without any restrictions on all mineral surfaces, paper, wallpaper and wood in interiors and can be mixed to create many different colours. Because new layers are easy to remove, distempers are especially useful for stucco. Lime washes Lime washes are a type of mineral paint that is not very good at binding pigments. As a result, only pastel shades can be mixed. Lime washes are difficult to apply and generally require several coats, making them relatively expensive to use. They are suitable for low stress applications on plaster, concrete and fibre cement primarily for interior use. Their alkaline structure means that they are fungicidal. Lime paints are highly recommendable in terms of their low impact on the environment. They are not harmful to health and display an extraordinary luminosity. Silicate paints Silicate paints consist of binding agents, colour pigments, fillers and water, and 24
are also a type of mineral paint. They do not create a colour coating, but instead only react with mineral substrates. This means that they can only be used on such surfaces. As they are durable and weather-resistant, they are mostly used on facades. Silicate paints are difficult to use and are relatively expensive. Acrylic paints Acrylic paints come in both solventbased and water-based varieties. The latter are considerably more environmentally friendly and low-odour than their solvent-based counterparts. They are very often used in the manual trades and in industry because they are easy to apply and are suitable for wooden, plastic and metal surfaces. They are available in specialist shops as finished products or as customisable mixes in a very wide range of shades. Synthetic resin emulsion paints Synthetic resin emulsion paints offer a wide range of design options, are environmentally friendly, and are often used to paint walls. As a result, they are among the most commonly used paints and varnishes. Water-bound resins are generally used as a bonding agent. In recent years, DIY shops in particular have offered a customer-oriented service where synthetic resin emulsion paints can be mixed individually to provide an extensive choice of graduated nuances. Glazes Glazes are very thin and can penetrate porous surface structures particularly well, thus making them ideal for waterproofing and surface protection. Glazed wooden surfaces retain their natural character due to their porosity. Because of their low pigmentation, glazes form a transparent or semi-transparent layer and allow the substrate to shine through
with greater or lesser intensity. Watersoluble glazes are mainly used for interior applications. Silicone resin paints and varnishes Silicone resin paints and varnishes (Fig. 6) are coatings based on a combination of two bonding agents – polymer dispersion and silicone resin emulsion. Building coatings based on silicone resin are known for their high water vapour permeability combined with low water absorption. They are ideally suited for mineral substrates, especially for exterior facades that are exposed to severe weather conditions. Depending on their composition, these paints can be moisture-permeable when they have a high silicate concentration and/or be extremely resistant but have lower vapour permeability when they have a high concentration of synthetic resin. Unlike silicone resin paints, silicone resin varnishes are mainly bonded using silicone resins and are suitable for use as coatings on stoves and domestic ovens because of their heat-resistant and weather-resistant properties. Polyurethane resins These high-grade catalysed lacquers, which are also known as DD lacquers, are available both as two-component lacquers containing solvent and as single-component water-soluble lacquers. They are particularly suited for use on metal, concrete or wood surfaces that are subject to a lot of wear, such as floors or the hull of a boat. Due to their low vapour permeability they can only be used in a very limited way on mineral substrates. Powder coatings Powder coatings are bonded with thermoplastics or duroplastics. There are very different techniques for applying
Materiality and technology
the coloured powder and for bonding it permanently to the substrate by fusing it or letting it harden. In a previous step, the powder is processed specially with a view to the optical and mechanical requirements (Fig. 7). The choice of pigments depends on the requirements of the processing method, but also on how expensive and timeconsuming it is to produce the powder. This means that its use might be limited for financial reasons. Powder coatings are very durable and are used in furniture, bicycle frames, household appliances and facade cladding. Applying varnishes and paints
There are many different methods for applying the wide range of varnishes and paints. Rollers and brushes Varnishes and paints can be applied to a surface using a paintbrush or a roller. This is usually done manually. Special additives and solvents have a significant impact on the application properties and make it possible to apply the paint evenly, without dripping while working overhead, or with a lower risk of sagging or running. Plastering Thick, pasty paint or plaster can be applied using a trowel or a spray. Particularly absorbent substrates should be moistened beforehand so that the plaster adheres well and does not set too quickly. Spray painting In addition to the paintbrush and roller methods mentioned above, spraying is one of the most common coating methods for flat and even surfaces, and
a very effective one. When working with small, complex components with a large number of openings, only a small percentage of the paint remains on the surface during conventional spraying, and paint loss (overspray) can be up to 90 per cent. When working with electrically conductive surfaces, this effect can be reduced by charging the component and the paint electrostatically, thus reducing paint loss to as little as 15 per cent. Electrostatic spray painting The principle of electrostatic painting is not only suited to spray painting, e.g. for bicycle frames, wheel rims and casings, but also for dip coating (Fig. 8). This method is also used on car bodies and ensures that the coating adheres well in areas that are difficult to reach. Baked and powder coatings Once they have been applied, special varnishes can also be baked on using a thermal treatment to make them more resilient. Particularly hard-wearing and resistant coatings can be achieved using the powder-coating method (Fig. 9). In this method, powder coatings containing plastic duroplastic or thermoplastic bonding agents are applied so that the coating hardens due to a chemical reaction or when it cools after being fused. Fluidised bed coating Using a similar principle, fluidised bed coating involves heating components above the melting point of the thermoplastic powder coating and placing them in a sealed chamber with a cloud of plastic powder. The powder fuses with the surface of the component, thus forming a solid plastic coating. Wire baskets in dishwashers or wire fences are among the products coated in this way.
Enamelling The enamelling process makes it possible to produce extremely hard, scratchproof and weather-resistant coatings. Powdered glass is mixed with water and applied to a surface in multiple layers. It is then dried and fired at temperatures above 800 °C to form a vitreous enamel coating. Due to the high temperatures involved in the process, usually only metals with a higher melting point, such as those used in baths, pots and baking trays, are subjected to this process. Monochrome and uniform coatings can be applied using the methods described above. In order to produce decorative and artistic surfaces, methods such as screen printing, hydrographics or pad printing can be used. Screen printing A wide spatula (squeegee) is used in screen printing to push thick, pasty ink through a fine mesh onto the surface to be printed. Blank areas of the fabric are coated with an impermeable substance, thus making it possible to print very detailed patterns, fonts and gradients. The print resolution is determined by the mesh size of the fabric and is still lower than in offset printing. In general, screen printing can be used on all solid materials, such as drinks cans, advertising signs, traffic signs, product labels, clothing and glass facades.
Silicone resin paints are particularly well suited to facades in both old and new buildings. Because of their resistance to weathering, as well as to fungal and algae growth and their flaking impact, these paints protect the valuable building fabric. Colour-coated steel profiles, hotel at BerlinBrandenburg Airport (D) 2012, PETERSENARCHITEKTEN. Priming car bodies using electrostatic dip coating. Powder-coated MDF panels.
Materiality and technology
Hydrographics The hydrographic (water-transfer) printing process, by which three-dimensional surfaces can be printed with extremely detailed wood grain, carbon or design patterns, is absolutely fascinating. The process is astoundingly simple. An offset-printed, water-soluble transfer film is first placed on the surface of a vat of water. The film dissolves when an activating agent is sprayed on it so that the ink particles float on the surface of the water. The three-dimensional component is then gently immersed in the vat of water until the layer of ink wraps around it. Finally, the component is cleaned and the surface is fixed with a clear varnish. Pad printing Pad printing is one of the most important printing techniques for a wide variety of materials and applications. The printing is carried out by a soft silicone cushion (silicone pad) (Fig. 10), which can also transfer the absorbed colour to threedimensional surfaces. Traditional applications include the labels on electrical and household appliances and on sport equipment. Flocking A special tactile experience can be achieved by flocking (Fig. 11). Much as in powder coating, extremely fine fibres (e.g. polyamide fibres) are attached vertically to an adhesive-coated surface using electromagnetic fields. The length of the fibres determines the thickness of the velvety layer formed on the surface. The soft surface also has a sound-absorbing effect and is suitable for interior partition walls. Evaporation and deposition Depending on the application involved, very thin metal layers can be applied using the PVD and CVD processes. 26
Metal vapours are deposited on the surface using a vacuum or a chemical reaction. In addition to metallic or ceramic materials, plastics for lighting reflectors or casing components can be coated with electromagnetic shielding surfaces. In contrast to ink application processes used for inscriptions and patterns, the applied colour may be partially removed by means of laser technology so that the underlying colour or backlit material is revealed. This method is often used in automotive and consumer goods. Coating materials with coloured panels and foil In contrast to the seemingly unlimited variety of colours available for paints and inks, the range of colours for coating panels and foil is rather limited. Among other reasons, this is because these coating materials must be prefabricated in different formats and thicknesses in commercially viable quantities. As a result, the selection is confined to the more popular materials. Manufacturers offer a wide range of coating panels and foil made of different materials and with specific properties. The panels and foils are usually glued to the substrate. Furniture surfaces are often coated with resistant laminated plastic sheets (e.g. HPL, high pressure laminate) or decorative wood veneers, which are attached using adhesive. Extensive colour palettes are available for laminate sheets, as these products are widely used. Some of these palettes are based on common colour classification systems such as RAL, HKS, NCS and Pantone. In addition, numerous patterns and structures are available. Particularly in the field of composite materials, various materials can be combined with new materials in a range of ways.
For example, plywood cladd with metal foil (Fig. 13); plastic foil processed with aluminium sheets to produce multi-layer films for panels or displays; and panel materials with blades of grass, flowers, pebbles or printed textiles moulded into transparent plastic are available for decorative applications in interior design. Three-dimensional surfaces can also be coated. For example, printed films, which are malleable when heated, can be adhered smoothly to cars. There are even specially treated real wood veneers for furniture or curved wall panels that make multi-dimensional shaping possible. Using the in-mould decoration method, printed or specially textured plastic foils can be back-injected into an injection moulding machine. While these coating methods show the range of design options available, they are generally not very useful or economically viable. Dyed materials offer an alternative. Staining or dyeing materials The object consists of a material that has been dyed the same colour all over. Examples include coloured mediumdensity fibreboard (MDF) panels, plastics or mineral materials. The advantage of dyeing is that the materials can usually be processed as desired, without a need to coat the cut surfaces (with paint or edge veneering) afterwards. However, for economic reasons and depending on
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Pad printing on user interfaces. Flocked MDF panels. 3D veneer. Plywood with metallic profile cladding. Coloured, translucent polycarbonate panels, PGE Arena, Gdánsk (PL) 2011, RKW Rhode Kellermann Wawrowsky, in collaboration with RKW Polska and HPP Hentrich Petschnigg & Partner.
Materiality and technology
the manufacturer, commercially available dyed materials are only sold in a limited range of colours, as it is very expensive to provide a greater choice of colours. Not all materials can be dyed equally well, due to their specific properties. For example, PU foams are usually dyed black because of their lack of UV stability or are left in their natural colour and coated with colour materials such as paint. Depending on the material in question, dyeing involves very different methods. These will now be examined in greater detail. Dyeing plastics
Plastics are used in almost all areas of everyday life and, because of their versatility, are the preferred material for mass production. Injection moulding technologies facilitate the production of finished components in a single step and with extremely accurate surface reproduction.
Direct dyeing makes additional coating steps unnecessary. The most economical and useful method for colouring plastics is carried out by means of master batches (prefabricated, granulated, liquid or dry colour mixtures), which can also be used for small production volumes. New technologies offer the possibility of adding low-dose liquid colours to the molten plastic, thus making the colouring process significantly more effective and less expensive. Depending on the plastic, almost any shade and optical effect can be achieved. Different colour classification systems such as RAL, Pantone and NCS can be useful in determining the shades (see “Colour systems”, p. 33ff.). Plastics manufacturers often offer their own, finely graduated colour range. For economic reasons, it may make sense to use commercially available colour palettes.
Textiles can consist of both natural and synthetic fibres, and come in a wide variety of raw materials. When choosing a dye and dyeing method for synthetic fibres, the same applies as in the case of plastics. Undyed fabrics or textiles can be dyed in a range of ways depending on the fibre material and its use. Various dyeing procedures (vat, mordant, reactive, dispersion or direct dyeing) are available. The colour variance and intensity largely depends on the fibre material, the dyes and the dyeing process. This applies equally to paper. Textiles and paper are also ideally suited to a variety of printing and painting methods. They offer extensive design options, such as for wallpaper or fabric exhibition stand systems. Considerably fewer options are available for staining or dyeing metals, ceramics, glass or wood. Only a few colours are on offer due to the procedures involved. Dyeing metals
Metals cannot usually be dyed. However, they can be coated and made very resistant, while still maintaining their metallic appearance, unlike painted metal surfaces, which almost completely lose the special appearance of the metal. Aluminium, magnesium and titanium can be coated with coloured layers of oxide using anodisation. This method is known as the eloxal process (electrolytic oxidation of aluminium) in the case of aluminium (Fig. 16). Dyeing ceramics
Ceramic materials are usually coated with a colour before or after firing. The colour variance decreases in relation to the firing temperature required for the specific application. 27
Materiality and technology
Dyeing mineral materials
In contrast, mineral materials such as concrete or polymer-bound minerals or even timber products such as MDF panels can be dyed well. Dyeing materials is useful in cases where the need for expensive coatings can generally be avoided, where the material does not lose its visual appeal as a result of wear and tear or scratches, or where permanent coatings cannot be applied. Materials with special surface structures Surface structures significantly influence and change our impression of colour. Wet surfaces, such as mineral materials or damp fabric, demonstrate this vividly. Susanne Happle and Frederik Molenschot from the Netherlands put this to poetic effect by using specially coated concrete tiles on which ornamental patterns emerge when the tiles are wet (Fig. 18). Matt, durable surfaces are currently extremely popular. They are used on furniture, cars and ski helmets, and have
a soft, textile-like appearance (Fig. 19 a). Partially etched concrete looks particularly impressive. Its patterned surface not only looks velvety – it also feels like velvet (Fig. 19 b). When manufacturing plastic components, there are various creative ways to provide the surfaces with structures. Relief-like surfaces, such as leather grain or brush marks, are created directly in the injection mould by etching or laser structuring. A huge range of structures can thus be reproduced in large quantities. Coloured backlit or luminous materials The colour of translucent or transparent materials can be further modulated by light, either from the front or the back. Light boxes for advertising and display panels are particularly striking because of their brilliance. Thanks to modern printing techniques, backlit textiles in exhibition stands, decorative glazing in architecture and temperature and light-sensitive inks for print media and thermal advertisements have become very popular in recent years. The devel-
opment of new materials and manufacturing processes has resulted in extremely interesting, marketable innovations, such as luminous wallpaper, translucent glassfibre-reinforced concrete, and electrically conductive and modifiable paints. The overview presented above shows that colours cannot be applied with a uniform appearance on all materials. As a result, designers need to be familiar with the relationships between materials, how they are processed, and the influences during production. This expertise is a prerequisite for achieving a design in the required colour. Colour as a process – customisation in mass production Recent years have seen the increasing prevalence of new manufacturing technologies that allow individual designs in series and mass production. These technologies, which are subsumed under the term “mass customisation”, also provide completely new opportunities for colouring. Additive manufacturing processes are among the best-known technologies.
Materiality and technology
In contrast to manufacturing processes such as injection-moulding or die-casting processes in which an expensive tool must be produced for each component, additive processes are based exclusively on three-dimensional data, which construct components immediately, without tools, in layers and very precisely. The potential of additive manufacturing processes lies in their ability to economically produce smaller quantities of components with more complex geometric forms; to implement individualisation in series production; and in the case of special processes, such as selective laser sintering, to reduce the amount of material used during production, as no waste material is generated and any surplus material can be fed directly back into the production process. A few years ago, these rapid prototyping technologies were only familiar to a small group of users, but this is now changing fast. In the meantime, these industrial processes are being used for the individual production of implants, dental prostheses and jewellery. They are even becoming available to households thanks to relatively affordable 3D printers. The manufacturing of tailor-made products in both small and large quantities is not only a billion-dollar business, but also has the potential to fundamentally transform industrial production as we know it. On the one hand, consumers’ wishes can be more closely met, while on the other, anyone who owns a 3D printer can ‘produce’ products. Due to the relatively high amount of energy expended during production, however, additive processes are highly unlikely to replace conventional manufacturing methods in mass production. Apart from these additive processes, conventional methods such as digital printing and laser cutting are also suitable
for mass customisation. These developments are particularly interesting and challenging for professional designers. They also raise many questions. How can brands and manufacturers position themselves on the market when customers can co-design products? To what extent do designers still have an influence on products? Can these technologies help us to use resources sustainably? Answering these questions will influence future product development processes. The following describes some examples of the current use of mass customisation.
In the automotive industry, it has long been possible to configure cars with great versatility. In the meantime, a 19a sports goods manufacturer also offers individual design options on its website, allowing customers to create their own shoes in a variety of colours and designs. Different layers, colours and patterns can be combined and the shoes are produced according to the customer’s own preferences. Italian designer Sergio Perrero made an 19b interior based on used materials such as textiles or wood, creating exclusive and unique designs for a prestigious laminate manufacturer (Fig. 22).
15 Exposed concrete coloured with pigments, Bodega Antión, La Rioja (E) 2008, Jesús Marino Pascual y Asociados. 16 Coloured slatted facade of a renovated depart20 ment store, Duisburg (D) 2010, Sprenger von der Lippe Architekten. 17 Luminous films (organic LEDs or OLEDs). 18 Ornamental patterns appear on these concrete tiles when they are wet. 19 Surface effects of etching on concrete: a velvety surface b textile cloth-like surface 20 Structured facade at Neumarkt in Dresden (D) 2011, Heike Böttcher in association with Dähne Architekten. 21 Exposed concrete with a laurel pattern, sports hall, St. Gallen (CH) 2011, Lauener 21 Baer Architekten.
Materiality and technology
Many suppliers and manufacturers in the printing industry have also adjusted and refined their processes to facilitate the creation of customised products. While 2D printing methods are not new, the option to choose your own designs or to create them yourself is a recent development. Websites now allow customers to upload their own images, photographs or designs to print on small quantities of customised T-shirts, aprons, bags or cups. Consumers also have the option of customising their music players, mobile phones or other devices with stickers that they designed themselves. Via a website, they can select and modify a huge number of designs for many commercially available devices and create their own ideas using a simple and intuitive graphic tool. The formats are then adapted to the selected device and sent to the customer in attractive packaging. Some manufacturers and service providers specialise in the creation of wallpaper and wall decoration. They offer an extensive choice of large-format photographs and patterns. One manufacturer, for example, allows customers to upload their own designs. Using a “wallpaper calculator”, the arrangement of the patterns on the walls can be precisely gauged and tailored. The further development of the rapid prototyping process is leading to a growing market for suppliers or service providers offering 3D printing for prototypes, lampshades, medical applications, jewellery and various miniature gadgets. The range of “printable” materials, colours and manufacturing processes is constantly increasing. These applications are of economic interest 30
when they are more cost-effective than established methods in manufacturing new products. The 3D printing process, which is an additive method, uses an ink jet print head similar to that found in the common 2D printer. However, 3D printers use a special powder with a coloured bonding agent, which constructs 3D objects in layers. Using the slogan “3D Print Your World”, one manufacturer offers three-dimensional, colour maps (Fig. 24). The customer can choose the location and scale. 3D printing is of particular interest to urban planners, architects and museums, as models and prototypes can be produced rapidly and in high quality. The latest applications are attempting to go beyond building models and to apply additive processes to real buildings. The development of prototypes is now underway. In addition, many ideas for customising products manufactured in series are currently being developed. For example, a manufacturer of bricks and roof tiles allows clients to design their own bricks, and guides them from the initial idea to the finished brick (Fig. 25). The customer’s inspiration can be implemented semantically in the form and colour of an individual brick, thus giving the building a unique character. The degree of customisability varies in different ways in the examples presented above. Designers’ influence on formal, functional and aesthetic characteristics during a product’s development process therefore depends directly on the degree of freedom that they give the user. As can be seen from these examples, this
Materiality and technology
varies from the selection of ready-made designs to complete freedom on the part of the customer to choose any design option. Ultimately, as with all other methods, this is also determined by the materials used and by manufacturing capabilities. It is thus up to the designer to exploit the potential of these manufacturing processes. Quality and sustainability of colour Colour is one of many factors that affect the perceived quality of a product. It is culturally determined and also dependent on the changing preferences of the viewer. How people look at a product is thus directly related to the era in question and to the viewer’s subjective emotional and interpretation processes. Each design is also based on specific conditions. These influence the number of units produced, the development work, the choice of materials and the manufacturing capabilities. They also take into account the potential users’ level of knowledge. While it was possible to draw on seemingly unlimited resources during the 1970s, sustainable solutions are needed more than ever now in all areas in our era of resource shortages. The decision as to whether to use solid wood, a veneer or an imitation in a car’s interior trim or a floor depends on a variety of criteria and must be determined on a case-bycase basis. These criteria are defined in a profile of requirements and include, for example, information on processability, environmental sustainability, resistance to weathering and ageing, product life expectancy, recyclability and cost. A floor for a trade fair stand has to meet completely different requirements than that in an owner-occupied apartment. Designers also need to consider – and
22 Décor with individual designs, Living Collection Sergio Perrero Legnorosso. 23 Different hardcover designs for mobile phones and tablet computers. 24 3D printing makes it possible to create 3D colour maps. 25 Design process, from original idea to the finished bricks.
perhaps to reconsider – any prevailing connotations about materials, such as the idea that “wood is good, plastics are bad”. Depending on the target group, different information can circulate on certain materials and have a significant impact on customers’ purchasing decisions. If, for example, an object is described as being made from sustainable plastics, this does not necessarily mean that it is sustainable. As customers might suspect, some ecological plastics are dubious in terms of their ecological footprint or only degrade under specific environmental conditions – they do not decompose in compost or soil. It cannot be assumed that every user knows about plastics made from renewable or environmentally recyclable raw materials. To what extent these materials really are sustainable or recyclable – as manufacturers like to promise – can only be determined by taking a “holistic” view of the entire product life cycle from creation to recycling or disposal.
In terms of sustainability, it is essential to examine attitudes to the countless materials and manufacturing options available and to explore which materials and coatings are important in a particular place and which manufacturing strategy makes sense. After all, paint should not flake off. It should be able to withstand external influences – but at the same time, it should be easy to recycle it and to dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way. For designers, decisionmaking authority, especially in complex contexts, is closely linked with responsibility. This authority requires a high level of research skills and a capacity for dialogue in order to find aesthetic or functional solutions and to use resources sustainably, rather than simply consuming them. 25 31
Colour systems – illustrating, comparing, communicating
The reason why colour systems are currently viewed as indispensable in a large number of technical, creative, media and marketing professions can be attributed to the increasingly pronounced links between tasks and disciplines, to internationalisation, to the complexity of product-based requirements and to growing quality requirements. A vehicle interior, for example, must feature the same colour tone across five or six material types, while the interior design of a hospital must follow an colour aesthetic in keeping with recovery and care. Both challenges call for clearly established and easily communicable definitions.
(384 – 322 BC), who dealt with colour and the contrast of light in his work Meteorology. He wrote of his observations of natural colours during the day, from white midday shades to late-afternoon tones, from the red of the evening sky to the purple-violet and the black of the night sky . He recognised, for example, that bright embroideries had a different radiance in strong sunlight than they did in the pallid light of an oil lamp. Colour is not always constant – rather, it is dependent on light. Red has a different appearance when viewed against a white background compared to when it is perceived against a green background. The explanation of colours provided by Plato (ca. 427 – 347 BC) was based on the idea that sight was the result of a beam of light originating in the eye . For Plato, the sheen of a surface was of equal value to colour itself. Aristotle and Plato were conscious of the fact that harmonies and mysterious dissonances lay hidden behind colours. However, they could not pursue, by today’s standards, a concrete scientific understanding of the topic. Aristotle believed colour to be an intrinsic property of materials and bodies
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Categorisation and localisation The book Farb-Systeme 1611– 2007 [“Colour Systems, 1611– 2007”], edited by Werner Spillmann, presents 68 different colour categorisation concepts in the form of colour systems and groupings . The desire to develop the most systematic means of colour categorisation possible – and thus a system for localising the wide range of colours – can be viewed as the most significant motivating factor in the historical progression toward a comprehensive approach to visualisation.
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rather than of sensory perception. The beginnings of an exact, systematic and, by contemporary standards, scientific search for an understanding of luminous colour can be best traced back to Sir Isaac Newton (1642 –1726), who recognised that light was not itself coloured but held a “certain Power and Disposition to stir up a Sensation of this or that Colour” . On the basis of his experiments, Newton proved that white light could be dispersed to form a colour spectrum and could then be refracted back together – additive colour mixing, in contrast to subtractive colour mixing.
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Concept and origins The idea of explaining colours by means of a philosophical discourse and placing them within a canon of rules and regularities dates back to classical antiquity. The following explanations will demonstrate that the science and philosophy of colour are located, chronologically, at the beginning of our understanding of the subject, as a stable definition of what we observe is neither quantifiable nor comparable. One can go as far back as Aristotle
360° colour circle: the colour saturation is highest on the outer axis (of the colour circle). It forms the “equator line” of the colour structure. The RAL 040 colour chart: in uniform steps, the colour charts show, from the colour circle that is 360° in total, the lightness, the saturation and the grey axis.
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Depending on the field of application, it has generally been important for colour system developers and colour collectors to facilitate colour designations that most closely relate to practical use, so that painters, architects, designers, printers, etc. can have a retrievable source of nuances as colour templates. However, there are deviations from this approach, including, for example, a preference for particular colours, e.g. broader yellowgreen fields, followed by narrower bluered fields. Landscape-based or natural preferences on the part of authors are often responsible for this approach, as are field-specific considerations that dictate that a certain style – such as one derived from floral colour schemes – is to be used as the cornerstone of a particular colour programme. The essence of every colour system – and this applies in equal measure to theoreticians and practitioners – is based on the need for a precise uniform distance from hue to hue within the total spectrum, which usually contains between 1,600 and 2,000 individual hues (e.g. the Munsell colour system) (Fig. 1 and 2, p. 33). In cases where nuances are lacking, fine, distinct nuances can be created at the midpoint between existing tones. Only uniform systems can achieve this perfectly, while other types of systems prove inadequate for this purpose. Systems that facilitate this are the most expedient in terms of scientific theory and practice. They include, in particular, systems that are derived from purely subtractive colour mixing: magenta, cyan and yellow. It is this principle alone that brings about an even distribution structure or, to put it more clearly, as soon as the principles of additive mixing are combined with those of subtractive mixing – that is, the red, green and blue of additive colour mixing (luminous colours) are combined with 34
The colour chart Farben der Gesundheit (“Colours of Health”) is the result of a research project on colour that examined the semantic profiles of colours. The 120 most important shades are presented chromatically and according to how often they occur. A schematically structured system. The 1,625 hues in the RAL Design system are arranged according to the properties hue = H, lightness = L and chroma = C. The system’s asymmetrical structure is clearly recognisable. The white/grey axis runs through the middle from north to south. The colour circle forms the equator with its purest, clearest hues. NCS double cone. There are six hues in the NCS colour system: white and black are at the tip of the double cone, while green, red, yellow and blue are opposite one another.
magenta, cyan and yellow (non-luminous colours) – imbalances arise that deviate from perceived colour distinctions. The yellow-red-blue range is smaller than the blue-green-yellow range. Systems and clients When one attends congresses on the topic of colour, regardless of whether they take place in Zurich, Taipei, Shanghai, Berlin or Newcastle, it becomes abundantly clear that colour is a very broad and varied topic. Indeed, colour has become a relevant issue for a host of disciplines and occupational groups. The following list of relevant fields and professions is not stated in order of importance, as all professions are important and see themselves as such. At such congresses, one encounters physiologists, psychologists, chemists, physicists, colourimetry specialists, marketing professionals, colour technicians and light researchers of every kind, artists, educators, doctors, designers, architects, painters, craftspeople, media designers, photographers, film
professionals, colour archaeologists, colour scouts, authors, manufacturers, historians, journalists, people working in the esoteric field, natural health professionals, light therapists, cosmetologists, hair stylists and fashion designers. The list grows every year, encompassing new groups and subgroups – from tattoo artists to food colour designers (Fig. 4). All of these people need colours as an action tool and as a means of communication. Colour systems facilitate communication and enable people working in colour research, industry or trade to define hues precisely in reproduced images, irrespective of the quality of the medium. The flourishing global production of knowledge, along with the compilation and reproduction problem that goes hand in hand with this development, call for nationally and internationally applicable systems and standards. Supranationally accepted colour system companies provide support and see themselves as ser-
Examples of semantic colour profiles and semiotic signals. “Diagonal” has a defined colour scale. The colour values have been assigned colour codes. The more frequently occurring diagonal presentations, from bottom left to top right, are interesting. a More than 50 percent of the diagonals have a preferred slope that has to with our culture. Right-handed people often draw diagonals from bottom left to top right.
b The pie chart shows that imagination associates a great number of mystical lilac, violet and purple hues with “diagonals”. c The bar graph presents the hues from the pie chart in chromatic sequence. d Diagonal is diagonal: Twenty-five times European from bottom left to top right, twice American from top left to bottom right, and once crossed. Note how Germans and Americans wear their ties.
vice providers in the definition and transfer of colour(s). As such, they have developed colour systems and colour collections for their target groups, depending on the task involved. Colour systems with varying attributes RAL Design (Fig. 3)
• Derived from physical/physiological findings • Based on the three primary colours yellow, magenta and cyan (subtractive colour mixing) • Colour space: asymmetrical • Classification criteria: hue (H), lightness (L), chroma (C ) • Base colours: 39 (hue levels) • Total of 1,625 colours • On the market since 1993, particularly widespread in Europe and Asia in the field of product and surface design, architecture, interior design, manufacturing, trade, science, art and communications • Advantages: precise system with the highest level of even tone spacing
• The advanced application and design characteristics of a system are defined by the most comprehensive distribution of colour nuance possible without gaps in hues. A colour system reveals its strengths though its versatility of application and qualities during practical use. NCS (Natural Colour System)
• Derived from physiological findings on human colour perception • Based on the six primary colours yellow, red, blue, green, black and white • Base colours: 40 • Number of colours: 1,950 • Colour space: double cone (Fig. 5) • Classification criteria: blackness (S, in %), chromaticness (C, in %) and hue • Colours derived from 40 hue levels • Particularly widespread in Northern Europe in the fields of architecture, interior design, industry, product design, trade and crafts • Strong in the yellow-green range, with a high bandwidth of natural colours.
Widely used in German-speaking countries and Scandinavia Munsell Color Order System
• Based on uniform colour assessment • Builds on the five base colours yellow, red, magenta, blue and green • Colour space: asymmetrical • Number of colours: 1,600 and 1,181 pastels • Base colours: 40 • Classification criteria: colour (hue), lightness (value), saturation (chroma) • Glossy colours, non-glossy colours, food colours • Particularly widespread in the US and Japan in the fields of industry, design, architecture, art, product design, archaeology, geology, electronics and food • Useful for research that requires precision. The extensive colour scale of 2,800 nuances is particularly helpful. • Special colours and special colour collections for food products (e. g. USDA French fries colour grading chart for particular shades of brown)
RAL 080 90 10 RAL 085 80 70
RAL 110 80 40
RAL 130 70 10 RAL 180 70 25 RAL 220 70 30
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RAL 310 60 15
RAL 010 80 15
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RAL 350 60 45 RAL 040 50 60
RAL 310 70 25 RAL 360 60 20
RAL 270 40 40 RAL 290 60 30
RAL 040 60 60
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Various colour registers and collections Colour registers are based on practical applications, independent of systematic categories. In contrast to scientific colour systems, some individual colour ranges are assigned a broad number of nuances while others are comparatively sparse. Colour registers are mostly practical aids based on current trends. Pantone Matching System
• Based on experiential data on colourpreference behaviour • Colour space: cylindrical • Classification criteria: colour, saturation, lightness • Used in textile production • Number of colours: - print and paper: 1,341 hues - textiles: 1,932 hues • Colour chart: six secondary shades serve as the basis for printing inks comprised of yellow, orange, magenta, cyan, green, and black to achieve a printing scale not available in fourcolour printing for high-quality colour reproduction in offset printing • Additional collections for special colours, colour effects and metallic colours • Strengths: particularly useful in adapting to current trends, for interior and fashion design, and for public transport interiors – from cars and commercial aircraft to cruise ships RAL Classic
• Freely assembled collection of the most widely used colours in the industrial sector • Colours: 213 • Thanks to its exceptionally long lifespan of around 85 years, RAL Classic is used worldwide in the fields of architecture, steel construction, product design and mechanical engineering • Colours for sea marks with special water-resistant and environmentally36
A common, coded colour field helps to provide information about the design options for the definitions “diagonal”, “non-conformist”, “crass” and “cheeky”. The colour interpretations reflect the semantic profile for “purist”. They form the starting point for a sample interior for a hotel room. The colour outcomes when twelve test persons were asked to paint the colour definitions “sunset red”, “onion red” and Caput mortuum. The boundaries of definability become obvious. While linguistics is not a measurement of colour, it can serve as an acceptable approximation. a Sunset red b Onion red c Caput mortuum (“dead head”)
friendly chemical formulas for buoys • Strengths: the oldest collection of colours in the world, internationally standardised and formulated HKS
• Freely assembled collection of the most widely used colours in printing and graphics • Number of colours: 3,520 • Base colours: 88 • Various hues assigned to different qualities of paper • Widespread use in European print media • There are often formulas for these colours in the industrial sector for varnish and paint. • Strengths: high levels of versatility in the printing industry – a global support tool
urement form the scientifically standardised basis of a quantifiable world. Any sense of approximation and divergence in measurement units, resulting from time and place for example, cannot be compatible with universal objectivisation, either in terms of perception or reality. By the beginning of the Industrial Revolution at the latest, the individualised characteristics of private and professional environments in particular needed to be assigned stable norms. The movement away from traditional measurements and weights, along with the newly postulated norms of decimal weights and units of measurement, brought about revolutionary progress in the nascent internationalisation of the desire for communication and of knowledge transfer.
• Freely assembled collection of the colours used in architecture and the renovation of exterior facades and spaces in line with historic and cultural preservation concerns • Based on established colour systems • Collections of silicone resin and silicate coating colours, as well as other material-based colours • Widely used in architecture, interior design, facade, wall and interior decoration, and architectural conservation • Strengths: established characteristics derived from technical knowledge and natural resources: colour programmes with partly traditional and partly future-oriented backgrounds for designers, architects, authors and companies On the aims and uses of systems Systems, like measurement units for length, weight, format, filling capacity, and all mathematical, physical and chemical formulas, bring order to the world as we experience and imagine it. Units of meas-
It took around 100 years for the scientific world to take the systematic colour experiments begun by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Friedrich von Schiller and Philipp Otto Runge into a practical direction and apply them from the 1920s onwards. The perceptual fields of time, space, length, width, gravitation, acoustics, olfactory and gustometry, as well as the newest somatosensory experiences, vary from individual to individual. The essence of perception is not the result of findings that are closely based on reality, but rather the product of “reliable” perceptual and sensory veracity. There is no absolute sense of hearing in the same way that there is no absolute sense of olfactory recognition and no completely accurate measurement of gravitational force. Similarly, no “body clock” is anywhere near precise; one cannot estimate speed precisely or remember colours exactly. All of these perception categories carry with them the risk of a forensic hazard. The opinion that in case of doubt, the results of perception tests are more likely to be
the product of deception rather than of reality is commonly held as regards colour perception findings. C. G. Jung recognised that consciousness and actions are determined by sensations (light/dark, cold/warm), the feelings that follow these sensations (ranging from pleasant to unpleasant) and subsequently by intuitive values derived from our experiences. The principle characteristics of our actions and behaviour are thus initiated by sensations.
they have encountered over several hundred thousand years of development. To this day, we still give priority to the traditional feelings-based model, ahead of logical rationale.
Neuroscience explains this connection with the seemingly simple explanation that relying merely on reason or mathematically identifiable references to fact often causes logic-centred patterns of action to fail. Ultimately, it is feelings that have allowed Homo sapiens to overcome, with reasonable success, the dangers
Systems and knowledge acquisition Experiential and perception systems hover around the tipping point between efficiency and inefficiency. In order to cope adequately with the ever more accurately defined requirements for the most precise levels of differentiation and to acquire additional experiential data and other scientific insights, people need visual and other perception aids to optimise precision, thus allowing them to recognise and convey microscopic and macroscopic information, the hottest and coldest temperatures, and oblique and non-conforming values. Colour systems
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are essential for communicating semanticsemiotic profiles derived from research. They provide the results with a scientific basis (Fig. 6, 7 and 10). A descriptive or comparative classification of hues does not provide an even roughly quantifiable definition of colours. In his dissertation entitled Die Bildung der räumlich-visuellen Kompetenz  [“The Formation of Spatial/ Visual Competence”], Axel Buether describes 435 hues between the spectrum of “sunset red” and “onion red” alone (Fig. 9). Only a few professional colour experts will be able to correctly classify these two colour names or the term Caput mortuum, which comes from the history of colour. However, these classifications remain individual, unstable and vague, as shown by the twelve results here. The painted interpretation and the RALdefined codes provide further information.
10 A few splashes of yellow are needed to bring charm to purism. To put it unpoetically: what are 110 92 05, 000 85 00, 050 50 20, 000 20 00 and 100 60 10 without 080 80 60?
Notes:  Aristotle, 384 – 322 BC, published in Organon, Topica (dialectic conclusions)  Plato, ca. 427– 347 BC, In: De meteorologica, Timaios, 30th chapter, explanation of colours  Spillmann, Werner (ed.): Farb-Systeme 1611– 2007. Basel 2009, p. 16  Ibid.  Buether, Axel: Die Bildung der räumlich-visuellen Kompetenz: neurobiologische Grundlagen für die methodische Förderung der anschaulichen Wahrnehmung, Vorstellung und Darstellung im Gestaltungs- und Kommunikationsprozess, dissertation, from a monographic series published by Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle, volume 23. Halle (Saale) 2010
Using colour conceptually in rooms and spaces Marcella Wenger-Di Gabriele
Work on a colour concept for a room or space is mostly preceded by a diverse range of client expectations. In view of the countless number of ready-made ways of thinking that are available, as well as the dictates of commerce and trends, when making decisions about colour, we often fall back on ideas that have established themselves as generally accepted ideals. Individuality is packaged in cryptically modern-sounding catchwords such as “new classic”, “metropolitan”, “urban” and so on, before being voluntarily sacrificed to the mainstream. A common factor of all assignments is that they are generally commissioned with good intentions. We want to please ourselves or others. We are looking for something new or at least something different, in the hope of making an impact; we want to represent, attract and entice. We even talk about healing, from whatever condition, as the search for very different ways of boosting people’s wellbeing has been one of the major topics of the past 50 to 60 years when dealing with colour. As such, the findings from empirical experiments on the psychological impact of colours have been spread to great effect, as have words of wisdom from faraway cultures. Both are brought
to a broad public in lucrative crash courses, and reduced to the level of popular science. The psychological and physiological effects of certain shades and paints have now been awarded the unprotected “scientifically tested” seal of approval in what could be described as the culmination of the many promises about the healing powers of colours. However, wherever the effects of shades are communicated in a targeted manner, they are accompanied by unsettling information on side effects. As a result, it has become an established strategy when reaching decisions about colour in the design process to refer to colour systems that show the alleged spectrum of possibilities in a clearly understandable order and include codes as a guarantee of success. At the same time, these coded systems are first and foremost an aid to communicating colours and are not a design tool per se. Both manufacturers and designers also refer to colour collections by famous role models in order to legitimise concepts or product lines. In addition to this, eccentric artistic colour concepts generate prestige or at least interest by being different for the sake of being different. These concepts are then used as templates by some individuals who lack expertise in the field. Colour aesthetics When working conceptually with colour, individual tones play a secondary role because, as in music, the quality and appropriateness of a tone can only be recognised and experienced once it is integrated into a thematic composition. As such, a yellow wall on its own is simply a yellow wall until it is embedded as part of an overall space-forming entity in a way that is comprehensible and makes sense. On the one hand, the impact of this yellow surface may be experienced as revolting or alienating depending on a
person’s individual preferences; on the other hand, it may touch someone within the overall context in such a way that personal preferences become secondary or are even forgotten. This can be demonstrated in laboratory experiments by presenting several polychrome surfaces in a room. When very different colours are shown side by side, this can have a wide range of spatial or dynamic effects. Depending on the composition, vibrations are caused between disharmonious proximities; rhythms arise from strong light/dark contrasts; and wavelike oscillations occur in the case of flowing gradations. Thus, figuratively speaking, this results in “carpets of sound” that touch us with their unlimited possible effects. Colour Intoxication – a polychrome, room-encompassing installation All known colour systems and arrangements, from Wilhelm Ostwald (1853 –1932) to today’s commonly used colour systems, structure the world of colours to render it a more or less closed entirety which, in its consistent logic, seems to claim to cover the entire colour cosmos. The systems that result from this are often seen in practice as absolute truths, as they can be coded and are predictable and widely accessible. However, these supposedly all-encompassing systems sacrifice the rich colour spectrum of the colour-colour mixes and complementary mixes and prevent the tidy arrangement of diverse or even chance coexistence. The aim of the Colour Intoxication project (Fig. 1) was to demolish colour systems’ restrictive order, which also constitutes an aesthetic limitation. The goal was to explore the aesthetic facets expressed when the limited spectrum of colour systems was expanded to include previously
Using colour conceptually in rooms and spaces
“Colour Intoxication”. The spatial impact is fascinating. The result is a colour space that seems to be orderly although it is chaotic. “Colour Intoxication”. Hard rhythms created by light and dark contrasts; wavelike movements in rows featuring similar amount of colour or grey; colours that jump out or recede depending on the shade; brightness or proximity; highly contrasting and softer sounds; horizontal and vertical connections; flickering when disharmonious colours are beside each other. If the viewer focuses on a specific colour theme, for example, pink, then the pink colours work together as a group and become protagonists in a concert. Over time, they seem to multiply. 2
forgotten colour-colour and complementary mixes and when the system was not seen as a composition with a specific target, but rather as an encounter between different noises. Colour Intoxication was conceived as a creative contribution to the artistic and scientific discourse on colour systems, colour schemes and colour compositions. The only method applied throughout was empiricism in the form of a walk-in colour space that followed the chaos principle. The idea was that colour neighbourhoods and colour relationships would emerge that do not follow either an arrangement system or aesthetic conventions. This aim was based on the conviction that the unarranged emphasises the incompleteness of such systems and that the essence of each colour manifests itself anew again and again within the infinite possibilities of its relationship to other colours. As part of an exercise at the Haus der Farbe (House of Colour), at the Höhere Fachschule für Farbgestaltung (School of Applied Colour Design) in Zurich, students used three individually chosen colours to create their own colour collection. They also produced a card for each shade for the Colour Intoxication installation. On average, 17 students each mixed more than 300 colours, thus producing a collection of over 5,500 unique colour cards, which were carefully arranged in boxes. The interior architecture of the Haus der Farbe is ideally suited to the installation. In the heart of the school, which is located in a converted industrial plant, a hall under a skylight adjoins a studio screened by glass. The dimensions of the eastern studio wall were projected onto the opposite wall in the hall.
This meant that the static framework, with the reflecting projection surface between it, provided a promising starting point. The colour cards were mixed in hours of work until any kind of order and sequence – so-called colour nests – were eliminated. The colour cards were then nailed to the walls from top to bottom and also laid out on floors and tables. The planned disorder had an impressive effect. Surprisingly unusual and different worlds of colour turned the surfaces into dynamic areas. Standing in front of these for a while triggered fascinating phenomena, such as hard rhythms – vertical connections replacing soft horizontal waves – and highly contrasting and soft sounds. Not one colour was in the wrong place; there was not a colour too many, and each colour was necessary. The question of whether or not one liked the installation was subordinate to this aesthetic expressiveness. Without a word, it was apparent that individual colours are neither beautiful nor ugly in themselves, but are simply innocent and must always be evaluated objectively and on the basis of context. The empirically developed open colour space, which was based on chaos rather than order, showed relationships rather than order. Countless unique noises, sounds and rhythms made up a dynamic “carpet of colour” (Fig. 2). Cheerful colours – a serious business What appears to be an entertaining, endlessly variable keyboard of colours can render people helpless and restless. When so many shades are presented at the same time, as in the Colour Intoxication installation, countless simultaneous phenomena involved in the perception of colour interact, with an intoxicating effect on the senses. The call for sets of rules and formulas thus becomes understandable as a logical reflex response to the profusion of colour.
In systematic colour schemes, the world of colour seems harmonious, clear and logically arranged like the sequence of notes on a well-tuned piano. In the same way that untrained players can bang out a simple tune or play scales on the piano, when choosing shades non-experts seek orientation within a colour scheme according to colour gradients or the latest fashion and instinctively look for something that is subjectively pleasing. Only seldom do those who are interested in music but untrained dare to sing or play music in front of an audience. When it comes to colours, however, non-experts from all sections of the population and all professions rarely feel daunted when faced with the many available shades and publicly display the most bizarre creations. Unlike acoustic disharmonies, these creations do not fade away. Like permanent beats of a drum or screeching synthetic noises, objects designed in this way force themselves out of their context, turn up the volume level without asking and, in the worst case, become role models because they make a statement. The architectural and landscape context, however, can be compared to a permanent sensual composition, to which we must add carefully conceived decisions on colours and materials in an appropriate manner. Considered in this way, it becomes clear that favourite colours or subjective liking can naturally play a role, but ultimately should not set the tone on their own. The meaning of one’s individual favourite colour(s) must be critically reconsidered when working conceptually with colour in the design process. As we know, it is the rarity of things – or in colour compositions the quantity of a colour – that increases their attractiveness. If a favourite colour is over-hastily and conspicuously made the main theme of a design as a means of fulfilling a certain purpose, then its attrac39
Using colour conceptually in rooms and spaces
tiveness wanes due to overkill. Therefore, instead of painting the facade of a house blue, for example, glimpses of blue in recessed loggias could be used to set accents in the exterior space, or a blue room in the interior of the house could create a far more magical impression, as the desired colour is only revealed at a second glance. Emphasised vibrant colours, embedded like precious stones in the composition and in the right dosage, come across as exclusive, while the excessive use of markedly vibrant colours tends to come across as cheap and brash. A colour inventory as inspiration If we want to experience and understand the beauty of colours through our senses, free of the knowledge of potentially banal, disgusting, sad or even evil associations, then we must look at very different aesthetic phenomena with empathy. The aesthetics in the colour of fresh blood, for example, do not lie in the blood itself,
in the real thing, in what the observer knows and associates with it, but rather in the visual impression of multifaceted degrees of brilliance, diverse colour qualities and colour nuances, as well as in the sleek surface with its organic structures that the observer perceives with the eye alone. It is and should be possible to free aesthetic impressions from thoughts and associations, and to use and convey them in new thematic contexts free of preconceptions. What we are ultimately talking about, therefore, are degrees of brilliance and sleek, soft impressions that can be achieved using complex, high-grade coating technologies, as well as manifold colour qualities and colour nuances. In this way, inspiration is transformed and – brought into an appropriate context and communicated with a clear objective – manifests itself in colour and material compositions. Colour designers often find themselves in a situation where they are asked to integrate existing coloured surfaces into
a new colour concept. This task is particularly appealing when the aim is to make an “off-putting” or no longer “fashionable” colour attractive once again. In this case, it is worth taking a good look and experimenting with the topic of colour in order to counteract unwelcome associations and negative clichés. For example, by proceeding in this way, a coloured surface next to strong colours can appear to have gentle and cheerful nuances thanks to the reflections, and thus be evaluated differently (Fig. 5). Working professionally with colour therefore requires a wide and diverse range of experience with the field and a rich personal inventory of shades, materials and surfaces. Like the library of an architect or the musée imaginaire of an art historian, the archive boxes, sketchbooks and showcases of the colour designer are his or her personal cabinet of curiosities, on the basis of which unique colour concepts can be created (Fig. 3 and 4). Analysis instead of formulas At the beginning of each new commission there are a great many unknowns – in a manner of speaking, new challenges make a “beginner” of a colour designer every time he or she starts a new project. In view of the sometimes justified scepticism that construction professionals have about colour design, it is important to explain it plausibly as a service far removed from rigid ideologies. It is therefore vital to pay close attention to the multifaceted circumstances and conditions involved in the commission and to look at the project as a whole from various perspectives – both in terms of the architecture, the light and space situation, and from the client’s point of view. It never does any harm to change perspectives, for example by lying down in a bed in a home for the elderly to acquire a realistic idea of the restricted visual radius of peo-
Using colour conceptually in rooms and spaces
Inventory of colours and surfaces, collected everyday items as inspiration for colour design – a wealth of colours, effects and surfaces. Inspiration as a method: when people manage to see “green earth” instead of “military green” and “powder” or “sky red” instead of “plastic flower pink”, inspired and refined colour palettes based on everyday objects can be developed for use in construction projects. Colour in context. a An unpopular or supposedly boring colour can
ple who are bedridden; or by joining patients in the social room of a hospital to obtain important information from spontaneous conversations that occur there and to gain authentic impressions of the room’s impact and function. This is another area where a colour designer’s personal experiences flow into their professional work. Where designers lack specific experience and the necessary information, it is important that they carry out careful research and ask other professionals for support. Client wishes with respect to moods, effects and functions play an important role in the preliminary analysis. When deciding on the weighting, colour designers – rather like doctors – must distinguish between diagnosis and the correct treatment. Just as a stomach ache does not necessarily mean that a patient has appendicitis and needs surgery, “friendly” does not necessarily mean “light and sunny”, that is, “yellow”. On occasion, this example may be useful when dealing with a client, so that they understand that decisions on colour must be approached in the same way as decisions on medical treatment and that a diagnosis – in this case the analysis – should always take place first. After the research phase comes a written analysis, which ends with an understandable conclusion. It must be possible to derive what is necessary from a design point of view from this conclusion. When the design requirements are expressed as a goal, this can lead to an initial consensus. Colours are not yet important in the analysis phase and memorandum of understanding unless they play a key role in the existing situation or in the context itself. The mental images, spontaneous ideas or thematic design approaches that emerge during this time can be sketched or presented in the form of assemblages. However, they should not be shown
be given a new meaning by adding another colour. b A chromatic colour is painted on each opposite page in the sketchbook. c This model illustrates the topic of colour radiation. The same mustard colour is lent many different nuances depending on what colour is opposite it. The reflections mean that the transition from strong chromatic colours to effectively achromatic shades is perceived as gentle.
rashly to the client, because, once visual images have found their way into someone’s head, it is difficult to change them. In practice, the colour samples that are crucial for a concept are often mixed by hand, as it makes sense to do so. The overall colour combination is precisely weighed up. Although it is rarely possible to provide exact codes for handmade mixtures, standard colour descriptions such as those available in the Natural Colour System (NCS) or RAL system are useful for communicating with the client and the tradespeople working on the project in order to avoid misunderstandings. Other essential aesthetic factors include descriptions of the desired impression, such as dull matt, high gloss, silk matt, fine or coarse, as well as a definition of the processing technique in terms of the desired tool marks on the surfaces.
Communication When designers take the approach that they do not primarily give the client what they want, but rather what they need, this can sometimes give rise to protracted processes. In turn, these processes lead to a design response to the project requirements determined in the analysis. When communicating design ideas, it has 5b proved useful to present superordinate effects and metaphors from art, literature, music and culture, or simply to provide examples and/or experiences from everyday life now and again. When designers tell a story, this should evoke specifically developed colour combinations that help to convey the images in the designer’s mind in such a way that the client develops their own ideas and can then identify accordingly with the colour concept. People perceive mental images of room moods spatially, whereas they read and evaluate spaces that are presented visually as room images. As a result, the oral and visually abstracted 5c 41
Using colour conceptually in rooms and spaces
Lenggen elderly care home, Langnau in Emmental (CH) 2006, Jörg + Sturm Architects. In designing the corridor the designers used using a witty communications strategy to persuade the client to accept a paradoxical design that emphasised the length of the space. 6
description of a rudimentary colour concept works better than any two-dimensional visual presentation. The aim is that the client will identify with the explained and visualised design intention, that is, to reach a consensus that both sides can refer back to at a later stage when working out the design details. Definitive decisions on colour must be taken within the actual context of the situation, and must consider the light and shade conditions on site. This takes into account the absorptions and reflections that are to be expected. It is crucial to examine both paints defined by colour codes and hand-mixed samples on site – on the one hand with respect to their colour and, on the other hand, above all with respect to the look and feel of the surfaces, which are significantly affected by tool marks. The careful and professional implementation of a concept idea is not only a design challenge, but also largely a communications challenge requiring diplomatic skill. The interlocutors are just as different as the respective languages they speak: the language of the architect, the tradesperson, the client and many more. Occasionally, such discussions give rise to linguistic acrobatics and often end in laughter. Experience has shown, however, that this is a symptom of coming closer to the goal, as it covers up in a charming manner a kind of capitulation and reveals the desire for unexpected solutions. An example of this situation can be seen in a 30-metre-long corridor in the basement of a car home (Fig. 6). The corridor is used by the residents to access the common rooms in a neighbouring home for the elderly. The colour designer’s job was to tell the painter what shade of white to use so that he could paint the walls. The pleasure in the design vision, which emphasised the impressive length 42
of the corridor, resulted in a unique solution that was received positively by all those involved, rather than creating a garage atmosphere. The diagnosis “long” would generally have suggested a treatment that lent rhythm to the space in order to shorten it. However, the designer decided on a paradoxical intervention, namely to lengthen the space. This allowed the senior citizens to arrive at their destination quicker than they had expected. The design generates an acceleration effect. The essence of an intervention of this kind is ultimately a fortunate outcome that is impressive due to its consistency. Going beyond aesthetic conventions, the design meets the demands of a particular situation and touches people. Care requires time There are various ways and means for colour designers to achieve good designs in architecture in cooperation with clients and architects. The following list describes several planning steps that should be mentioned in the proposal so that the careful procedure and the benefits for the client can be rendered transparent. The aim of the first step is to formulate a core statement on the idea behind the colour design. The basis for this is a thorough analysis of the situation and object, from which a concept idea is then developed. A text written for the client describes the conclusions of the analysis, the idea and the design intention derived from it. The second step involves creating a rough concept with possible alternatives. This includes colour samples and proposals on materials, and presents rudimentarily envisaged implementation alternatives. The aim of the first presentations and meetings with planners and the client is to reach consensus. If the decision-
making body is a committee, the agreement recorded in the minutes acts as a kind of anchor that can be referred back to if subjective counterarguments threaten to weaken the core of the design intention at a later stage of the project. The third step involves a precise concept, including a detailed colour and materials plan. Samples, which should be as large as possible and used on site, are helpful for defining both colours and materials, mainly in cooperation with tradespeople and product manufacturers and in close coordination with the architect. Finally, implementation support ensures the quality of the design. In the best-case scenario, this leads to an overall consistent quality. What is ultimately important is to uphold a high-quality building culture. This necessitates the creation of aesthetic and substantive value. However, this can only be achieved in the built environment if, rather than hastily seeking beauty, we strive carefully and in an interdisciplinary manner for good quality in our work. Decisionmakers should therefore not trust blindly, and when we talk of a building culture, then time cannot mean money. The real masters of the trades should not only be desired, but also in demand. In this sense, appropriate and proper colour and materials designs are needed more than ever as integrative and value-generating components in constructing new buildings and in carrying out construction work on existing buildings.
Colour concepts Timo Rieke
These days, the use of colour presents no particular challenge from a technical point of view. Whereas in centuries past, the choice of colours was automatically limited by natural pigments and binding agents, there now seems to be no limit to the possibilities for using colour and material. One can select from colour charts containing 2,000 different shades, and ambitious colour classification systems encompass almost the entire spectrum of perceptible shades. While in the past, colour was expensive and saturated colours particularly rare, it is now a relatively cheap design medium and generally easy to process. Colour – which once belonged to nature and to things – has lost its link to material and surfaces over the years and can now be deployed almost universally. The freedom of colour When cheap synthetic paints were invented in the second half of the 19th century, bringing with them the possibility of decorating almost any material in any colour, broad sections of the population first experienced the freedom to decide what colour to use for which particular purpose. Any kind of choice inevitably gives rise to questions of responsibility and justification. Anyone working in the area of design today has the choice of either avoiding colour, choosing a colour based on personal feelings or consciously applying colour by taking context and strategy into account. The rules of colour If colour is universally deployable from a technical point of view, the nature of human perception still determines its layers of meaning. From the rules of perception we can thus filter out basic rules for using colour. Colour concepts therefore determine the general comprehensibility of a design in relation to
human perception in the personal and societal domain. Unfortunately, there is no widely available or recognised source for classifying the term “colour concept”. Colour concepts seem to have eluded systematic classification to date and are only familiar to a circle of experts. However, there is a pressing need for a general definition of basic rules. On the one hand, the enormous impact of colour on the quality of a design is well known, on the other, there are no justification strategies for communicating high-quality colour design. So how can we define colour concepts? Colour as communication In the design process, colour concepts are largely shown in the form of mood boards, colour and material collages, fabric samples and verbal interpretations, as well as by models and threedimensional representations. The basis is formed by intuitive experiments and empirical investigations and their examination according to the rules of perception, relevance and emotional and cultural comprehensibility with regard to milieus and target audiences. In order to fulfil a particular goal, every space and object requires colour and materiality specifications in the context of its technical function, sensual manifestation and cultural significance. Colour concepts analyse and record these manifold contexts, formulate them strategically, and provide both a functional and a sensual and cultural location for a design. A colour concept in this sense is an interdisciplinary communication concept that allows an object to communicate non-verbally in a way that can be understood. The creation of intelligibility therefore requires broad knowledge of society on the part of the
designer to ensure that the communication also fulfils its function, namely opening up a particular space in which all participants of a designated context understand each other. It is the colour designer’s task to fill this space with colour, surface, form and material – both literally and figuratively. The challenge of a colour concept is to capture all of the signal levels of colour affecting sensory perception in a controlled fashion and to apply them in an impact-oriented way within a defined framework. The meaning of a colour is only determined here through its combination with other colours and particular materials, as well as by its local and textual context. In this context, the coherence of a colour message with respect to collective influences, habits of seeing and characteristics of human perception forms the starting point for colour design. Within a design project, a colour concept thus defines people’s relationship to the object being designed. In connection with the right form, the right space, the right lighting, the right materials and an appropriate structural order, colour can create highly diverse harmonies, form a type of resonance chamber for emotions, and give rise to fields of tension. Colour concepts differentiate between the natural and the artificial, harmony and difference, stasis and vibration, and past and future. This differentiation particularly applies when it is consciously implemented and becomes an integral part of a design project.
Pencil drawing, coloured with marker, oh, mummy' pink blanket, by Anne-Lise Coste, 2003.
Methods of colour design The methods for developing a sound colour concept are based on scientific knowledge derived from a very wide range of disciplines. Colour concepts take into account technical components, engineering facts and market trends, as well as historical developments, sociological phenomena and psychological factors. By applying design and scientific methods in colour collections, they make it possible to depict and evaluate future scenarios and colour master plans. A precise knowledge of material characteristics, processing methods and innovations makes it easier to design coherent, future-oriented colour concepts. The following classification serves as a proposal for working strategically, consciously and responsibly with colour. It offers no prescription, but rather proposes vital ground rules for using colour in any design discipline. To illustrate the various function levels of colour concepts, the following order can be used as an elementary justification strategy: • visual colour concept • sensual-haptic colour concept • anecdotal-iconic colour concept • systematic colour concept Although the division between each concept is relatively precise, the first three colour concepts overlap in most cases and form elements of the systematic colour concept. Evaluating the relevance of each of the four levels for a colour design is essential, and is determined by the type of design, desired function or associated purpose. To gain an overview of the diverse modes of action in colour concepts one needs to analyse every design task with respect to the four colour concepts as follows: 44
• visual: creating visual stimuli – accentuate, conceal and differentiate • sensual-haptic: producing physical sensation – colour, form, texture • anecdotal-iconic: telling stories – addressing memories – colour scenarios – location, formal order, light, transparency, layering, abstraction • systematic: master plan – integration, experiment – overall atmosphere The visual colour concept
The visual colour concept is the fundamental colour concept, as it is based on visual phenomena and key habits of seeing, which largely occur affectively and unconsciously. The goal of the visual colour concept is to draw a functional distinction, to accentuate or to conceal, to create space or to engender a sensation of proximity or distance. It thus specifies which elements of a design should attract attention and which should recede into the background. The principles behind this can be illustrated by a few aspects of widely-known colour contrasts. A systematic colour concept works consciously with these conditions, thus ensuring that the viewer can decode and understand a message. Most aspects of the visual colour concept are oriented towards rapid perceptibility and functional differentiation, communicating a sense of security and orientation in a multi-sensual world. Visual colour concepts find particular application when they are oriented towards a long-range effect and the rapid grasp of information. Pedestrian zones, supermarkets and airports are usually designed in a way that makes orientation as easy as possible for pedestrians, shoppers and travellers, but for precisely that reason they find themselves in competition for visual supremacy. This applies to every type of sign, labelling or guidance system, but also to crucial aspects
of corporate identity such as corporate colours, the long-range impact of magazine covers and packaging, interfaces, menu navigation, illuminated signs, fashion, furniture, shop designs, architecture and urban planning. Colour follows function The red button on the compact system by Dieter Rams converted into an MP3 player is a simple example of a visual colour concept. The system’s most important functional element is clearly differentiated from the colouring of its environment. The red of the “on” button becomes a functional-technical signal that can be understood intuitively. The colour concept is focused and functionally justified. Naturally, this principle can be transferred to any type of design. Electric cables, for instance, can be identified by colour, while colour also lets us distinguish correctly between different telephone companies. At the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris, the unambiguous functions of the architecture can be read on the facade like a technical colour code (Fig. 2). The ergonomic requirements of products or the spatial design of hospitals can also be described in simple colour contrasts in order to indicate routes, aggregate or delineate functional spaces, or emphasise specific details. Playing with habits of seeing In art and architecture, fundamental colour contrasts often form colourful spatial sequences that deal with the interplay of foreground and background, transparent overlapping and layering, and concurrent colour impact. Colour becomes a design element unto itself by emphasising and clearly demonstrating its fascinating optical effect. With this in mind, Munich’s Brandhorst Museum (Fig. 3) and other buildings designed by Sauer-
bruch Hutton recall the colour composition exercises of the artists Josef Albers, Imi Knoebel and Bridget Riley. Colour becomes a game with the senses, playing on simple habits of seeing and optical phenomena. Averting and concealing These examples illustrate methods of accentuation, but concealment and camouflage can also fulfil a similar function. Particularly in the military domain, there are countless examples in which a visual colour concept attempts to conceal people, vehicles and combat equipment to make them invisible to the enemy. Similar effects are possible in domestic applications and spatial concepts, where colour adjustment is used to visually conceal unimportant or intrusive devices; concealed doors are one example, as are technical appliances and differences in materials and surfaces. A skilful interplay of concealment and accentuation allows transparent functionality to emerge using colour differentiation alone. Fascinating optics The play of optical phenomena allows the creation of colour concepts that exert a natural fascination because they clarify human perception. The artist Olafur Eliasson addresses people’s relationship with colour and light in his designs. His ring of colour, a walkthrough light installation in the form of a round path in Aarhus, functions like a transparent, visual filter, which visitors can change through their own movements. Here the colour design serves to illustrate people’s relationship with the environment (Fig. 4). The artist Tobias Rehberger provokes a similar, but more radical dialogue between people and their optical perception via his deconstructed installations by making it impossible to classify object-like spaces (Fig. 5).
Colour contrasts The methods for designing a visual colour concept are thus diverse, but are mostly based on the fundamental impact of known colour contrasts (which indicate nothing less than the means of visual perception), optical illusions and visual habits of seeing. Colour schemes using colour swatches, films or tools to stipulate combinations and contrasts are a good method for quickly testing, experimenting with or specifically applying the elementary optical effects of colour. Analysis of the spatial context is essential here and defines the design work.
The sensual-haptic colour concept
The chromatic/achromatic contrast defines the radiance or saturation of a shade. Highly saturated colours appear closer and more vibrant to us than unsaturated colours, which seem static and rigid. Modulating towards grey reduces the motion and activity of a colour. Unsaturated colours are ideally suited to backgrounds, while highlighting and accents are best created using small quantities of highly saturated colours, as they seem to advance towards the observer, appearing closer than achromatic shades.
“When one understands that the interpretation of a visual impression is largely based on physical experiences, design elements such as colour become game elements in a world of motion dynamics and immediate sensation.”  While visual colour concepts primarily mark the difference, importance and position of an object through the far senses (sight and hearing) in humans, the second essential factor of a colour concept concerns the creation of empathy and the personal comprehensibility of a design through the near senses directly experienced by the body (touch, smell, taste).
The application of the cold-warm contrast also says a lot about the proximity or distance of an object. Warm shades seem far closer and more active to the observer than cold shades, which are usually interpreted as a background. As a main colour, red regularly appears faster and more active than blue. As far as people are concerned – and this applies particularly to the colours of lighting – red is warmer and therefore under certain circumstances cosier and to an extent more calming than some shades of blue (see the comparison between daylight and artificial light on p. 55).
The light-dark contrast demonstrates the human capacity for perceiving differences in brightness and interpreting them appropriately. The application of various levels of brightness allows the observer to define density, space, proximity and distance. Shadow modulations create an apparently natural spatial environment, whereas a design without shadows appears artificial and flat. Dark colours seem heavier and spatially more horizontal than bright colours, which appear light and vertical.
Technical-functional colour coding, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (F) 1977, Renzo Piano und Richard Rogers. Visual colour concept, section of facade, Brandhorst Museum, Munich (D) 2009, Sauerbruch Hutton. Your rainbow panorama, installation by Olafur Eliasson, Aarhus (DK) 2011. Was du liebst, bringt dich auch zum Weinen, installation by Tobias Rehberger, 53rd Biennale, Venice (I) 2009.
Colour is content, not surface The objective of a sensual-haptic colour concept is to pick up on the habitual connection between all the senses and bring together their different layers of meaning. Colour’s capacity to induce certain expectations of physical feelings makes this possible. Colours appear rough or smooth, soft or hard, sharp or rounded, heavy or light, or flat or spatial. To understand the meanings of colours, it can be useful to understand sight as a sort of touch, but also as a type of hearing and smelling at a distance. Colour concepts thus have to filter out and take into account perceived structures and features of objects, even spatial, acoustic and olfactory meanings. In the visual arts, colour also serves to alter the impression of materiality, space and feel.
Colour as emotional space A good sensual-haptic colour concept can stimulate the human senses and emphasise and reinforce people’s particular emotional relationship with their surroundings. Designers construct physical spaces by defining light and shadow; they stipulate heaviness and lightness through brightness; they influence dynamics, speed and volume by using active or restful colours; and they determine proximity and distance through saturation. A colour’s physical factors can be translated into a three-dimensional colour system that differentiates between brightness (heavy/light, up/down), saturation (near/far, moving/static) and differences in shade (cold/warm, sharp / rounded). The three optical variables of a colour system thus refer systematically to known habits of seeing and feelings of a physical nature (Fig. 6 and 7).
colour appearance /survey results
colour appearance /survey results
Integrating colour and structure Any type of object or material whose surface structure and colour are produced artificially offers particularly good opportunities for targeted sensual-haptic design. The surface structure of artificial materials allows them to emphasise the meaning of a colour and ideally to create a unified level of meaning in the field of tension between colour, form and structure. A sensual-haptic colour concept is therefore particularly useful in designing textiles and surface coatings, but also in conceiving three-dimensional products and complex atmospheric spaces. Even in monochrome objects, haptic structures create tension, sensitise feelings and thus increase their emotional meaning. The industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa defines the layers of meaning in his packaging series Juice Skin, which was exhibited in the 2004 show Haptic in Tokyo, through targeted haptic design in connection with a certain content and a certain colour (Fig. 8). This setting became the prototype for a syntactically applied, interconnected colour atmosphere in which all design elements are coordinated with each other, their meanings readily decipherable. The emotional meaning of this type of design stands out significantly over the purely optical effect and creates a colour-material concept shaped by the sensual and the haptic. This concept can engender trust in a product by drawing clear links between levels of meaning, thus creating a sense of clarity and orientation. Empirically testing the effect of colours Empirical studies combined with an experimental approach are the best way to filter out the connections between colour, form and structure. Because this involves effects that all humans perceive
in a similar way, they provide a good starting point for a comprehensible colour concept. Intuition can be very helpful here, as people have within them mechanisms for evaluating the connections between colour and structure. However, empirical examination in planning projects requires a high degree of experience. To avoid mistakes and ambiguities, every colour used should be tested for its sensual-haptic effect.
Even abstract colour schemes recall natural scenarios and atmospheres. A “natural” colour milieu functions as a quotation in an office landscape, while colour scenarios from previous periods and styles can be deliberately recreated and become metaphors for times gone by. On the basis of the past and observation of the present, a colour concept can depict the latest fashionable developments and create future colour scenarios.
The anecdotal-iconic colour concept
After the sensual-haptic colour concept has largely determined the relationship between people and their objects, the anecdotal-iconic concept provides a superimposed layer of meaning based on metaphors and quotations of natural and cultural elements. Anecdotal colour concepts result from the strategic application of habits of seeing of a cultural and societal nature. In many cases, this involves the use of quotations that the viewer of a cultural sphere can readily decode, either consciously or unconsciously. Widely known facts or scenarios can transport an atmosphere into a space when they are used as a reference. This creates references to history and society or location-specific colour scenarios between nature and megacities, forests and parks, and wilderness and living rooms. The artist Michael Lin, for instance, alters the effect of spaces in his installations by using anecdotal colours and patterns in a particularly simple and impressive way. Colour scenarios The anecdotal-iconic colour concept is particularly useful when spaces, products or two-dimensional designs are meant to evoke a certain context. The goal is to define known colour scenarios and to transport or transfer them to physical designs.
Colour and abstraction An image by Gary Andrew Clarke depicting the colours of the world-famous Mona Lisa, readily identifiable even though it is rendered in just 140 dots (Fig. 9), shows that direct, visual quotations are not necessarily required. This an impressive example of the anecdotal-iconic effect of simplified, abstract colour schemes. However, the question of which reference is right for a colour design can only be answered by the context and function of the objects and space.
The starting point for an anecdotal-iconic colour concept could be the colour moods of various landscapes, or colour and form from great works of art, entertainment culture and other fashions and technical developments. In every city, there are culturally determined milieus from allotments to ethnic markets which represent unique colour structures. Between the mudflats of northern Europe and the beaches of the tropics there are whole colour realms which, through the skilled modulation of colour, shading and clarification, transparency and composition can create moods that engender an emotional connection. Anecdotal-iconic colour concepts can imitate both natural and artificial scenarios. Natural scenarios are distinguished by marked brightness modulation and reduced saturation within a limited range of colours, while artificial scenarios mainly lean towards highly saturated, glowing colours from a highly diverse range of shades without brightness modulation or gradations of saturation. Artificial colour scenarios therefore often appear two-dimensional and graphic. Natural colour scenarios are particularly pleasing and harmonious via contrasts of complementary colours and warm-cold characteristics in limited quantities.
Associations transferred to a colour system a brightness b cold / warm c saturation Surface structures evoke various colour associations: results of the empirical haptic visuals study. Packaging series, Juice Skins, 2004, Naoto Fukasawa. Mona Lisa remixed, 2009, Gary Andrew Clarke.
For example, the architectural practice Miralles Tagliabue EMBT in Barcelona transports the life of a market hall and its surroundings in a defined pixel structure in 67 colours to the roof of the building and thus charges the location anecdotally (Fig. 10). With Petra Blaisse, Rem Koolhaas defines certain zones of the central public library in Seattle with quotations of natural illustrations, thus denoting various usage systems via a targeted differentiation in colour and form (Fig. 11). Amsterdam-based architectural practice K2 designed a colour code for a residential complex in Schiedam that resulted in a synaesthetic transferral of a piece of music to the gridded facade (Fig. 12). Colour hunting Effective methods for empirically depicting both familiar and new colour scenarios include scouting via photographs and colour samples, as well as abstract transferral. Iconic images and ideas and historical colour scenarios also offer a good opportunity to transfer their emotional associations to a space or a product. Methods of observing the past and the present play an important role here and form the basis for cyclical trends and future developments of colour and material. The better-known and closer to the ideal models are, the more “energetic” their reception. The systematic colour concept
“Meaning is not just created in the brain in our heads, but in the brains that are distributed over our whole bodies and in all the memories they contain.”  The objective of the systematic colour concept is to depict certain overall atmospheres and fill them with design. The Pavilion 21 MINI Opera Space in Munich by architectural practice Coop Himmelb(l)au unites the three aspects 48
of a colour concept in a simple way. The red area on which the building seems to stand forms an optically striking base. It denotes an intermediary or recreational zone, at once a cultural quotation of the “red carpet” as well as a sensual cue, the soft materiality a bodily signal for active, haptic deceleration and sensitisation. A systematic colour concept uses interconnected optical, sensual and cultural aspects. The better the three levels are intertwined, the better and more comprehensible the concept will appear. By applying the methods of the three colour concepts, all aspects of a design can be categorised and applied in a modular fashion. Colour designers become meaning and mood managers when they are able to bring together optics, sensual sensation and cognitive evaluation into an overall experience that is relevant and meaningful. Experiments enrich the systematic approach and allow new flexible solutions around the sensual and cultural essence of colour. Experimental colour Experiments with colour allow new things to emerge and help to expand our spectrum of colour perceptions in a sensitive, sensual and cultural way. The design company Raw Color in Eindhoven experiments with the natural colour of plant pigments, worked into light-sensitive textiles and additive textile transparencies (Fig. 13). In its experimental projects, Hamburg-based Studio Besau-Marguerre treats raw copper with heat and patterns, creating fascinating, colourful and material-appropriate products (Fig. 14 a). Increasing numbers of large industrial firms are turning to small experimental design companies, thus creating flexible colour scenarios as the basis for their collections, which are open to the play of colour, material and emotion.
Colour masterplans A colour masterplan is a superordinate collection of colours and surfaces that offers the greatest possible flexibility, holding the entire collection together by defining the framework within which colour developments can occur. It also has the advantage that the colours can be ideally combined with each other. The objective of systematic colour concepts for products or architecture is to develop colour and material concepts that create their own identifiable space. For example, the colour and surface libraries that Hella Jongerius designs for industrial clients become colour guidelines, which represent an evolved overall collection as a cohesive whole while at the same time incorporating current trends (Fig. 14 b). This convergence of art and design serves to charge products emotionally. Some well-known manufacturers in the area of design now create colour universes by commissioning various selected designers. These universes address specific, design-oriented target audiences. The formal design is usually particularly simple and primarily defined by the emotional and playful use of colour and line, with progressions, blocks, rhombuses, grids and triangulations that recall contemporary generative design in architecture using CAD applications, Grasshopper, or other forms of processing. This creates a systematic colour concept that works on all levels and whose constituent elements can be flexibly combined. In a similar way, colour masterplans for cities take into account not just the meaning of each individual building in a district, but also the cumulative urban effect. Colour doesn’t mean colourful The use of sensual and metaphorical aspects increases the value of a design by creating a connection to people, soci-
NCS colour system: C = S 0530-B D = S 3060 -Y30R E = S 2060-G30Y
G E A
F = S 0520 -Y90R G = S 5540-G10Y A = S 0550-G90Y B = S 4020 -Y30R
D G A
G C A
G F A
D C F
G G G
C B E
ety and culture. However, the usual hardware store designs featuring visual colour concepts ignore the emotional and cultural impact of colour and thus lead to an impoverishment of the colour realm, favouring the striking and decorative. The strong saturation of standard products and building facades tends to indicate artificiality and a low level of sensitivity. Now that fundamental functional architecture and the largest possible expression have determined the appearance of cities – particularly in Germany – for years, we need a decisive step towards honesty and elegance that sensitively addresses all the senses and encourages cultural vision. The universal applicability of colour and individual production means that colour concepts can be tailored to the individual requirements of the client more than ever today and in the future. Digital models and printing, laser engraving and cutting, and 3D printing all open up possibilities that call for a strategic use of colour and form. Where once manufacturers offered targeted product collections in their design departments, the democratisation of design is now a factor that calls for justifiable, overarching and flexible colour concepts.
D G A
G C A
G F B
South facade b 10 Santa Caterina Market renovation, Barcelona (E) 2005, Miralles Tagliabue a design sketches b execution 11 Colour defines and delineates levels of meaning, design by Petra Blaisse for the Central Library in Seattle (US) 2004, OMA. 12 Translation of music into colour, Klavier apartment block, Schiedam (NL) 2007, Architectenbureau K2. 13 The Raw Color design company illustrates the holistic impression of colour atmospheres. Natural colours and transparencies show the interplay of colour and the fascination of light and colouring. Eindhoven (NL) 2010. 14 Experimental colour and material studies a Studio Besau-Marguerre b Hella Jongerius, 2013
Outlook More than ever, we now need uncompromising emotionality towards objects, as well as a comprehensive sensibility towards colour and materials. Anyone who feels colour can communicate this feeling to others. This can be explained through close scrutiny, through intelligent, syntactic use, through connections in history and culture, and through the observation of nature, cities, people and objects. With colour we transfer experiences and atmospheres to an object. The philosopher Slavoj Žižek proclaimed that we need clichés to find our way and to orient ourselves in society. So with this in mind we need new clichés to ensure that the future we want has a chance. Trend agencies, as well as architects and designers, are ultimately engaged with developing new clichés from the old ones and establishing them on the market. It is up to us to decide which clichés they should be. Notes:  Rieke, Timo: haptic visuals – Oberfläche und Struktur – Farbe und ihre Beziehung zur Tastwahrnehmung. Frammersbach 2008.  Kenya Hara (b.1958), Japanese graphic artist, designer and curator.
Designing spatial atmospheres – the fundamentals of designing with light
VISIB ILI TY
Lighting level Glare minimisation
Light is intangible. It is not a palpable material, yet it is a vital medium in building. The sun’s course makes shadows shift and immoveable structures seem to move. Lighting levels in a space are made up of the overlapping and permeation of endless, often reflected, broken and variegated rays of light. What we see is the result of its transformation on the surfaces and objects enclosing the space. A building lives not only from its design, but also always from its effect and interplay with light. How a person feels in particular place depends on various olfactory features. The following quote by Pablo Buonocore describes this very well: “[...] light in architecture can never be considered in isolation. In fact, it is the composition of light, colour, sounds, haptics, ambient temperature, humidity and odours that make up an overall architectural situation. Ultimately, it is always the individual, with their ephemeral emotional states and subjective feelings, who will judge a piece of architecture. The interaction of a balanced activation of all five senses and stimulation of our daily needs are crucial to the creation of interesting architecture”.  Using light and colour to design spaces Light and colour are essential design elements in planning spaces, and their use should preferably go hand in hand. In terms of colour’s effect on a space, it is crucial to work effectively with light because light’s inherent characteristics can enhance colour or, conversely, make it appear distorted and unpleasant. Some basic rules on designing with light: • Light is a medium that is not itself visible, but makes everything else visible. • With light comes shadow, half-darkness and contrast in designing space or 50
• • • •
Harmonious distribution of brightness
NC BIE L AM
Direction of light
VIS U A
objects and bringing the colours of surfaces to life. Light and colour are inextricably linked. Quality of perception and good visibility are the result of good lighting. Visual comfort is provided by lighting that is free of glare and reflective glare. Light on vertical surfaces shapes architectural spaces more strongly than light on horizontal surfaces does. A light is primarily an instrument for a specific purpose and an aesthetic object only in a subordinate sense. In illuminating and presenting a space, the qualities of the lighting should initially be considered and not just in “beautiful forms of lights” and standards. The harmonisation of space, colour and light plays a major role in the overall design. A basic prerequisite for developing an acceptable overall concept remains an analysis of usage and function of the site on the one hand and the overall
Qualities of lighting: depending on the use and appearance of a space, a light’s qualities may be variously weighted, and certain areas may be preferably influenced. Distinction between lighting design and lighting planning: purely aesthetic and lighting technology, including planning and practice-related terms used in lighting planning. The area of the light spectrum that is visible to people. Light reflected from crystals in rainbow colours.
appearance of the architecture on the other. • What is and remains important is to develop a feeling for what the core defining element of a design or a building is, so that it can be reinforced by lighting planning. The core idea of a lighting concept should never be lost sight of, especially during an integral planning process involving many participants. How does a lighting designer think?
A lighting designer or lighting planner regards light as a medium that brings the selected site, with all its objects and colourful impressions, to life in a special way. Designers create lighting atmospheres and harmonise the appearance of a place with its usage, seeing the space initially purely in terms of atmosphere, free of light fittings. They mentally put together spatial atmospheres made up of surfaces emphasised with light and areas of shadow and position lights in appropri-
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Follow spatial structures Elucidate dimensions Emphasise spatial enclosure Visual guidance Allow for a scale of brightness A play of light and shadow Dynamism of light Change of scenarios Change of mood Change of colour Lighting effects Make structures visible Allowing materials to dominate Making precious objects sparkle Dramatise effects Create visual references Increase the effect of distance Optically expand the space through reflection Radiate outwards Define spatial depths Contrast in back light Soft illumination of spaces
Direction of light Distribution of light Light colour / colour rendering Colour mixing Model simulation Visualisation Targeting of light Sun protection Conservation aspects Coordination with historic building protection Light management systems Light positions Light specification Lighting plans Calculation of lighting Special light application Detail drawing Energy budget / sustainability Bill of quantities Specification document / maintenance
Designing spatial atmospheres
Cosmic radiation Gamma radiation X-ray radiation
380 nm 3
Microwaves Infrared Thermal radiation
Radar, television and radio waves
Telephone Alternating current
780 nm 1 nm = 10-9 m
ate places as a decorative element, while also concealing technical lights in architectural elements. Lighting designers also design lighting scenarios that can be implemented in accordance with current usage and over the course of the day. Some criteria of lighting design
In developing a lighting concept, the designer sets lighting accents and selects, positions and regulates lights and their illuminants to ensure optimum vision and a pleasant atmosphere for usage requirements in the best possible way. This means not only providing light in the right place at the right time in sufficient quality and intensity, but also defining a “general sense of wellbeing” by creating a pleasant lighting atmosphere. It is also necessary to harmonise criteria such as harmonious distribution of brightness, limiting direct or reflected glare, allowing for a good perception of contrast, a directed incidence of light, the colour of lighting and not least the issue of cost effectiveness. Taking all these criteria into account is a fundamental prerequisite for good lighting (Fig. 1). Lighting design and lighting planning are terms that are not clearly distinguished in everyday language, terms that can merge during the development of a lighting concept, and must often be used together. The terms can however be very clearly distinguished under headings with very different content (Fig. 2). Certain aspects can be ascribed to an aesthetic quality, others are of a purely technical nature, but neither can be dispensed with in a successful result. Only in technically detailed planning, can all the wishes and ideas of those involved in the project that were planned in the design be taken into consideration. European standards on workplace lighting Lighting standards and guidelines usually
formulate minimum quality requirements for light for specific lighting situations. State of the art technology will be crucial in determining which minimum quality standards must be maintained. DIN EN 12 464 and the workplace guidelines must generally always be applied. Wellfounded exceptions are, however, permitted (structures listed for historic protection and areas in museums may, for example, prevent standards from being consistently applied). Understanding and using light as a material The topic of lighting is very complex because light is not just intangible, it’s often also hard to understand. The first step in skilfully working with lighting should therefore be to carefully examine the spatial context while posing the following questions: • Why is this architectural space perceived in the way that people currently perceive it? • Are its colours shown to their advantage? • Can things in the space be easily seen, or do they appear distorted? • Is the spatial atmosphere generally appealing? It may be difficult to evaluate all technical lighting factors within a very short time, but doing so trains the designer’s eye and feel for lighting atmospheres, regardless of whether the space is an office, a museum or private residential space. The interaction of light and surface colours Light and colour are inextricably linked. Coloured surfaces and material surfaces will only be shown to advantage in the “right light”. A designer who is aware of the interplay of light and surface colours can more deliberately and impressively use their appearance in the design. It is,
however, often necessary to test the desired effect in advance on a model or on a scale of 1:1, using a mock-up. This enables a designer to react to an unexpected outcome diverging from the planned design, as when a fine, translucent curtain looks heavy and dull, a large blue wall at the end of a room looks black, or a wooden cupboard door with a fine finish looks grey, for example. Visual perception
When planning a visual environment, the purely physical properties of light and the interplay between the light source, the object and the object as perceived in the current situation in terms of the psychology of perception must all be taken into account. “Light” as a physical phenomenon Usually when we talk about “light” we mean visible light. From a physical aspect, it is regarded in most contexts as the visible element of electromagnetic radiation, which consists of oscillating quanta of energy. Various complementary theories have described the properties of light. Sir Isaac Newton (1642 –1726) discovered that white light is made up of individual prismatic colours. With his corpuscular model, he proved that particles of energy (photons) travel in a straight line at the speed of light from the light source. Newton regarded light as a kind of hailstorm of tiny spheres of energy that behave like particles. His theory could not, however, explain how light permeates matter, the refraction of light in water or glass, for example. The wave model postulated by Christiaan Huygens (1629 –1695) at around the same time assumed that light is made up of electromagnetic oscillations originating in a source. This enabled him to explain what Newton’s model could not: proper51
Designing spatial atmospheres
5 6 7
1A 1B 2A 2B 3 4
Ra 90 –100 Ra 80 –89 Ra 70 –79 Ra 60 –69 Ra 40 –59 Ra 20 –39
Reflecion Absorption Transmission
ties such as the different colours of light, interference effects, diffraction and polarisation. Augustin Jean Fresnel (1788 –1827) discovered in 1822 that every colour on the spectrum has a specific wavelength. Each wavelength leaves a particular colour impression, ranging from short wave violet through blue, blue-green, green, greenish-yellow, yellow, and orange up to long-wave red. The spectrum of daylight undergoes continuous transition. The fascinating colour gradients in a rainbow reveal white light broken down into its prismatic colours. Visible light ranges from 380 to 780 nm (Fig. 3, p. 51). The human eye only perceives colours or coloured objects if the colours are in the spectrum of the light source. A red wall for example, seen in the monochromatic light of a sodium-vapour lamp (with only one amplitude in the spectrum) appears misleadingly yellow. Infrared and ultraviolet radiation, which are wavelengths just above and below the range of visible light and so are invisible to the human eye, together with visible light, makes up optical radiation. Depending on the duration of its impact, they can negatively affect materials. Living beings and objects such as fabric, leather, paper or ivory must be protected from them because it can cause them to bleach, tarnish or become brittle. When light rays hit a material they are reflected, absorbed or transmitted depending on the material, i.e. rays pass through the material.
ceive light and colour. From a physiological point of view, light acts as a sensory stimulus on the retina and activates a perception of brightness of the electromagnetic radiation that the human organ of sight can make use of. The human eye adapts very well to a wide range of light situations. Its optical part can be compared with a pinhole camera that records certain types of radiation and creates a neuronal representation on the retina, which acts as a projection surface. The retina has over 130 million photoreceptors. Most of them, the so-called rods, are responsible for our perception of brightness and of movement and are relatively insensitive to colour vision. Their overall spectral sensitivity is 507 nm. In contrast, only about seven million cones are responsible for colour vision. Their maximum overall spectral sensitivity is 555 nm. The eye’s ability to adapt to higher or lower levels of light is called ‘adaptation’. Our eyes need only a short time to get used to light when we go from a dark into a lighter space. If, however, we move from a light into a dark space, our eyes need almost half an hour to adapt.
“Light” as a physiological phenomenon In contrast to many other life forms, human beings are primarily visually oriented. More than three quarters of all the information we absorb is obtained through visual perception. Without light we cannot see. Only the human eye’s special constitution enables us to per52
The most important physical phenomena of light
Among the most important physical phenomena of light are: • Luminous colour and colour rendering • Reflection and absorption • Transmission and refraction • The direction of light and shadow modelling • Coloured light • Subtractive and additive colour mixing Luminous colour and colour rendering Luminous colour is the coloured impression of light that comes directly from a self-luminous light source. The associated colour stimulus comes from the spectral composition of this radiation. White light is
Distribution of colour rendering into levels. Various paths of light. Reflection of light rays. a Targeted reflection: light falling on a high-gloss surface is reflected in a targeted way. The angle of reflection is the same as the angle of incidence. When light hits a mirror, it reflects all rays of light. The more targeted light reflection is, the greater the perception of the surface’s shine. b diffuse reflection: when a reflection is very dispersed (or diffuse), rays of light are thrown back evenly in all directions by matt or rough surfaces. c mixed reflection: very rough surfaces reflect light rays unevenly in all directions.
good for correct perception of a “body colour”. The term “luminous colour” is used to characterise illuminants and is specified as follows: warm white (ww) < 3300 Kelvin [K] neutral white (nw) 3300 K ≤ 5000 K daylight white (tw) 5000 K ≤ Tcp A ‘black body’ is an idealised body that completely absorbs the electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength hitting it. Colour temperature, measured in Kelvin , is the temperature a ‘black body’ must have to take on a similar luminous colour. Luminous colour has a direct effect on the human central nervous system. The time of day and activity define colour temperature requirements, while colour temperature in turn influences perception. A ‘cooler’ light in the workplace for example, lends it more energy because the bluish light has a motivating effect. A warmer, dimmed light is experienced as pleasant in homes in the evening. Unless you make use of natural candlelight, this can still be best produced with a classic light or halogen light bulb. Dimming lamps or thermal radiators can reduce the colour temperature from 3,000 to 2,300 K, for example, making all the warm tones in a space appear even warmer. A blue wall would, however, appear black in this light because the blue component of the light is too greatly reduced. Colour rendering is a qualitative characteristic of light sources and refers to the best possible and even distribution of the various spectral colours. It can produce effects ranging from good colour perception through to a distorted appearance. Enabling the correct perception of light in artificial light is and remains one of the most important tasks of lighting planning. Colour impression is determined by the
Designing spatial atmospheres
interaction between the surface colour of the observed object, i.e. its spectral reflection coefficient, and the spectral composition of the light hitting it. The colour rendering index (Ra) of a light source measures the degree of conformity of a surface colour with its appearance under a specific light source. A light source with a colour rendering index of 100 optimally reproduces all colours. The lower the rating, the less well the light source renders colours (Fig. 5).
surface with white light, the wall surface absorbs the coloured components of the light, apart from the yellow. The yellow light is reflected. This reflected light reaches the eye, which perceives the yellow as the body colour of the wall surface. A body that absorbs all the light falling onto it appears black. A body illuminated with white light reflects all spectral colours equally and appears white. The energy of light is transformed into heat. A dark wall absorbs far more light than a light one (Fig. 4).
through. The colour the eye then sees the body in depends on whether it sees only the reflected part of the light in a top view or only the part of the light that has passed through the body when looking through it. In each case, the eye perceives the combined colour that results from the reflected part of the light or the light that has passed through the body. For this reason, a translucent body seen from above can have a colour different to that perceived when seen from the side (Fig. 8).
Reflected light In lighting planning, the proportion of light that is thrown back by the surfaces enclosing a space and that contributes to the illumination of space is referred to as ‘reflected light’. In calculating lighting requirements, the reflectivity of the surfaces are crucial to the overall result and to the intensity of illumination. A white ceiling reflects light almost completely; a very dark wall in contrast, reflects almost none. When choosing the colours of surfaces in a space, the degree of reflection should therefore be taken into account because the number of lights, wattage (electrical output) of their illuminants and the arrangement of lights and their adaptation to the design of the architectural structure’s ceiling all depend on it (Fig. 7).
Self-illuminating surfaces How brightly a surface shines or appears depends on two factors: the intensity of the light source and the translucence of its material. The degree of translucence is specified as the transmission factor. The higher this is, i.e. the more translucent a material is and the greater the intensity of the light from the light source is chosen to be, the more brightly the surface shines. Here too, rays of light change colour when they hit coloured materials (Fig. 10). Particularly beautiful effects can be created by refraction from polished glass pendants. This can play a major role in lighting design, and not just in chandeliers. The rays of the morning sun, still relatively low in the sky, falling on a glass ‘curtain’ made of polished glass elements mounted in a window, produce coloured light effects that spread throughout the interior. The glass refracts the sunlight and displays all the spectral colours on walls, floors and spatial elements (Fig. 4, p. 51).
To precisely determine the effect of luminous colour and test whether it will fit in with an illuminated surface, various sources of light with different colours should be sampled. This will make it much easier to decide on an appropriate light colour. The colours of light can change the appearance of buildings’ structures, from soft through to clear and angular or even enigmatically withdrawn, so samples and coloured surfaces should always be seen in the light in which they will subsequently be used. The various paths of rays of light Rays of light can cross without interfering with each other, and the path of light is reversible. When a ray of light hits a surface, it can be partly reflected, absorbed or transmitted through the surface. Reflection is the throwing back of rays of light, such as in a mirror, absorption is the assimilation of the energy of rays of light, by dark surfaces for example, and transmission is the passing of rays of light through objects, which also results in refraction (Fig. 6). Reflection and absorption When light falls on an opaque body, some of the light is reflected and some is absorbed. Our eyes see the body in the combined colour of the reflected light. If for example, you illuminate a yellow wall
Transmission and refraction When light hits the interface between two materials and can pass through, it changes direction. Light in glass, for example, also moves more slowly than it does in air. The rays of light are broken and refracted, blue light more so than red. Light falling vertically, however, does not change direction. When light falls on an opaque spatial element, part of the light is reflected, part of it is absorbed, and part of it passes
Directed light and shadow modelling Directed light throws pronounced shadows and strongly models contours, clearly emphasising forms and surface structures. Hard shadows can obscure details or accentuate them much more 53
Designing spatial atmospheres
8 slightly translucent wood veneer lampshade, entrance area of the Deutsche Werkstätten Hellerau (D) 2009, design and lighting planning: Anke Augsburg Licht 9 Coloured light colours the entire immediate area against a light sub-ground. Temporary project Schwimm-Stadion. Schneller. Höher. Weiter. by KunstRäume e.V., Leipzig (D) 2009, lighting planning: Anke Augsburg Licht 10 A translucent bluish stair covering appears light, and this effect is transferred to visitors. Stairway in the Deutsches Uhrenmuseum Glashütte (D) 2008. Exhibition design: Atelier Brückner; lighting planning: Anke Augsburg Licht 11 Coloured shadows in complementary colours, study for a degree thesis Drin im Drumherum, Burg Giebichenstein, Halle an der Saale (D) 2006 12 Shifts in colour of nine NCS colours with seven light sources, Farb-Licht Studio Zurich from the mezzanine. Result of a visual evaluation of pow-
strongly than the larger object itself. Light with directed and diffuse components produces soft shadows. Forms and surface structures can be easily seen, and there are no disruptive hard shadows. Purely diffuse light does not throw a hard shadow; experts refer to this as an ‘absence of shadow’ in the space. It makes forms and surface structures harder to distinguish and generally gives the space a more consistent look.
light, etc. are increasingly being used in public spaces. When designing with coloured light or using systems with RGB colour changes, it can be better to restrict the design to a few colours and dispense with a continuous, ongoing change of coloured light. Today’s control systems (e. g. DALI, DMX) provide a range of options and possibilities. Specific colour combinations can be programmed in advance for subsequent use.
Coloured light If a body is lit not with white, but with coloured light, our eyes also see the body in the combined colour of the light reflected from it or passing through it (Fig. 9). The shadows of coloured light each have a complementary colour (Fig. 11). Objects and coloured surfaces in a space can look completely different depending on the type of lighting or colour of light. Coloured light can be used for emphasis in designing spaces. Elements from theatrical lighting have been increasingly incorporated into architectural lighting for some time. The highlighting of certain areas of space with coloured light and its attendant shadows in complementary colours and changing projections on facades using coloured
Subtractive and additive colour mixing In subtractive colour mixing, light of various colours is filtered out by colour filters or absorbed by pigments and thus subtracted from the original light. The remaining light is superimposed to form a combined colour. All the colours in the colour wheel can be produced by mixing the three primary colours of yellow, magenta (purple) and cyan (blue-green). Mixing all three primary colours with the same intensity produces black. Colours on opposite sides of the colour wheel also produce black in subtractive mixing. Subtractive colour mixing is used in colour photography and painting. In additive colour mixing, the light of various colours is focused on one point and superimposed there.
The primary colours of additive colour mixing are red, green and blue, and colours of the same intensity produce (almost pure) white light. Types of light production
Knowledge of various kinds of light production can help designers to optimally solve lighting design issues. Lamp systems transform energy into visible light. Depending on the type of transformation, light sources can be divided into chemical (e.g. gas lamps) and electrical energy transducers. There are three kinds of light production (Fig. 13): • Temperature radiators (e.g. light bulbs and halogen light bulbs) with a continuous spectrum (complete range of the electromagnetic wave spectrum and very good colour rendering). • Discharge lamps (e.g. fluorescent lamps, energy-saving lamps, metal halogen vapour lamps and high pressure sodium vapour lamps) with a discontinuous spectrum (line or band spectrum). • Luminescent light sources (e. g. LEDs, organic light-emitting diodes) with a discontinuous spectrum. The influence of the photometric properties of different light sources on coloured surfaces
Different illuminants with their inherent light colours and colour rendering properties have a very decisive influence on the rendering of coloured surfaces. A series of experiments by the Colour Light Centre (Farb-Licht Zentrum) at the Zurich University of the Arts (Züricher Hochschule der Künste) shows this very clearly (Fig. 12). When the individual physical phenomena and contexts of light and colour are taken into account in designing spaces, they can become a basis for the creation of sophisticated interiors with pleasant atmospheres.
Designing spatial atmospheres
der-coated metal plates. The vertical row on the left indicates the reference colour according to the NCS system for each evaluated colour. The divergence under the influence of the light sources was in each case visually evaluated by two people at the same time and compared with the NCS colours under daylight (about 5,000 – 6,000 K). The colours change depending on the light source they are lit with. For the experiment, the cold light sources were at 110 lx /5000 K and the warm light sources, including halogen adjusted to 110 lx/2800 K. The LEDs were LED lines WBA (White, Blue, Amber) and LED modules RGBA (Red, Green, Blue, Amber). The metal plates were mounted at a distance of 90 cm from the light source, and the angle of incidence of the light was 45°. 13 Colour rendering spectra (a, b = continuous; c – f = discontinuous; relative intensity in terms of the luminous flux of the lamp)
Fluorescence LED-WBA cold cold
S 1502-G50Y S 0530-R40B S 0510-R30B S 1020-Y10R
S 0502-G50Y S 0540-R30B S 0510-R30B S 0520-Y10R
S 0540-B10G S 2040-R60B S 0540-R90B S 2020-B70G S 0520-R60B S 1040-R90B
S 2060-R80B S 3050-R60B S 2060-R70B S 2040-R50B S 2050-R50B S 2050-R60B
S 1575-R10B S 0550-R
Fluorescence LED-WBA warm warm
S 0540-R30B S 1060-R10B S 1080-Y80R
12 Daylight (high proportion of blue) Relative Intensity
Light bulb (high proportion of red) 1,0 0,8 0,6 0,4 0,2
1,0 0,8 0,6 0,4 0,2
0,0 400 450
500 550 600 650 700 750 Wavelength [nm]
400 450 b
Fluorescent lamp (warm white 3000 K, Ra = 66) Relative Intensity
Fluorescent lamp (warm white 3000 K, Ra = 83) 1,0 0,8 0,6 0,4 0,2
1,0 0,8 0,6 0,4 0,2
0,0 400 450
500 550 600 650 700 750 Wavelength [nm]
400 450 d
1,0 0,8 0,6 0,4
500 550 600 650 700 750 Wavelength [nm]
LED (warm white 3000 K, Ra = 85) Relative Intensity
LED (warm white 3000 K, Ra = 66)
1,0 0,8 0,6 0,4 0,2
0,0 400 450
500 550 600 650 700 750 Wavelength [nm]
500 550 600 650 700 750 Wavelength [nm]
400 450 f
500 550 600 650 700 750 Wavelength [nm]
Designing spatial atmospheres
Developing a lighting concept Just as an architect, given a certain predetermined spatial structure, optimises the sequence of spaces and the arrangement of floor space for people inhabiting the space with regard to the way they move through it, so a lighting designer can use light to make the atmosphere in a space appear cheerful or sophisticated. A lighting concept can completely change the effect of a (coloured) space. Successful lighting planning can create a desired spatial atmosphere or imply transitions between various spatial atmospheres. Good lighting design is oriented towards the specific requirements of a place and the wishes of the people moving through it. A step by step approach, beginning with an analysis and a definition of quality and moving on to stipulate individual objectives, has proven its worth in practice. Analysis of the site and its usage
Planning usually begins with a stipulation of requirements and of the spatial context, which can vary greatly depending on the planning brief. Depending on the type of building and its usage, various approaches may be advisable. Is the big picture or a focus on details more important? Will the focus be on the building’s architecture or on the overall impression of the space, or rather on smaller objects in the space? If valuable exhibits, whose details play a vital role, are to be presented, these should be emphasised and the architectural space placed somewhat into the background. The wishes of project participants What is the lighting planning task, considering the requirements of its subsequent use? In answering this question, the ideas of the client and users, the architect and the interior designer must all be taken into account. 56
Analysis of the incidence of daylight In order to estimate the need for artificial light, an individual analysis of the incidence of daylight should be carried out. How much do the sun’s course, the weather and the season change the space and its colours throughout the day? How is the building/the space aligned along the points of the compass? From which direction does light fall into the building? Are skylights or is indirect light (e.g. from sheds) available or desired? Balancing daylight and artificial light To harmoniously reconcile daylight and artificial light in lighting planning, the space’s pure daylight situation should first be considered. It provides initial information on the lighting atmosphere in the space. The question of when the space is used and for what purposes is also relevant to planning. Can direct sunlight penetrate into the depths of the space, or is the interior atmosphere shaped by pure northern light? Between these two extremes lie various nuances, and in most cases the lighting situation is a mixed one. Daylight has a continuous colour spectrum (see “›Light‹ as a physical phenomenon”, p. 51f.), which is why we find it so pleasant. Apart from early in the morning or in the evening, daylight tends to appear cool, ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 K. Coloured surfaces appear undistorted, but in “cooler” tones. Bluish colours can appear much more magnificent by day than reddish ones (Fig. 14). Design quality Depending on the point in time at which a lighting planner is involved in the design planning by an architect or interior designer, there may be a wide range of potential for the planned spatial atmosphere: What influence on the design and on colour and spatial design with light
can still be exercised? Not regarding lighting as an added extra, but integrating it into the architecture is often a worthwhile approach. It may be in some cases indispensable to intervene in the building’s structure, e.g. by building light coves, edges and other recesses so as to install hidden light fixtures. The selection of construction materials and surface colours is also crucial (see “The interaction of light and surface colours”, p. 51ff.). Using light to aid orientation Some types of building need to be easy for visitors to orientate themselves in. This can be influenced by lighting alone (e. g. vertical emphasis is more powerful than horizontal) and by illuminated guidance and orientation systems. Arranging lighting scenarios As in a composition, programming lighting scenarios requires a delicate synchronisation with the time of day and the various requirements of users, allowing very deliberate changes to the spatial atmosphere. The lighting designer analyses how many different lighting scenarios will be appropriate. The lighting design approach
For a design, a “lighting design approach” is first required, i.e. a search for an individual design concept using light. This involves an attempt to freely imagine one or more suitable lighting atmospheres and consider how these design concepts could present the space in all its colours to best possible effect, solely using light. A design’s core idea constitutes the quality of good lighting planning. A lighting design approach therefore incorporates the idea of a desired spatial atmosphere or a transition between several different spatial atmospheres. The development of a spatial design by
Designing spatial atmospheres
architects should therefore preferably be combined with colour and lighting design from the outset, which usually results in a high degree of sustainability and overall long term satisfaction. Identifying focal points of lighting
Focal points of lighting must be identified in accordance with the arrangement of the space: • Which areas are to be emphasised with light, and which areas require a very special lighting situation? • Is a vertical or horizontal emphasis in this area appropriate or even indispensable? • Where and how can the basic ambient lighting be combined with lighting accents? • How is the space divided into lighter and darker and very colourful and neutral areas? • Where would a great deal of reflected light be expected that would additionally illuminate the space? This preliminary planning is normally still general in character (Fig. 16 a, p. 58). Determining the positions of lights
If the lighting design approach is to be implemented as precisely as possible, technical lights must be precisely assigned to focal points of light in their respective form (broad or soft, diffuse or concentrated, accentuated light or highlights, etc.). How surfaces appear is always dependent upon the positioning of light sources and the observer’s angle of vision. The same surface can look completely different if the light source’s angle is changed only slightly, i.e. the right positioning of lights determines the appearance of surfaces in terms of their colour, lustre and structure (Fig. 15 a). The “museum angle” of 30° is regarded
14 A comparison of the daylight and artificial light situation, Schlosskirche in Augustusburg (D) 2011, lighting planning: Anke Augsburg Licht a under daylight, altarpiece as a significant work of art is emphasised with neutral white light b Schlosskirche in Augustusburg in the evening, during the “blue hour” of twilight, emphasised with dimmed, warm artificial light 15 Paintings in various lighting situations a Lateral light: unpleasant reflected glare b Illumination at the »museum angle« of 30°: details and colours can be easily seen.
as a fairly ideal angle for lighting paintings, for example. For other applications too, this angle can be a good way of providing vertical emphasis. If lights are positioned at this angle, i.e. at the right distance from the wall of 1:3 (with height of the room divided by three being the distance of the lights from the walls), unpleasant glare reflected from smooth or shiny surfaces can be eliminated, and details and colours can be seen without any restrictions (Fig. 15 b). If exhibits are lit frontally, fine details remain hidden from the eye of an observer. If, however, the lighting is in the right position, colours appear brighter, and objects appear more vivid. There are a number of intermediate stages between the use of spotlights close to objects and purely diffuse light on wall surfaces further away. A comparison of two extremes clearly shows how variously the appearance of surfaces can be influenced. To produce highlights, light sources are placed close to the surface with tightly focused light, which shows surface structures to very good effect. Only the interplay between light and shadow highlights fine structures that would not be visible in diffuse light from a distance. There are, however, also cases in which highlights may unpleasantly emphasise irregularities. In such cases, a soft, diffuse light would be advisable and is usually used in historic buildings, where the view of fine murals, for example, should not be obscured by shadowy imperfections (Fig. 16 b).
The direction and distribution of light Analysing the following issues and clarifying the following points will help to initially determine a light’s required photometric properties and limit the huge selection of 15 b 57
Designing spatial atmospheres
lights in a first step, before the illuminant is then chosen in a second step. • Where should the centre of the light beam be (seen horizontally and vertically)? • How should light fittings distribute the light (ranging from narrowly to broadly)? • What intensity should the light have (constant or fluctuating)? • Should coloured light also be used, i. e., is coloured light desirable or not really appropriate? Selecting lights and illuminants from a photometric aspect
After a comprehensive analysis and planning of a lighting situation, suitable lights can then be considered, with a distinction made between purely technical and purely decorative lights. Lights should be selected not only on account of their design, but with a primary focus on their “inner values”. In planning lighting systems, parameters such as those below are decisive: • the luminous flux: a lamp’s light output, measured in lumen (lm), • luminous intensity: the part of the luminous flux that sends out rays in a certain direction, measured in candela (cd), • illuminance: the level of illumination on a surface, measured in lux (lx), • light density: the impression of brightness, perceived by the eye, of an illuminated or self-lighting surface, measured in cd/m2. The photometric properties of lights should precisely match their designated applications. The reflector should be designed so that light can be directed with as little loss as possible (or high luminaire efficiency). Standard products have been developed for conventional applications, or there is always the option of having a special light made for a specific application. 58
Reducing glare from lights is more or less important in all areas. Glare can be minimised by correctly positioning lights in respect of observers, and additional attachments can also be added, which will, however, reduce the angle at which the light falls and diminish luminous intensity. Standard lighting calculation programs (Relux, Dialux) can be used to concretely calculate the UGR value. Selection of lights, light functions and illuminants The section on the “Interaction of light and surface colours” (see p. 51ff.) noted that our perception of light is particularly marred when illuminants with less effective colour rendering properties, i. e. with gaps in the spectrum, are used. Fluorescent lamp light and innovative LED lights often produce unsatisfactory results, even though they are available with very good colour rendering and usually produce pleasant lighting situations. Those who are not experts find it particularly difficult to differentiate these quality characteristics. The market is flooded with “cheap products”, so it is a broad field, even for experts, and one that must be repeatedly re-examined, especially when LED technology is used. The aim should always be to use illuminants with very good colour rendering properties, although there are applications for which a lower colour rendering index is also acceptable. Manufacturers’ catalogues sometimes offer features such as “higher Ra available on request”, which should be taken advantage of. Figure 18 provides an overview of illuminants, including details on their light yield, life span, colour rendering, electric ballast technology and common applications.
16 Main staircase of the Landgericht (state court), Halle an der Saale (D) 2012, lighting planning: Anke Augsburg Licht a Sketched plan of focal points of light b Combined use of diffuse light on wall murals and accented light on stairs 17 Change from a daylight to a night scenario, LVB-Service Center, Leipzig (D) 2012, interior design: Steinert und Bitterling; lighting planning: Anke Augsburg Licht a Daylight scenario b Night scenario 18 Comparison of illuminants
Designing spatial atmospheres
b Planning and programming lighting scenarios
Lighting planners combine lights into various switching groups, but these should not be confused with lighting scenarios. Lighting scenarios are usage-related, ‘mood-altering’ pre-programmed settings. Different lighting ‘moods’ for the same space can be created out of the interplay of selected lights or groups of lights with coordinated luminous intensity. They are switched on and off, dimmed and the colours of their light are, where possible, regulated or coordinated in terms of colour dynamics and chronological rhythms and
stored for programming. Different lighting moods may be required for different activities and times of day in the same place. Various lighting scenarios can positively manipulate the architectural and atmospheric effects of interiors. The space becomes lighter or darker and is divided in various ways, certain areas are emphasised, coloured areas are emphasised or recede into the background and their colours change, objects in a space can emerge out of the shadows or retreat into darker zones. Pre-programmed lighting scenarios can be easily called up with
Light yield [lm/W]
Typical lifespan [h]
All-purpose light bulb
Halogen light bulb
Fluorescent lamp with low loss electric balance
discontinuous ww, nw, tw
up to 100
12,000 and more
up to 70
High-pressure mercury vapour lamp
Colour rendering Ra
the press of a button thanks to modern technology. The change is often from cooler light colours during the day to warmer tones in the evening. It is also always worth considering whether there should also be a reduced scenario for night time (Fig. 17).
Note:  Buonocore, Pablo: Die Bedeutung des Tageslichts im Wandel der Zeit. In: DETAIL 04/2004, p. 301
Electric ballast and controllability
Applications / Remarks
Only for special applications in small output situations such as in ovens
60 – 90
Low-loss electric ballast not dimmable
For outdoor temperatures
discontinuous ww, nw, tw
60 – 90
Electric ballast dimmable from 3 –100 %
Generally an economic form of lighting in all areas
discontinuous ww, nw, tw
60 – 90
Integrated and external electric ballast Some are dimmable to a certain extent
Accentuating, small spaces
discontinuous nw, tw
Electric ballast not dimmable
Too inefficient and inferior colour rendering, can no longer be used
Halogen metal vapour and high-pressure lamp
discontinuous ww, nw, tw
60 – 90
Electric ballast Ignitor not dimmable
For focused lighting and large spaces /halls
High-pressure sodium lamp
discontinuous nw, tw
60 – 90
Electric ballast Ignitor not dimmable
For focused lighting and large spaces/halls, not suitable everywhere due to the light’s yellow colour
LED (high-performance system)
up to 100
discontinuous ww, nw, tw
60 – 90
Electric ballast, easy to switch and dim
For normal areas
discontinuous ww, nw, tw
60 – 80
Electric ballast, easy to switch and dim
Still too expensive
Fluorescent lamp with electric ballast Compact fluorescent lamp (energy-saving lamp) with electric ballast
18 ww = warm white
nw = neutral white
dw = daylight white
Colour in the city – colour in the countryside Consultation and planning instruments for colour in public spaces Lino Sibillano, Stefanie Wettstein
Designing, planning and using colour in urban and rural contexts has never been as challenging and demanding as it is today. The history of colour in architecture is also a history of technology and the skilled trades, and colour has been determined at least as much by the available materials and technical possibilities as by the specific taste of a period. Until the early 20th century, only a small range of materials and colours was available for designing facades and economic factors further restricted the range of colours used in everyday architecture. A traditional use of colour and materials handed down from generation to generation also contributed to continuity in the use of colour in architecture. Unwritten rules governed the use of public space and peoples’ behaviour in it, while social and economic reasons meant that architectural and chromatic extravagance was reserved for a small privileged class. Until well into the 20th century, even without widespread regimentation, these technical, economic and social factors led to consistent and harmonious colouring in cities and villages. These colour schemes were also usually determined by the colours of local materials.
Colour portrait of Augustinergasse, Zurich (see photograph on the left of a row of houses in Augustinergasse).
technical and manual trade skills and a sensitivity to colour have often not been able to keep pace with the expansion of the colour palette. A glance at the curricula for apprentices and architecture students shows that classes on colour design are usually only marginal. As a result, colour is frequently planned with the help of digital tools and product-specific collections or with standardised colour charts such as NCS and RAL. Decisions on colour are often made within pre-determined chromatic worlds with the colours specific to them, disconnected from their immediate colour context, so issues concerning materials and their application by tradespeople recede into the background.
Now the technical possibilities have been immensely expanded and an almost endless range of colours is available for designing facades. People are also confronted with a more liberal and complex social and economic reality, one defined by global markets, trends, and an intense desire for individuality. As a result, they often lose sight of the broader context of community and local colour traditions. The use of colour in architecture is no longer self-regulating in today’s world.
Paradoxically, we are now facing an expansion of the colour palette along with a strong tendency to standardise chromophoric products. The trend is also accompanied by a decline in tradespeople’s skills. This problem is now particularly prevalent in the renovations of old buildings to improve energy efficiency. During such projects, colours, materials and surface structures typical of a certain era often disappear behind standardised exterior insulation finishing systems, which usually use a thin layer of organic-based plaster. The expansion of the colour palette seems to have replaced variety in materials, surface structures and processing techniques. More recently, this has often led to discrepancies between architectural language, material and colour. Historic characteristics are disappearing and living space, whether urban or rural, threatens to lose in aesthetic diversity and heterogeneity what it gains in colourful variety.
Other factors also make a high-quality use of colour more difficult. In particular,
Most of the responsibility for the colour culture in public spaces currently lies
with the public authorities. They need objective principles and overarching urban development colour strategies in order to be able to make sound, sustainable decisions and to prevent discussions on colour held during planning permission procedures from becoming emotional and government decisions from being perceived as arbitrary. Measures for promoting high-quality decisions on colour
The following measures could be taken by the public authorities to improve the quality of the use of colour in public space: Provision of planning fundamentals and tools A basic prerequisite for making sophisticated and context-based decisions on colour is the existence of site-specific studies on colour and colour strategies and tools such as colour charts, colour swatches, material samples and guidelines, which support the implementation of such decisions. Raising people’s awareness of colour A further prerequisite for a positive development of colour use in public spaces is an ongoing and effective effort to raise people’s awareness of the issue. Exhibitions, lectures, brochures and tours help residents to understand the topic and reflect their immediate living space, making it possible to use colour to help people identify with their environment and strengthening citizens’ feelings of responsibility for public space. Involving colour specialists Another decisive factor for a sophisticated and high-quality use of colour and materials is the involvement of appropriately trained experts in decision-making bodies and planning teams. 61
Colour in the city – colour in the countryside
Paint samples taken from various villages and regions formed the starting point for all of the colour studies by the Haus der Farbe. The colours were then mixed in a studio, tested on site, and corrected and amended as necessary. Based on the colours identified and on further research, customised tools and planning instruments such as colour maps, colour swatches and collections of samples adapted to individual needs and goals were created.
Setting up a specialist body To enable a city or local authority to offer clients, planners and tradespeople specific consultation and support, it may be appropriate to set up a specialist regional body for colour in public space. This should operate as a low-threshold, independent point of contact. As well as providing consultation, it could organise activities designed for experts and the wider public, thus ensuring sustainable and continuing discourse on the topic of colour in construction. This type of body could also produce information material and tools and disseminate them. A colour culture as a part of overall social responsibility
It is advisable to recognise a “colour culture” and to place its high-quality maintenance and further development in a wider social context so that measures take effect sustainably and in a sophisticated way. A broadly supported promotion of a colour culture cannot be achieved by the public authorities alone. It requires the various actors involved in construction to cooperate and to share responsibility within the scope of their skills and abilities. Professional organisations However, it is not only sensitive clients and prudent public authorities that are needed to ensure a high-quality colour design of our living space; above all, trained colour design experts and experienced tradespeople who can use their skills professionally in implementing designs are also required. Imparting the necessary expertise and inspiring and maintaining passion is the task of basic and advanced vocational training in the construction sector. Responsibility for this lies largely with the various professional organisations, which are called on to provide theoretical and practical knowledge 62
independent of the materials offered on the market. Ongoing training also offers tradespeople and planners the opportunity to extend their knowledge of general and colour-specific design aspects and to specialise in certain areas. Initial steps in this direction have been taken with the new skilled-trade-designer and colour-designer training courses. All that remains is to anchor the topic of colour design even more strongly in professional building practice. Tradespeople Expert tradespeople with a feel for design are indispensable in implementing sophisticated colour concepts. They should have a good command of the use of modern and traditional materials and techniques, and know all about the properties of individual materials. They also need to have a good general feel for colour, outstanding knowledge of colour culture, and the willingness to find individual solutions. At the same time, they should insist on producing large-scale samples, which are not only useful for consultations with clients but also for adapting colour shades precisely and clarifying technical issues. Because knowledge drawn from experience is so important in the skilled trades, it is essential to hand on trades and craft knowledge and skills in companies and on building sites in order to maintain a high-level culture of craftsmanship. Every experienced tradesperson should actively support and encourage the next generation. Colour designers and architects Colour designers and architects must develop careful, context-based colour designs. Colour-planning instruments, such as those available to the public authorities and industry, merely provide
Colour in the city – colour in the countryside
Creation of the Zurich colour swatches: Around 20 students from the Höhere Fachschule für Farbgestaltung recorded the spectrum of facade colours in Zurich. In the various quarters of the city, they took samples of over 800 facade colours and mixed them in the studio. These were then reduced to 115 colours, which were subsequently used to comprehensively record and statistically evaluate the facades’ colours. 3
starting points for individual research and designs. Functioning communication between the public authorities, planners and tradespeople involved in construction remains a vital requirement for optimal, situation-based solutions that will be satisfactory in both design and technical terms.
ent and responsible participants. This is not primarily about preventing mistakes in using colour or regimenting its use, but rather about facilitating high-quality decisions on colour. Various, user-specific instruments can be developed to achieve this.
Industry Industry also bears a social responsibility and must offer a range of products that make it possible to create aesthetically sophisticated and technically sustainable colour designs and allow for high-quality care of historic buildings and the preservation of traditional trades and craft techniques. This entails a transparent and clear statement of the composition of the available materials on the part of industry, and thus acknowledgement of planners and tradespeople as skilled and independent partners. Profound knowledge of the materials used is a basic prerequisite for careful, sustainable implementation of a colour design by tradespeople.
In some cities, specialist organisations dealing with colour in the city have indeed been set up to support the public authorities in formulating site-specific colour strategies and developing customised planning and consultation instruments.
Building owners Building owners bear part of the responsibility for public space and building culture. It is all the more important that they take on this responsibility when they repaint and design facades. Clients should take the time to find out about the properties, qualities and context of their building and aim to use colour in a careful, professional way by obtaining advice from the public authorities and experts. In choosing materials and techniques, they should also consult skilled tradespeople and demand sustainable implementation that will be a source of pleasure for many years to come. Careful quality control is thus an obligation for everyone responsible for a project, while also offering all those involved support and scope to work as independ-
In contrast to similar organisations, the body based at the Haus der Farbe (“House of Colour”), an independent colour design centre in Zurich, does not seek to regulate the use of colour in the form of the usual colour guidelines, but is instead committed to raising wider social awareness and improving professional skills. It does not try to lay down regulations or provide ready-made recipes; instead, it offers solid and site-specific planning basics that will be sustainably useful in making sophisticated decisions on colour and in practical discussions. This approach promotes public discourse on the topic and reveals the potential of careful colour planning. Two projects carried out by the Haus der Farbe are described below and show how such planning and consultation instruments can be developed and implemented for an urban as well as a rural and a historic context. The city as a colour space A study of colour in the city of Zurich The Farbraum Stadt (Colour-Space-City) project was initiated in 2005 by the Baukollegium (building advisory commission) of the City of Zurich, a board of international experts that advises the Amt für
Städtebau (Department of Urban Development) . The Baukollegium expressed a desire for solid fundamentals that would make it possible to evaluate decisions on colour as objectively and contextually as possible. Convinced that the colours of a space as complex and dynamic as that of a major city cannot be safeguarded in all their qualities by standardisation in the form of regulations on colour made at a certain time, the City of Zurich chose not to develop a Plan Couleur. Instead, it decided to offer specific colour-planning tools, to develop criteria and to raise people’s awareness, using an approach that also fits in with Switzerland’s political culture of direct democracy. This was a new, model approach that focused less on providing an ideal image or historic colours than on basing the discourse on the city’s current buildings, with all their strengths and weaknesses. The Baukollegium proposed a detailed investigation of all Zurich’s colours in cooperation with the Haus der Farbe, which led the study and carried it out with an interdisciplinary team of experts from the fields of the humanities, architecture, colour design, art and the skilled trades . Specific methods and tools first had to be developed for this novel undertaking in order to make it possible to produce a sophisticated survey and representation of Zurich’s colour space. Various instruments such as taking paint samples at various penetration depths, other samples, photographs, videos, descriptions and surveys were used to do this (Fig. 3). To record the many factors that shape a city’s colour space, the study explored the issues from six different, complementary points of view. 63
Colour in the city – colour in the countryside
Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH: The three elements in Box ZRH (book, map, 96 colour portraits) are designed as supplementary planning and consulting instruments to help people make decisions on colours in urban space in general and in Zurich in particular. Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH, map: In a comprehensive survey of the colours of architectural elements, the colours and materials of facades and the colours of sun protection were recorded. The map shows the facade colours of the some 41,000 buildings surveyed in the City of Zurich. Each coloured point stands for a building and is shown in proportion to its size. Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH: Graphic representation of the basic colouring (66 % of all buildings) in the city of Zurich, showing the main colours (left-hand side of the book, first column) and secondary col-
Looking at the city: a colour and material profile of the city of Zurich and its neighbourhoods
The first step involved recording the colours (a main and a secondary colour) and materials of the facades of every single building in Zurich. The challenge here was to develop a survey instrument that would allow the researchers to make statistical statements without detracting from the city’s chromatic diversity. To do this, a specific set of colour swatches was developed for the city. It contains a reduced number of colours but allows each facade colour to be assigned to one of these colours (Fig. 3, p. 63). The 115 colours in the city’s colour swatches, which merely served as a survey instrument, were grouped into twelve families: yellow, orange, red, pink / purple, blue, green, earthy green, ochre, beige, brown, grey and white. Each of the 115 colours was also assigned qualities
ours (right-hand side of the book, first column). The basic range of main colours is made up of just 21 colours in the Zurich colour swatch, with the achromatic colour families of beige (35 %), white (23 %) and grey (10 %) most strongly represented. Only 12 % of Zurich’s buildings have a colourful facade. The basic colouring of the secondary colours (right-hand side of the book) is comprised of 25 colours from the Zurich colour swatches. The secondary colours are also dominated by the achromatic colour families of grey (39 %), beige (15 %) and brown (13 %). Compared with the main colours, the secondary colours are therefore not more colourful, as one would expect, but rather darker, with more greys and browns. The photograph also shows the basic colours of the colourful and striking main and secondary colours.
such as distinctiveness, colourfulness and lightness. These were classified on an architecture-specific scale based on experience. This classification of the 115 colours makes it possible to formulate statements on the qualities of colours that are distinct from an individual colour, but are also characteristic of the appearance of urban spaces. Data was gathered on around 41,000 buildings, with the colour and materials of the main and secondary colour of the facades, the colour and type of sun protection, the roof form (gable or flat roof) and the number of storeys recorded. A connection between the database and the City of Zurich’s geographic information system (GIS) made it possible to link the colour data with additional data on buildings such as the year they were built, the year they were renovated, their usage and floor size. This comprehensive data set formed the basis for identifying characteristic colour identities and
describing and visualising sophisticated colour profiles. One possible way of analysing this data set is with a coloured map of the city of Zurich (Fig. 5). The publication resulting from the study, Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH (Fig. 4) , goes into more detail and comments on the following main aspects: • Basic colours of the City of Zurich (main and secondary colours) (Fig. 6) • Colours and types of sun protection (shutters, blinds) • Colour combinations (main colour / secondary colour, main colour /sun protection, main colour / secondary colour / sun protection) • Colour and the urban context (street, square, housing estate, green space) • Colour and building usage (residential, administration, commercial, industrial and commercial buildings, bar /café / restaurant) • Neighbourhood colours (basic colour, colour spectrum, light-coloured buildings, colourful buildings, striking buildings, material profiles) • The development of colour and materials in the 20th century Looking at individual buildings: colour portraits of buildings with especially valuable colour designs
Complementing this comprehensive recording of data on buildings, which takes the urban development scale into account, the researchers then turned their attention to individual buildings. This focus made it possible to identify and illustrate individual quality criteria for designing building surfaces, using selected buildings as examples. The team developed an abstract yet expressive method of representation that enabled it to show not only a building’s colour combination but also its colour
Colour in the city – colour in the countryside
composition at a glance and to compare them with those of other buildings. Over 100 hand-painted colour portraits were produced, each of which, based on paint samples taken carefully on site, reproduce all the colours of the building’s exterior. A DIN A4-sized card was created for each building or building complex. These cards show the original colour of the building or group of buildings with proportionally distributed areas of colour. In addition to their high-quality use of colour, other important colour design properties were crucial in the selection of buildings for the colour portraits. The buildings were assigned to one or more of the following groups: dark buildings, colourful buildings, period colours, ensemble quality, urban development quality, material quality, unobtrusive beauty, growing old gracefully and successful renovation. Individual essays in the book discuss these aspects, showing the selected buildings and their colour portraits and allowing readers to explore individual topics in greater detail. Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH includes 96 portraits in the form of high-quality cards produced using seven-colour printing (Fig. 7, p. 66). On the back of each card is a photograph, a description of the building, and an evaluation of its colour and material design (Fig. 8, p. 66). A key provides information on the materials used in the property’s main facade colours, so that its material composition is reproduced alongside its colour combination. The handy cards serve as a tool and a source of inspiration for making detailed decisions on colour and for choosing colour combinations. They also invite people to discover the objects presented in situ and more generally to stroll through the city’s streets with a heightened awareness of the colours, materials and surface qualities around them.
The tactile gaze: a collection of surface samples
Recognising that the choice of materials has a major influence on a colour’s impact and quality and partly determines the characteristics of a colour space, a materials workshop was set up as part of the Farbraum Stadt project in the Haus der Farbe. Design-oriented materials research is carried out in this workshop, and the findings generated go into the compilation of a collection of samples of architectural surfaces, which is part of the Oberflächengestaltung am Bau (Building Surface Design) research project. The creation of surfaces as a form of interaction between various technical, skilled trades, phenomenological, design and aesthetic aspects was investigated and presented in the project. Inspiring samples and compact basic information in the form of a digital handbook and a mobile workshop aim to facilitate sophisticated design and the efficient creation of surfaces and to
bridge gaps in education and training in the future. The period gaze: a set of period colour swatches of 100 20th century architectural colours
Starting with the colour portraits of Zurich’s buildings, which have a historic colour scheme, the project explored and characterised the colours typical of various periods. The essay Farbepochen der Architektur im 20. Jahrhundert [“Colour Eras of 20th Century Architecture”]  describes and analyses typical period colours and discusses them in their architectural and cultural-historical context. To support the practical work, 100 typical period colours were compiled in a set of NCS colour swatches in cooperation with the Schweizerische Zentralstelle für Baurationalisierung – CRB (Swiss Research Centre for Rationalisation in Building and Civil Engineering) and its integrated NCS Colour Centre. Since each selected colour comes from a specific colour portrait
Colour in the city – colour in the countryside
in Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH, it can also be seen in the context of the respective colour combination and material composition (Fig. 9). The intuitive gaze: a survey of passers-by about colour
Every city has its own colour image and is associated with certain colours. In a survey of passers-by, Zurich’s colour image in the minds of its inhabitants was identified and the question of which elements are essential in the intuitive development of this colour image was explored. The survey results were then compared with the statistical figures from the comprehensive survey in order to analyse the differences and similarities between the “real” and imagined colour image. Interestingly, most of those surveyed associated Zurich with blue, the colour of its coat of arms, characteristic trams and Lake Zurich. In second place was green, the colour of the parks and surrounding forests. Grey was the third colour mentioned as being typical of Zurich, so the city’s colour image is shaped less by its architecture than by other characteristic identifying features. In fact, the colour of Zurich’s architecture is not mainly grey, as survey respondents assumed, but beige. The survey also revealed that there is little awareness among the population of the colours of architecture and that desires for colour tend to be expressed in emotional and intuitive terms. The moving gaze: videos of open spaces, mobile and dynamic colour elements
As mentioned at the outset and as the surveys showed, the colours of urban spaces are not only determined by architectural structures. The analysis and discussion of static colour elements was therefore complemented with another 66
investigative method in the form of documentary and artistic video recordings . The video material illustrates the colour elements that help to shape the atmosphere and mood of urban spaces. Selected spaces such as green spaces, streets and squares and their specific colours were filmed. Mobile, temporary colour interventions, such as traffic, people and advertising, as well as natural factors such as weather, seasons and times of day, were also recorded. This moving image material can be read as an extension of the statistical data, enabling readers to experience urban space as a complex colour space. Three short videos focus on the colours grey, blue and green, which passers-by in the survey chose as the three colours typical of Zurich. The videos are thus also a tongue-in-cheek comment on the colour image of the city on the River Limmat. The research project’s six perspectives, as described above, were designed to be complementary and to comment on means of perception and presentation. Taken as a whole, they provide the most sophisticated and diverse image possible of the city as a colour space. Results from the individual areas thus form a coherent overall set of data and tools that should always be read and applied in this overall context. Only in this way can sophisticated and prudent decisions on colour be made that take into account the complexity of colour as a phenomenon in urban space and ensure lively, diverse and high-quality urban design. To enable all decision-makers to make use of the fundamental tools and instruments developed by the project in a sophisticated and high-quality way, quality criteria were formulated to accompany the tools and possible strategies and measures for their implementation were
indicated. To reach a broad public, the publication of Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH was accompanied by an exhibition. Ten quality criteria for making decisions on colour in Zurich Based on the strengths and weaknesses of Zurich’s colour space identified in the study described above, ten quality criteria were formulated to provide a basis for future decisions on colour in Zurich: • The fundamental aim must be to use colour and materials in a more professional and sophisticated way that is based on design expertise and craftsmanship. • Every new colour scheme should help to maintain or increase the existing quality of colours in the city. • Colour design should serve as a means of urban development planning in order to lend structure to and upgrade urban space. • The existing colour and material characteristics of quarters or individual areas should be reinforced so that colour and material can be used to form a positive identity. • Colours should emphasise the affiliation of individual neighbourhoods and their inhabitants with the city as a whole and counteract discrimination against and exclusion of social groups. • High-quality colours and materials specific to certain periods should largely be preserved because they help to make urban development visible and promote the aesthetic diversity of urban space. • The upgrading of Zurich’s colour space should not be sought in increased colourfulness or insistence on the use of new materials, but rather in the appreciation and optimising of existing colours. The greatest possible diversity and sophistication of colour combinations and surface structures should
Colour in the city – colour in the countryside
Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH, colour portraits: Handpainted colour portraits of selected buildings show their overall colour combination. Ninety-six colour portraits (high-quality seven-colour prints) are included with the book in the form of loose colour maps. The photograph shows the colour portrait for the Ahorn school building, which was chosen to illustrate the topics of ensemble quality and successful renovation. The right half of the picture shows the old building by Albert Heinrich Steiner (1946 –1948), while the left half of the picture shows the colours of the
therefore be achieved within the chromatic world of the current basic colouring and based on existing materials, predominately render. A masterly interplay of subtle shades could become a hallmark of the city of Zurich in the future. • Colours that stand out from the city’s basic colouring have a special presence in urban space, so their use should be carefully planned in a way that is appropriate for urban development. When very colourful or striking colours are planned, a professional, especially careful use of them must be demanded and encouraged. • As well as appropriate colour choices, high-quality materials and careful use of them by skilled tradespeople should be ensured. The ageing and maintenance of the materials and techniques used should be discussed and assessed from the outset. • Advisory authorities should make individual decisions based on the specific situation and on the findings and quality criteria produced in the project, using the tools developed. They should also allow leeway for new developments and experiments. These must be specifically positioned in urban space in a way that will benefit as many people as possible. Colour in the country A study on colour culture in Thurgau The rural canton of Thurgau in eastern Switzerland derives its identity primarily from the beauty of its sparsely populated cultivated landscape and its large number of historic buildings, although like many rural regions, it is undergoing major changes. Extensive building on the outskirts of towns and villages and in town centres is shifting the balance between modern and traditional buildings and increasingly impacting on the landscape.
annex by Patrick Gmür Architekten (1999). Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH, reverse side of the colour portraits: A key on the back of the map shows which part of the building and what material the colours represent. Each map also includes a photograph, a description of the building and an appraisal of its colour design. Farbraum Stadt, period swatches: The NCS swatches developed in this project contain 100 architectural colours typical of the period from 1900 to 2010 and show the colours typical of individual decades of the 20th century. 9
Important regional qualities of the building culture, which form part of the area’s identity, are in danger of being lost. The historic building conservation authorities in Thurgau recognised that the use of colour and materials plays a key role in this development and that fundamental colour-specific planning and consultation information are needed in order to maintain the images of towns and villages. To safeguard this for the future, they commissioned a study on Thurgau’s colour culture in 2012 that was designed to serve communities in the canton as a basis and a stimulus for developing further planning and consulting instruments . The study’s overarching goal was to show ways in which the quality of colour and materials used in architecture could be maintained and further developed, taking regional and historic particularities into account. To ensure sufficient penetration and variety in the study, the researchers decided to make use of prototypes, in contrast to Zurich’s Farbraum Stadt project. Five types of village typical of Thurgau were identified, and the colouring of each was investigated and presented in the form of generic colour maps. An interdisciplinary team from the fields of art history, colour design, restoration and skilled trades, working in cooperation with the historic building conservation authorities in Thurgau, analysed the colour space of these five localities. Each colour map shows details of a colour and a material aspect typical of the site, so the maps highlight various aspects relevant to colour design in a historic rural context and complement each other. • Colour map of Steckborn – the colour combinations of rendered houses in a small town with a historic centre (Fig. 10, p. 68) • Colour map of Lustdorf – the materials
and ageing of traditional everyday architecture in a rural village • Colour map of Zihlschlacht – chromatic diversity, despite an established colour tradition, in a town characterised by half-timbered buildings • Colour map of Ottenberg – building in the landscape (Fig.11, p. 68) • Colour study of Münchwilen – colour as a design instrument in a village with the character of a suburb, with industrial and commercial buildings The creation and use of the colour maps The colour maps were created mainly on the basis of a thorough analysis of the villages’ colour schemes. The first step was to take samples of the colours characteristic of a specific historic environment. Along with a general investigation of the individual village space, these colours formed the basis for the development of the colour maps. The second step involved optimising and expanding the colours, which were mixed in the studio for this purpose, taking architectural conservation, colour design and urban development factors into account. Literature and archival research and interviews with experts were also conducted. This made it possible to develop a broad palette of colours, which uphold a village’s historical character without excluding today’s technical possibilities and desires. The colour maps were then tested on site to ensure that they reflected the reality of the space. The colour maps were not designed as a colour guideline or as a collection of individual colour samples. Instead, they describe the colouring of each type of village as an overall composition, with reference to its shade and degree of lightness and colourfulness. This overall survey makes it possible to explore different chromatic worlds, with their fine nuances, and to record their qualities and properties. 67
Colour in the city – colour in the countryside
10 Farbkultur in Thurgau, colour map of Steckborn: The colour map shows the characteristic colours of the individual parts of buildings (from the bottom to the top: base, door embrasure, door leaf, facade, window embrasure, window frames, window shutters, facade (again), roof soffit, roof) of the three to four-storey gabled houses typical of Steckborn. Rows of these buildings line the town’s streets, lanes and squares. This close arrangement of the buildings and the interplay between the subdued colours of the traditionally mineral-plastered facades and the diverse coloured accents of the wooden building elements painted with oil paint shape the chromatic space in the town’s historic centre. Colour map planning and design: Marcella Wenger Di Gabriele. 11 Farbkultur in Thurgau, colour map of Ottenberg,
autumn: The interplay between architectural and natural colours over the course of the four seasons was investigated in the Ottenberg colour map. From this research, colour criteria for building in the landscape were developed and presented in a three-dimensional colour map. Simulations made on a model demonstrated that the colours of the architecture should not compete with the colours of nature and that the aim should be to have a respectful coexistence of the overall colour designs of groups of buildings. Colour map planning and design: Marcella Wenger Di Gabriele. 12 Farbkultur in Thurgau, explanation of colour terminology and qualities: To aid a detailed reading of the colour maps, basic colour terminology and qualities were explained with reference to
the architectural context using samples of colour in the study. The chart shown here reveals that certain colours in a historical range of colours dominated by earthy and mineral colours are perceived as “foreign elements” because they look too cool or too sweet. 13 Farbkultur in Thurgau, material samples: As technical and qualified implementation is of key importance, especially in a historical context, the project explained and sampled relevant material and technical aspects. This was also done with the intention of raising awareness of the aesthetic characteristics of various surface treatments. A series of samples with possible paint colours for a timber exterior in the red characteristic of Thurgau’s old timber-framed buildings is shown here. Sample production: Matteo Laffranchi.
With a specific composition for each type of village, the colour maps also show the balanced interplay of the colours of individual structural elements and materials and provide details on how the individual colours are distributed in terms of quantity. Using the colour maps can help designers to understand which colour qualities can be applied in large quantities and which should be regarded more as accents in the colour combination. Specific recommendations for practical implementation were also formulated for each colour map. The colour maps reveal not only the consistency, but also the delicate balance of individual colour spaces. As a result, it quickly becomes clear whether a planned colour will fit in with the overall colour scheme or whether it is too colourful, too light or too dark. The colour maps thus provide initial indications for the detailed colour design of an individual building and for the creation of colour concepts for groups of buildings. They are a source of inspiration, help to raise awareness and provide guidance that can serve as a basis for discussion and support appropriate, high-quality decisions on colour and materials. The colour maps thus provide a basis for future decisions on colour and indicate possible ways of dealing with colour for the villages investigated as examples. Based on the materials developed, further colour planning instruments such as swatches, collections of colours and materials, data sheets etc. can be developed as required. However, such instruments cannot replace expert colour design and architectural conservation consulting and planning, which, however, thus have a solid and broad basis. As the colour maps are very site-specific, they cannot be transferred directly to other places. Each place has its own chromatic identity and other spatial prop-
Colour in the city – colour in the countryside
erties, which must be meticulously revealed by an on-site investigation. A colour map made especially for a particular place also draws attention to the importance of colour and to qualities in the site. This promotes residents’ identification with their area and can encourage people to take a more conscious and sensitive approach to the use of colour and public space. The study of Münchwilen shows that colour strategies can definitely enhance the quality of a village’s image and encourage the formation of a uniquely local identity.
ners, tradespeople and clients and to encourage traditional and quality-conscious craftsmanship. In a rural setting in particular, in which a relatively high proportion of homes are privately owned and building committees are often made up of experts who are not involved in the construction industry, it is very important to raise awareness among clients and the public of the need to maintain a regional colour and building culture. The study was therefore accompanied by a travelling exhibition that makes it possible to use visual, tactile and auditory means of communication and allows for a more diverse presentation of the contents, thus reaching a wider audience. An exhibition can present material and technical aspects more tangibly than a publication can. A programme for the various target groups in the form of guided tours, lectures and workshops is further expanding the scope for presenting the study. The two projects described here, Farbraum Stadt (“Colour-Space-City”) and Farbkultur im Thurgau (“Colour Culture in Thurgau”), confirm that the aspect of colour and surface design in architecture is an essential element of building culture in general, in both an urban and a rural context. A high-quality colour culture is the result of continuous collaborative and far-sighted activity on the part of society. Everyone, within the scope of his or her sphere of activity and decision-making authority, is called upon to promote qualities that do not pursue individual interests and preferences, but seek to create high-quality, carefully designed living space for everyone.
Further aspects in maintaining and designing Thurgau’s colour culture The study revealed qualities of Thurgau’s colour culture that have grown out of a culture of building and craftsmanship handed down through many generations. This colour culture is characterised by a context-specific, solid use of colour that allows for the creation of waves of colour as harmonious as they are typical. What unites the colour spaces studied is less Thurgau’s overall colour palette than a shared approach towards the use of colour and materials in construction. This approach also always involves the immediate spatial context and historical background, as well as the idea of a shared responsibility for public space. At the same time, colour is largely determined by a sustainable choice of materials and meticulous work by skilled tradespeople, in which the colour design forms a structural and aesthetic union with the architecture. For this reason, the material, technical and aesthetic aspects of using historical and contemporary paintwork were also discussed and sampled in the study in addition to the specific properties of colour, such as shade, colour combination, colour aesthetics and colour tradition (Fig. 12, 13). This aim was to facilitate communication between plan-
Notes:  Jürg Rehsteiner, Lino Sibillano, Stefanie Wettstein (eds.). Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH. Eine Untersuchung und ein Arbeitswerkzeug zu Farbe in der Stadt. Zürich 2010.  The Haus der Farbe, with headquarters in Zurich and a workshop in Berlin, is a skilled trades and design college that unites colour, the skilled trades, techniques and design as overlapping fields. The practice-oriented way of working taught at the college creates synergies with the innovation potential of research, education, training and consulting. The Haus der Farbe is not only a place of learning, communication, discussion and inspiration for everyone involved in construction, but also a place where sound, high-quality technical and skilled trades design solutions are developed for projects. For further information, please see www.hausderfarbe.ch.  As for Note .  Jürg Rehsteiner, Lino Sibillano, Stefanie Wettstein (eds.). Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH. Eine Untersuchung und ein Arbeitswerkzeug zu Farbe in der Stadt. Zürich 2010, p. 120 –129.  Artist Eric Dettwiler made the videos, which can be viewed on the website www.farbraumstadt.ch.  Lino Sibillano and Stefanie Wettstein: Farbkultur im Thurgau pflegen und gestalten, published by the Amt für Denkmalpflege des Kantons Thurgau, volume 15. Basel 2013.
Colour in 20th century architecture. Identification. Understanding. Preservation. The conservation approach to 20th century architectural surfaces and the investigation, preservation and reconstruction of (material) coloured buildings in terms of restoration Thomas Danzl
At a first glance, the topics of “colour in architecture” and “architectural surfaces”  may be seen as a wellresearched field in the history of architecture, art and technology – a perception that can be confirmed less in a phenomenological sense and more in terms of the history of ideas. Yet few reliable, generally accessible comprehensive scientific examinations of historical architectural surfaces of any era are available so far. The renaissance of antique techniques in the 19th century
Semi-detached house in the Weißenhof housing estate in Stuttgart (D)1927, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. Part of the Werkbund exhibition, Die Wohnung, in the Stuttgart district of Weißenhof. Listed in 1958, renovated by the Staatliche Hochbauverwaltung Stuttgart (state building administration) between 1981 and 1987, renovated by the Wüstenrot Foundation between 2003 and 2005.
Following the birth of archaeology as a modern science in the second half of the 18th century, the theoretical study of the colours of antique temples and sculptures provided an opportunity to use the findings creatively in the Classicist construction methods of the time. The study of antique, medieval and modern sources also created an impetus to investigate the materials of historical painting techniques, as well as the materials used in painting and as bases, and to recreate them more or less successfully, increasingly on the basis of scientific investigation, over the course of the 19th century. Attempts to revive antique construction methods, such as fresco techniques and opus caementicium (cast concrete), failed due to the incorrect evaluation of written sources and scientific assessment of the archaeological record. The invention of Roman cement, Portland cement, various encaustic processes and the water-glass technique (stereochromic painting), which became popular during industrialisation, and the environmental pollution (not only for people, but also for the facades of buildings) resulting from these inventions, can be seen as byproducts of this research and remained important until well into the 20th century.
The polychromic dispute and its consequences
The incorporation of antique architectural colour into 19th century building practices, which was mainly advocated by Leo von Klenze, Jacob Ignaz Hittorf and Gottfried Semper, resulted in an outright conflict known as the polychromic dispute that divided architects into champions of a “white” or a “coloured” Antiquity. The polarisation resulting in the mid-19th century from this dispute between advocates of “material authenticity” and of “coloured architecture” had an ambivalent effect during subsequent decades on the historical-critical reception of colour in medieval architecture in state conservation of historical monuments, which was just becoming established at the time. Monumental wall painting – and decorative painting generally – was increasingly recognised as an integral part of medieval architecture and included in Neo-Gothic design practices. However, coloured painting of surfaces, especially on natural stone, was ignored as being inappropriate for that material until well into the 20th century, despite findings to the contrary. The ahistorical postulate of material authenticity or appropriateness in architecture put forward in the 19th century also came to be binding in varying degrees on several 20th century movements. Students of the architect and professor Carl Schäfer (1844 –1908) such as Hermann Muthesius, Hans Poelzig, Paul Schmitthenner and Fritz Schumacher, campaigned for a “material style” that emphasised the inherent colours of plaster, natural stone and brick, and later also of concrete, as basic elements of coloured design. Following the Aufruf zum Farbigen Bauen (“call to build with colour”) launched by Bruno Taut and Jakobus Göttel at the Deutscher Werkbund (German Work Federation) congress in 1919, the boundaries between 71
Colour in 20th century architecture.
“material colour and applied colour” were finally almost dissolved in the movements of the 1920s – in “Expressionism” and the “New Objectivity used by the Bauhaus in Weimar und Dessau” (Fig. 1). It was only the pioneering work of “Neo-classicists” such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and the efficacy of the International Style that caused notions of material appropriateness to retreat into the background from about 1930 until well into the 1950s. Material colour and applied colour
In describing and understanding coloured architecture, it may be useful to apply the distinction made by Arthur Rüegg between “material colour” and “applied colour” . The former can be regarded as “structural colour”, that is, the inherent and natural material colour of load-bearing structural elements made of stone, artificial stone or concrete, or as a form of cladding or incrustation (e. g. plaster, stucco, decorative concrete, stone, ceramic or glass slabs etc.). The material colour of glass, metal and alternative building materials also plays an equally important role in material colour. In contrast, “applied colour” refers to monumental interior and exterior wall painting and to the coating of surfaces (Fig. 2). The intrinsic value of colour and the role of architectural conservation
It was only with the “Modernist” reform movements in 20th century architecture that the intrinsic value of colour in contemporary architecture was first rehabilitated. This process was supported by progress made in the industrial manufacture of paint and plaster and the standardisation and quality assurance resulting from new production methods. Colours are understood as physiologically and psychologically independently functioning values of a surface that are able to 72
modify or ignore the appearance of architecture and its surfaces and to intensify its effect on the observer as a Gesamtkunstwerk (Fig. 3). One example is the use of colour in the Bauhaus buildings in Weimar and Dessau. Despite its political and socio-cultural upheavals, almost the entire 20th century was characterised by continuous standardisation and a differentiation of organic and inorganic building materials. From the 1970s onwards, this resulted in the almost complete rejection of “historical” building materials, such as adobe and pure lime plaster with regional aggregates and binding agents including linseed oil, from construction practice. The “Postmodernism” of the 1980s made it possible to continue using and rediscovering historical techniques and materials for contemporary (new) building construction and architectural conservation as part of a wider movement focused on environmental and cultural heritage conservation issues. It is therefore only logical to also make the historicised architecture of “Modernism” a topic of research and conservation interest. In the 1970s, the focus was on rehabilitating the fine distinctions of material and applied colour of Art Nouveau architecture (Fig. 4) and subsequently of the Gründerzeit. During the 1980s and 1990s, interest in “classic Modernist” buildings grew steadily after German reunification. This has been followed by interest in the continuities and discontinuities of architectural Modernism in the Third Reich and the GDR since the start of the new millennium.
Architectural conservation and restoration after 1975
Legislation regulating architectural conservation and the related expanded definition of the term since the European Monument Protection Year in 1975 made it possible to professionalise this occupa-
Bauhaus building (detail of the facade), Dessau (D) 1926, Walter Gropius. Left: stamped concrete produced using stonemasonry techniques. Above right: whitewash applied using a fresco technique. Below right: scraped finishing plaster, known as “Terranova”, originally coloured grey using slate powder with added mica glitter. Bauhaus building, Dessau (D) 1926, Walter Gropius. Main stairway in the workshop building, landing leading to the second floor. Material colours: terrazzo floor, glass, metal. Applied colours: surface painted with distemper and oil paint (radiators, doors and door frames). Efforts to introduce standardisation and quality assurance into the paint and pigment industry resulted in the publication of numerous works for tradespersons and architects. Tenement building, Leopoldstraße 77, Munich (D) 1902, Martin Dülfer, condition before repeated restoration in 2013. This was the architect’s home until 1906. It is an outstanding example of the use of different plaster and stucco techniques such as combing, grooving, incising, plaster relief and stucco. One can only speculate on the material colour of the plaster and of the original partial polychromy.
Colour in 20th century architecture.
tional field and to make it a subject of academic training through the establishment of university courses for restorers in what were then West and East Germany (in Dresden from 1974 and in Stuttgart from 1977) . Architectural conservation and restoration as applied sciences in the 21st century are concerned not only with perceiving all the materials of which the historical structure is made, but in fact specify them as a conditio sine qua non of authentic conservation. The history of the two disciplines’ development also shows how late the main instruments for conserving architectural surfaces – such as building surveys combined with a stratigraphic assessment of findings on plaster and paint and their scientific investigation and evaluation – were introduced into a conservation practice that is now ideally regarded as interdisciplinary. In the past decade, the high degree of specialisation achieved in the architectural conservation professions in Germanspeaking countries has set high standards in Europe and all over the world. Terminology
It should not therefore be surprising that restoration scientists increasingly use the term “architectural surface” and reject the term “architectural colour”  as defined by Friedrich Kobler and Manfred Koller in 1974/75 and still widely used today, namely as “the result of all efforts to emphasise a building’s architectural structure by means of its colours. It is irrelevant whether the colour is applied to a pre-existing architectural structure or creates or complements one. How coloured structuring is created, whether through differently coloured construction materials, painting, plaster. […] the structure of the material surface, the chromatic effects of light created by special types of glazing; the fixtures and fittings […]” is also irrelevant .
However, this definition is insufficient in discussing the conservation of 20th century buildings because it reduces architectural colour to a visual stimulus and is thus forced to neglect the holistic effect of colour achieved by the interaction of the underlying structure and material with the colour material. Only interdisciplinary cooperation between restorers, materials experts and architects at an early stage in the process of identifying, describing, evaluating and maintaining all architectural surfaces will completely bring out these structures’ inherent colour qualities. The conservation of Modernism
In retrospect, the work done on the Kandinsky-Klee Masters’ House in Dessau from 1998 to 2000 can be regarded as the beginning of a paradigm shift in the conservation of 20th century architectural surfaces . The main parameters used in the surveying, conservation, restoration and subsequent reconstruction of the building using identical materials were derived methodically from the terminology of László Moholy-Nagy, by which the colour of architecture is regarded as a material that becomes an independent visual medium through the various combinations and concentrations of its constituents – pigments, binding agents and additives – and their particular structures. Countless design variations can emerge from the surface type or texture of the substrata, from the covering power and gloss level of the paint, and not least from traces left by the application of paint or its maker  (Fig. 5 b, p. 74). These colour qualities were first examined by restorers and then subjected to micro-chemical analysis with the help of specific material investigations. Finally, skilled craftspeople recreated the colours by reproducing the mixing ratios in their original strengths. This involved identifying and reproducing the
surface quality (opaque, glazed, matt, shiny etc.) most likely to result from the application process and sequence of layers, for example by comparing microchemical analyses of binding agents, pigments, additives and colour transitions (Fig. 5 c, p. 75). If one wanted to define the topic of conserving historical architectural surfaces in the decade following German reunification as the order of the day, given the wealth of authentically preserved architectural surfaces that are however at great risk as regards conservation, the conference, Historical Architectural Surfaces. Lime-PlasterColour, held in 2002 by the German National Committee of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) succeeded in summarising a decade’s experience of several generations of specialists from former East and West Germany and can be regarded as a standard work on the subject. On the basis of the development of the terms “architectural colour” and “architectural surface” in art and architectural conservation theory, as described above, Ivo Hammer strongly advocates the use of the latter, as only this term does complete justice to the awareness and conservation of the materiality of historic monuments . Architectural conservation and restoration practices of conserving, restoring and reconstructing 20th century architectural surfaces in Central Europe Although restorers now firmly believe that it is possible to conserve Modernist buildings, rising pressure from investors, increasing usage requirements and the resulting endeavours to modernise buildings pose an increasingly substantial risk for a larger number of equally important, but less well-known buildings. Owners’ interest in aspects of functionality, the 73
Colour in 20th century architecture.
expense and effort involved in repairs and adaptation to current norms (footfall sound insulation and thermal insulation), as well as repairs of technical defects (e. g. the renovation of reinforced-concrete structures) mean that restoration or partial renovation now forms a possible basis for discussion in far too few cases. However, an intersubjective evaluation of existing materials to determine whether they can be reused or conserved would be desirable, if only to save resources, not to mention the related issues of preserving authentic surface information and its wider aesthetic relevance. Conservation, repairs, restoration, reconstruction and maintenance
The widespread opinion still postulated that Modernist architecture cannot be conserved because its construction materials can no longer be procured, and that conserving these materials results in an unacceptable economic burden and functional limitation, must now be modified given the ever-increasing number of successfully completed examples of restoration. Experiences in dealing with Modernist buildings over the past decade demonstrate a methodical
diversity that may seem hard to comprehend outside expert circles, but has promoted a general change of thinking. Along with the total renovations that prevailed in the past and often involved the complete replacement of original structural elements and the destruction of architectural surfaces, thus resulting at best in the reconstruction of something similar to the original, a repair and maintenance approach is increasingly being taken and has been very well documented in the Wüstenrot Foundation’s publications since 2000 . Interdisciplinary project planning
If work on surfaces is to go beyond merely “scratching the surface”, an appropriately trained restorer must be involved in the planning process at the appropriate time and must produce an inventory in interdisciplinary dialogue with structural engineers, architects, building researchers and materials experts. This inventory should describe the various topics addressed in terms of the dynamic of the damage caused and its relevance, and subsequently be included in a joint catalogue of measures and in the bill of quantities for the tender. This approach makes it possible to safeguard layers of paint and sections of plaster, which should then be kept as primary sources in a building component or materials archive. This is also the right time to discuss usage concepts and to develop strategies that will be compatible with the building and make it possible both to retain the original building substance and adapt it to the necessary usage concepts. It may not be essential to reconstruct any colour concepts or surfaces from when the building was built, although this might be an architectural conservation goal as part of an evaluation of preliminary restoration work.
Conservation – restoration – reconstruction?
However, it is often difficult to separate conservation, restoration and reconstruction measures. Modernist architecture’s preoccupation with aspects of its material properties, their impact on architecture, and sometimes perfect craftsmanship and material quality still give rise today to the following fundamental problems in preparing and planning renovation measures: general knowledge of the materials used and of their material properties and behaviour as they age is still comparatively poor, although much can be derived from secondary sources (e.g. plans, designs, sketches, photos, materials specifications, former workers). This information must be checked in a way that critically appraises the sources and tests the validity of concrete findings from the building, that is, the primary source. On the other hand, defining the original and aged material properties makes it possible to adjust the repair and supplementary materials specified in the contract (Fig. 6). This comparison between the materials actually used and the structures built with them has yet largely to be undertaken for 20th century buildings. The certainty that has developed in many areas in dealing with buildings from the Gründerzeit or earlier eras is based on a knowledge of materials that have been used for a long time and whose compatibility with each other can be objectively assessed and has long been established. As experience in recent years has shown, the often substance-destroying work done on Modernist architecture means that a similar growth in knowledge will probably never get off the ground in this area. Investigation and documentation
However, it is a truism in built heritage preservation that conservation, maintenance and reconstruction – in addition to
Colour in 20th century architecture.
the removal of changes to materials that are technically damaging to the building and detract from its aesthetic quality – require an understanding of the materials used in the past in order to conserve them. For this reason, the building’s material and non-material condition must be inspected, identified and documented in a process in which historical research, the compilation of written and visual sources, and the gathering of information that can be documented from the building itself must all have equal weight. In technical inspections, the focus is on visual examination, that is, on phenomenology and its documentation. This is expanded as required by the use of suitable optical aids such as spotlights, UV light, magnifying glasses and microscopes and qualified by more detailed investigations of the building’s structure, sampling and microscopic examinations of cross-section layers and thin sections, and analyses of pigments, binding agents and damage factors. Consensus should be reached in advance with the project partners as regards the documentation methods in terms of the mapping methods and depth.
way. A tradesperson and/or restorer should create a sample of the work for various representative elements of the building as a basis for discussion. This can help to reveal any technical, methodical and aesthetic flaws, and as a side effect, make it possible to estimate costs accurately.
a Bauhaus building, Dessau (D) 1926, Walter Gropius. Vestibule in the workshop building. b Vestibule in the workshop building. The matt and shiny coloured surface design complements the material colours of the glass, metal and terrazzo floors. c Documentation of successive layers of colour in the vestibule using cross sections. Colour charts with hand-painted coatings were an early aid for skilled tradespeople in consultation, planning and quality assurance. “Coloured tinted white /bronze” mixing table, Table 7 from Baumann’s new colour chart, 1912.
Aesthetic presentation and prevention
The development of one or more buffer or surface layers compatible with the building and its materials in the form of a washi or waste paper covering or layers Photo of the findings
Explanation of the findings
Microscopic view (enlarged 40 times) of the crosssection coating of a material sample from the corner joint between the jamb and the ledge of the door opening: Sequence of layers T 1 2 3 4 5 6
White Black White White Whitish Black
Lime mortar (applied when the building was built) Smooth layer Coating (not w, sm) Smooth layer Coating (not w) Glaze, polish (not w, g) Coating (not w, m)
Developing a plan
A step-by-step model of proposed measures can only be produced once all of the data collected, the data’s historical and technological elements, and the causes and signs of damage identified have been interpreted. In addition to the urgently required conservation measures, the proposals can include models of a desirable aesthetic presentation. This concept should form the foundation of a step-by-step plan to be used as a basis by everyone involved in the project. At the same time, the plan should have a certain amount of flexibility so that new findings made during construction can be included and responded to in a positive 5 c w = water-soluble, m = matt, sm = semi-matt, g = glossy
Microscopic view (enlarged 85 times) of a material sample from the corner joint between the jamb and the ledge of the door opening: Sequence of layers T 1 2 3 4 5
White Black White White Whitish
Lime mortar (applied when the building was built) Smooth layer Coating (not w, sm) Smooth layer Coating (not w) Glaze, polish (not w, g)
Colour in 20th century architecture.
of plaster or coatings to protect historic findings inside and outside the building must form part of the preparations for renovation measures. What makes the colour theory on which many Modernist colour concepts were based more difficult is that there are no “neutral” colour or repair treatments! Small fragments of paint layers often mean that it is only possible to create a complete picture through laboratory reconstruction, which can only ever be a more or less successful general approximation of the original. If it is not possible to reconstruct a room’s colours due to a lack of solid base materials, that is, plastered surfaces, skirting boards, picture rails, doors, window frames and fitted elements etc., (which areas of tolerance are there?), this leads to the loss of an ideal unit – a fact that must first be established as such and weighed up (Fig. 7). In case of doubt, incomplete reconstruction or partial presentation of surfaces existing at the time the building was built must be foregone to avoid aestheticising the banal in a syncretism of aged, inadequately produced base structures and reconstructed new layers of colour that would certainly contradict the original intentions. As far as possible, surfaces should be supplemented or recreated using identified historical techniques and identical or compatible materials, thus largely ensuring the authenticity of the findings implemented precisely because of the materials’ expected inherent ageing. Properly prepared basic documentation should ensure sustainable maintenance of the building’s original surface and repeated treatment of the reconstructed surfaces in all measures. Once conservation and restoration measures have been completed, appropriate plans for the care and maintenance of the structure should be made on the basis of the findings obtained. 76
Conclusion The “Modernist dilemma in architectural conservation” is revealed in the competing poles of net asset value and visual appeal, opposites that can also be paraphrased as the “preservation of substance” versus “reconstruction”. But as previously explained, what first seems like a paradoxical synthesis, combining the conservation and restoration principles, methods and techniques of “substance-preserving reconstruction”, could also be attempted. Transitions between phases of conservation, restoration and repair, including the replacement of materials and partial or complete recreation ex novo, are fluid to varying extents on each historic monument building site. Acceptance of these measures increases or declines with actual or alleged knowledge of what has been lost and with the subsequent demands on the outcome of reconstruction. Initially, the fact that a materially aesthetic coherence of the materials originally used must be retained, and only recreated where necessary, in all supplementation and reconstruction projects may be decisive. This is unavoidably linked to the issue of the expertise and decision-making authority of those involved in the reconstruction process – owners, conservators, architects, building researchers, restorers and tradespeople, to name just the main players. There is also the question of the inevitably related group dynamic processes, which are “materially” reflected in the truest sense of the word in the quality of the result. To be honest, the desire shared by conservators and restorers for “reproduction” or “recreation” that uses identical materials to reconstruct an original that often only exists in small fragments is still far too often lost to issues of liability, struggles over authority and a subjective exercise of influence
from various sides – and in many cases, the result must bluntly be described as “a fluke”. Every new intervention adds another link to the chain of lost historic information and any deficits in the technical ability of those working on the project are additionally intensified. To counteract the risk of the loss of substance and knowledge, conservators, building researchers and restorers have been developing concepts and methods since the 1970s aimed at recreating lost conditions in a way that will protect a structure’s substance “on paper” or digitally and, if possible, during construction. Of course, reconstruction is now defined as a time-dependent and thus correctable hypothesis and interpretation. It is also linked with the necessity of regaining lost knowledge and with attempts at a critical continuation of traditions. Two lines of attack seem to be decisive in reconstructing architectural surfaces: the need to define, in terms of conservation, a justifiable and transferrable strategy for reconstruction that is compatible with the original fragments and uses identical materials, but is also designed to be reversible as far as possible. Reversibility makes it possible to carry out follow-up inspections using other types of investigation methods and improved equipment and to implement new reconstruction hypotheses in subsequent repeated restoration. The quality of an architectural surface conserved or supplemented and reconstructed in analogy to the structure, texture and make of the existing structure should also offer observers a plausible perception of the properties of the reconstructed surface, especially in terms of its ageing process. If we use Hammer’s definition of plaster and painting  as an “interface” or “information
Colour in 20th century architecture.
interface” with the observer, these also contribute primarily to a reconstruction’s “veracity” as a “user interface”, with their traces of materials, techniques and ageing. The surrogate, which may rely on deceptively real “recreation” and an “impression” of the original surface properties, but lacks its material and application technique qualities, will be exposed at the latest at a second glance, which will reveal a “growing apart in ageing” or “different ageing” and further “disappoint” the observer.
Conservation instead of restoration?
Contrasting with the quality demands on the investigation, conservation or restoration and subsequent reconstruction of Modernist colour concepts explained in detail above, another architectural conservation method should equally be considered here: the conservation of the existing or “actual condition”, of “accumulated conditions” and of “traces of time”. During the restoration of the Muche/Schlemmer Masters’ House in Dessau (Fig. 8 a, b, p. 77), the discussion
Haus Atlantis, Bremen (D) 1930/31, Bernhard Hoetger. Reconstruction of colours in the stairway from 1988, with no attempt to reproduce the qualities of the structure and colours using identical materials. Material colour (glazed clinker brick, metal, glass brick) and encrusted natural stone slabs with areas of colour. 8 a, b Muche/Schlemmer Masters’ House, Dessau (D) 1925/26, Walter Gropius. Listed since 1974; declared a UNESCO World Heritage cultural site in 1996; preparatory investigations with research, analyses and reports on historical architectural and technological aspects for researching the building, and planning and carrying out of renovations from 1998 to 2002. Opened in 2002 as an exhibition space and venue.
Colour in 20th century architecture.
on possibly presenting diachronic historical layers and retaining conversions and remodelling, which could have documented the reception of Bauhaus buildings in the Third Reich, revealed both the limits of what was conceivable and what could be put into practice, as well as a (continuing?) lack of acceptance and tolerance among the (expert) public . The discussion underway since 2006 on the “urban planning repair” and the “closing” of a “gap in the urban landscape” caused by the destruction of Villa Gropius and part of the Moholy-Nagy Masters’ House by reconstructing these buildings can only be seen in this context as a missed opportunity, despite the very successful winning design by Bruno Fioretti Marquez Architekten. The preservation of Haus Emmer, a banal example of a “German model house” with a pitched roof that was built on the cellar of Villa Gropius, all that remained of the latter after it was destroyed by bombing, would have provided a unique architectural conservation opportunity to document the destruction of the Second World War and the continuity and discontinuity of the legacy of Bauhaus in the early years of the GDR in its original location by simply conserving the structure’s existing condition . The elimination of traces of history during reconstruction, along with the use of similar or identical materials in a way that fulfils the conservation requirements of the original as far as possible, seems to have reached a new height in the restoration of Villa Tugendhat in Brno, which was completed in March 2012 (Fig. 9 a, b). The complete reconstruction of its lost furnishings and of those found in museums and private ownership, along with the restoration of its surfaces, suggests a condition that the Tugendhat family probably found when it moved into the house. In contrast, the story of the family’s 78
escape and emigration and of the plundering, partial destruction and conversion of the house to new use has been degraded to a mere footnote. It is disturbing that in the discussions on architectural conservation mentioned above, the years of the Second World War (1933 –1945) and the post-war period (1945 –1961) still seem to be inadequately focused on systematic painting, material and restoration research. Now, after almost 20 years of work on and experience with a possible “conservation of Modernism” that has been tested over a long period, the categorical imperative formulated as early as 1997 at the ICOMOS conference in Leipzig by HPC Weidner is certainly still worth repeating: “Modernist monuments must be treated like any other historic monument.”  (Fig. 10). Notes:  Or “coloured architecture”, “architectural colour”, “polychromatic architecture”, “architectural polychromy”, “coloured construction” etc.  Rüegg, Arthur: “Farbkonzepte und Farbskalen in der Moderne/Colour Concepts and Colour Scales in Modernism”, Daidalos, 1994, no. 51, pp. 66 –77.  Doctorates in this area can be conferred in Dresden, Munich and Stuttgart at the Academy of Fine Arts Dresden, art technology, conservation and restoration of art and cultural assets degree course; Technische Universität München, Chair of Restoration, Art Technology and Conservation Science; and Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design. The following courses and institutions also offer courses, but are not entitled to award doctorates: Erfurt University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Conservation and Restoration; University of Applied Sciences and Arts Hildesheim / Holzminden /Göttingen, Conservation of Cultural Assets Department, which developed from the Department of Conservation and Restoration; Cologne University of Applied Sciences, Institute of Restoration and Conservation Sciences; and Potsdam University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Architecture and Urban Planning /restoration degree course.  Kobler, Friedrich; Koller, Manfred: “Farbigkeit der Architektur”, Reallexikon zur deutschen Kunstgeschichte, vol. VII, 1974/75 edition, column 274 – 275.  Ibid., column 275.
 Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau (ed.): Umgang mit Bauten der Klassischen Moderne 2: Sanierung von Oberflächen, presentations at the colloquium on 15 December 2000. Dessau 2001.  Danzl, Thomas: “Rekonstruktion versus Konservierung? Zum restauratorischen Umgang mit historischen Putzen und Farbanstrichen an den Bauhausbauten in Dessau”, Denkmalpflege in Sachsen-Anhalt, vol. 7, 1999, no. 1, pp. 100 –112; idem: “Restaurator und Denkmalpfleger – Zusammenarbeit bei der Sicherung von Architekturoberflächen”. 70. Tag für Denkmalpflege. Vom Nutzen und Nachteil der Denkmalpflege für das Leben, Fachtagung Denkmalbestand und Denkmalbetreuung. annual congress of the association Vereinigung der Landesdenkmalpfleger in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, 17– 21 June 2002, Wiesbaden, Arbeitshefte des Landesamtes für Denkmalpflege Hessen, vol. 4. Stuttgart 2003, pp. 137–140; idem: “Zur Konservierung, Restaurierung und Rekonstruktion von Architekturoberflächen am Doppelhaus der Bauhausmeister Georg Muche und Oskar Schlemmer in Dessau”, in Gebeßler, August (ed.): Gropius. Meisterhaus Muche /Schlemmer. Die Geschichte einer Instandsetzung, Baudenkmale der Moderne series by the Wüstenrot Foundation. Stuttgart 2003, pp. 152 –182.  Hammer, Ivo: “Bedeutung historischer Fassadenputze und denkmalpflegerische Konsequenzen. Zur Erhaltung der Materialität von Architekturoberfläche (mit Bibliografie und Liste von Konservierungsarbeiten)”, in Pursche, Jürgen (ed.): Historische Architekturoberflächen. Kalk – Putz – Farbe. (Internationale Fachtagung des Deutschen Nationalkomitees von ICOMOS und des Bayerischen Landesamtes für Denkmalpflege, Munich, 20 – 22 November 2002, Hefte des Deutschen Nationalkomitees XXXIX). Munich 2004, pp. 183.  Wüstenrot Foundation (ed.): Häuser der frühen Moderne. Ein Netzwerk allgemein zugänglicher Baudenkmale. Ludwigsburg 2007. Huse, Norbert (ed.): Mendelsohn. Der Einsteinturm. Die Geschichte einer Instandsetzung, Baudenkmale der Moderne series by the Wüstenrot Foundation. Stuttgart 2000. Burkhardt, Berthold (ed.): Scharoun. Haus Schminke. Die Geschichte einer Instandsetzung, Baudenkmale der Moderne series by the Wüstenrot Foundation. Stuttgart 2002. Gebeßler, August (ed.): Gropius. Meisterhaus Muche/Schlemmer. Die Geschichte einer Instandsetzung, Baudenkmale der Moderne by the Wüstenrot Foundation. Stuttgart 2003. Adlbert, Georg: Le Corbusier/Pierre Jeanneret. Doppelhaus der Weißenhofsiedlung Stuttgart. Die Geschichte einer Instandsetzung, Baudenkmale der Moderne series by the Wüstenrot Foundation. Stuttgart 2006. Wüstenrot Foundation (ed.): Weißenhof Museum in the Haus Corbusier/ Weißenhof Museum in the Le Corbusier House. Ludwigsburg / Zürich 2008.
Colour in 20th century architecture.
Markgraf, Monika; Oelker, Simone; Schwarting, Andreas (edited by the Wüstenrot Foundation): Denkmalpflege der Moderne. Konzepte für ein junges Architekturerbe. Stuttgart 2011. Adlbert, Georg: Der Kanzlerbungalow. Erhaltung, Instandsetzung, Neunutzung. Ludwigsburg / Zürich 2010.  As in Note 8.  Gebeßler, August: “Zur Auseinandersetzung um ein Instandsetzungskonzept”, in Gebeßler, August (ed.): Gropius. Meisterhaus Muche / Schlemmer. Die Geschichte einer Instandsetzung, Baudenkmale der Moderne series by the Wüstenrot Foundation. Stuttgart 2003, pp. 85 – 99.  Markgraf, Monika: “Rekonstruktion? Das Gropius-Haus in Dessau”. Lecture at the symposium Nachdenken über Denkmalpflege (part 6): Denkmale nach unserem Bild? Zu Theorie und Kritik von Rekonstruktion, Bauhaus Dessau, 31
March 2007, published in www.kunsttexte.de (e-journal on Visual and Art History), 3/2007. edoc.hu-berlin.de, retrieved on 14.6.2013; Schwarting, Andreas: “Aura und Reproduktion. Anmerkungen zum Haus Gropius in Dessau”, published in www.kunsttexte.de (e-journal on Visual and Art History), 3 /2007. edoc.hu-berlin. de/kunsttexte /2007-3/schwarting andreas -5/ PDF/schwarting, retrieved on 14.6.2013.  Weidner, HPC: “Bauten der Moderne der Zwanziger Jahre in Sachsen-Anhalt”, in Konservierung der Moderne?/Conservation of Modern Architecture? Über den Umgang mit den Zeugnissen der Architekturgeschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts (congress of the German National Committee of ICOMOS with denkmal ’96, European trade fair for conservation and urban regeneration, Leipzig, 31 October – 2 November 1996), ICOMOSHefte des Deutschen Nationalkomitees XXIV. Munich 1998, pp. 115 –121.
9 a Villa Tugendhat, Brno (CZ) 1928 –1930, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. b Perfect, perhaps too perfect, condition of the restored interior. 10 Liederhalle, Stuttgart (D) 1955/56, Adolf Abel and Rolf Gutbrod. South-western view of the Mozart Hall from Berliner Platz. Taking an organic building approach (in accordance with Hugo Häring), the facade materials (quartzite, marble, clinker brick) in the composition by Blasius Spreng should fully unfold aesthetically, while still fitting into the overall context. The sensitive restoration, particularly of the exposed concrete surfaces, that took the structure’s age and value as a work of art into account (1987–1990) can be regarded as ground-breaking.
Colour in 1970s architecture in Berlin und Zurich – on the history of colour culture for the use of colour now and in the future
Architecture directly meets society’s needs as far as possible and reacts to current requirements, difficulties or deficits. The same goes for colour in architecture. Research on this topic became established in the 1960s and 1970s. This was in fact a resumption of the discourse on colour that began in the early 20th century and was connected with debates on urban development and politics, as well as with contemplation on the relationship between architecture and history. The late 1960s and early 1970s were a very eventful period: the Vietnam War, student riots, the moon landing and the oil crisis were just a few of the highlights that characterised this time of change and upheaval. A longing for a more open society and for fundamental change shaped everyday life. At the same time, a Pop Art wave emanating from the US und the UK spread to Central Europe, bringing with it an “everything-is-possible” attitude, which turned the everyday into the fantastical and sought to experiment. This new sense of colour, coloured intensity and colourful atmospheres needed form, which it found, for example, in the vividly coloured interiors of Danish designer Verner Panton, who
made sensational futuristic visions out of Dralon fibre . New means of production and technical possibilities were researched and, in some cases, included as experiments; alternative uses of materials were explored; and their potential was investigated. 1970s architecture still yields a wealth of information on these developments. Buildings were enhanced inside and out by the use of colour. Based on these mixtures, a very special mix was created that expressed a range of colours typical of the time. Various periods forge their own colour identities and depict cycles in architectural history in cities or the countryside. These cycles use colour to form the urban landscape and create atmospheres specific to particular cities . They make a substantial contribution to a city’s various characters . The architectural historian Julius Posener often speaks in his lectures about the need for precise observation and individual alertness in observing objects . The latter requires us to trust our sensory organs. Perception is not free. It is controlled by systems that are based on previously acquired knowledge and correspond with our expectations. Our
field of observation is limited and defined from the outset. People see what is familiar to them and what they expect to see. We can only change our evaluation or appraisal of a familiar situation if we become aware of the limitations of our own powers of observation and expand the range of our perceptions. As well as the issue of observation, the topic of evaluation thus plays a role in this process. Every decision to conserve a building is based on agreement within society. The question of a building’s significance for the present is raised insistently and incessantly. Decisions are made on the basis of the building’s reception, in which evaluations and reevaluations can change. What constitutes a historic building for example, is based on an understanding of what should be kept in the wider social memory. This makes preserving the architecture of the preceding generation a particularly precarious process, which often involves conflict between the generations. Despite all the processes and provisions for protecting buildings, decisions to demolish or completely redesign a building are often made relatively quickly and without subjecting the structure to closer inspection.
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Reinickendorf Tax Office in Berlin (D) 1974, Rainer Gerhard Rümmler Entrance area and post room on the ground floor of the tax office The lift invites visitors to discover the building. The next floor prefers green Symbolic figures point the way to the toilets Colour provides orientation in a corridor corner
Colour in 1970s architecture
Economic and ecological issues may now be the preeminent concerns. The knowledge and, above all, the time required to develop an understanding of an individual structure and its location are usually lacking. However, precise observation repeatedly opens up new opportunities for us to examine, question, and perhaps revise our opinions, and to open our eyes to new aspects of visual experience, such as the diversity and differences of surfaces or the play of light. This means not falling into the trap of selective perception, but rather engaging with an object and subjecting it to a precise visual inspection without preconceived ideas. This can be a delightful and sometimes very surprising undertaking, and not only as regards colour and architecture. The wide variety of urban space can be successfully expanded: diversity, not monotony; clear legibility of urban development, not uniformity. This is not about tastes or preferences, but rather a fundamental acceptance of different attitudes towards history, the city and /or landscape. Even if it is sometimes difficult to accept a certain form or design of a building, the focus should always be on
the fact that it may be a typical representative of a specific period and as such hold important information . A building only functions well when all its components interact. If individual parts are changed, the overall impression of the building loses the impact of its design as a single entity. This article focuses on 1970s architecture. The buildings are now facing renovation and modernisation or are at risk of being lost to demolition. Experience has shown that renovation often leads to the loss of essential details, such as typical colouring, which has often become strange and incomprehensible in the meantime. Caution is needed here, as colour is a constitutive element of architecture and its loss can permanently damage a building’s overall impact. If work is based on contemporary taste and a building is coloured in updated shades, the aesthetic of the period in which it was built will be essentially destroyed. Colour functions in context. A successful colour concept expands and interprets architecture, and lends it an additional level of content. It is a basic material of architectural design .
In contrast to the approach taken with the now canonised buildings of the 1920s, such as those by Bruno Taut or Le Corbusier, only a small circle of experts is currently striving to broaden our understanding of 1970s buildings and their design and drawing up appropriate planning criteria for future construction measures. In the following sections, two striking examples from Berlin and Zurich will show how one can examine buildings without preconceived notions, document them attentively, explore their wealth of detail and tap into their potential. Berlin, Finanzamt Reinickendorf (Reinickendorf Tax Office) – surprises, floor by floor Rectangles fitted compactly into one another, some with softly rounded edges, others with sharp contours; horizontal layers, vertical stripes; and eight storeys high in total. The building’s street number, 208, is emblazoned in yellowish orange at the top and is easily visible from far away (Fig. 1, p. 80). Below it are brown, anthracite and beige facade surfaces, and on its narrow sides there are round towers with rectangular light beige sur-
Colour in 1970s architecture
faces accommodating windows. Brown elegantly circles the towers; anthracite and beige alternate across the surface; and orange is delicately arrayed along the ribbon windows and necessary ventilation pipes and access doors. Entering the building, the visitor’s impression of colour is intensified. The reception is bright red and a vividly yellow door next to it leads to the post room (Fig. 2, p. 80). The door sports red and black graphics reminiscent of the graffiti art of the late artist Keith Haring (Fig. 2, p. 80). Immersed in a signal-like red, the lift invites visitors to explore the upper floors. Imposing white arrows indicate the direction you are travelling in (Fig. 3, p. 81). Emerging on an upper floor, more Pop Art post room doors lead you to multicoloured access areas. These are different on each floor, a clear green with cheerful yellow and red accents alternating with red walls featuring medium blue and green details. Black strips separate areas of colour from each other (Fig. 4, p. 81). Red or black doors set in yellow walls and decorated with life-sized human figures in white indicate the toilets (Fig. 5, p. 81). A range of other graphic elements – octagonal signs, inscriptions, arrows – enlivens the walls. Many round
forms appear and the coloured wall surfaces flow around them. The intensity of the colours of the connecting office corridors seems calming, although these shades are also enlivened by graphics (Fig. 6, p. 81). The walls are painted in a light sand shade, with a yellow wall stripe above it serving as a guide. The yellow is repeated in doorframes, while the doors themselves are painted in the colour of the storey where the access space is located, that is, blue or green. The door fittings are contrasting. A cosmos unfolds, initially provoking an impression of the irregular, of the ecstatic, of overpowering colour. The tax office’s interior colours overwhelm the surprised visitor with their power. The attentive guest is tempted to explore, to look around the next corner. At the top of the building is the canteen, distinctively labelled as such in black on yellow. In the dining room, a powerful ochre-yellow and brown define the overall tone, with the former covering the walls and frames of the ingenious ceiling structure. This colour is answered by a definitive brown. The room is divided by four large seating niches that intervene in the space (Fig. 7). Orange lights hanging over the tables seem like illumination falling from the roof
onto the workaday world. They separate and accentuate the interventions in the space, and along with the seating niches, are reminiscent of the deck of a ship. Back on the stairs, quieter colours prevail with precise intensity. Finely detailed rough plaster on the walls, artificial stone on the floor, and exposed concrete balustrades with handrails made of fine wood (Fig. 8) are integrated into a colour range composed of brown, grey, black and a sand-coloured warm green tone. The cool colour of the exposed concrete and artificial stone is answered by the intense sand tone of the wall surfaces and the tangible warmth of the wooden handrail (Fig. 9). The senses can pause briefly. Moving between floors means letting yourself go, but without losing your orientation. Distinctive red signs with bright yellow numbers give you the information you need. Zurich, Berufsschule für Detailhandel (retail vocational college) in the Unterstrass district This clearly structured imposing building with its rigorously vertical arrangement is situated on busy Niklausstraße (Fig. 10). Perpendicular facade elements lead from the ground floor to the roof, dividing the
Colour in 1970s architecture
facade into asymmetrical middle strips, which in turn are divided horizontally on each floor. The distinctive six-storey classroom section is complemented by the lower parts of the building, where special areas and the gymnasium are housed. Architects Esther and Rudolf Guyer designed the school building, which was constructed from 1971 to 1973, using specially developed concrete elements, a material that also defines the surface of the building (Fig. 11). The colour of the exposed concrete predominates on the facades and is complemented by the darker inclines of the washed concrete parapets (Fig. 12). The emergency stairs winding up the gable wall add a warm medium brown to the colour palette. Various orange nuances counter the material colour of the concrete, for example in glazed stripes of colour applied to the facades and structural elements such as windows and doors, rain gutters, blinds, signs and exterior lighting. Inside, the aesthetic of the prefabricated structural elements is enriched and simultaneously contrasted by the use of plastic in lamps, display cases, presentation boards, water fountains, covered break areas and school furniture. The angular
conspicuousness of the pre-cast concrete elements contrasts with the large amount of curves in the interior. Orange tubes break up the ceiling and frame signs and mirrored surfaces. In the corridors, the orange is complemented with yellow, red and green in the basement (Fig. 13, p. 84), at times set as a characterful strip on a concrete wall and elsewhere framing a door or indicating signs and notices (Fig. 14, p. 84). Synthetic and artificial stone structural elements repeatedly provide a contrast to the exposed concrete. Swiss graphic designer Hansruedi Scheller developed the overall design concept for Guyer architects, creating a sober, well-proportioned combination of commercial graphics and art (Fig. 15, p. 84). The rounded edges are also echoed outside in the broad sweep of the seating areas, banisters and paved paths, through to the emergency stairs’ consummate rotundity. Expanding observation – collecting traces The tax office in Berlin-Reinickendorf and the retail vocational college in Zurich are characteristic representatives of 1970s architecture and feature materials,
colours and design features typical of their period. These buildings’ overall composition functions via the interaction of all their components. Even minor redesigning could impair their appearance. Both buildings chronicle the atmosphere of an eventful decade in a unique way. The partly very intense colours used in the buildings were based on numerous new industrial developments. Many architects reacted to these developments by experimenting with the use of new materials. They were tempted to display and reveal, and laid bare load-bearing structures and supply systems. One famous example of this is the Centre Georges Pompidou (1971–1977) in Paris, whose architects, Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, presented an aesthetic of the building’s technical structure by moving it to the exterior and showing it in colour  (Fig. 2, p. 44).
7 Large seating niches structure the space. 8 The stairs feature a range of materials emphasised by colour. 9 Stairs: exposed concrete, wood and artificial stone in harmony. 10 Retail vocational college in Zurich’s Niklasstraße (CH) 1973, Esther and Rudolf Guyer. 11 Main entry to the vocational college, outside. 12 Facade of the vocational college with emergency stairs.
Colour in 1970s architecture
Reinickendorf Tax Office, and especially its richly coloured interior arrangement, corresponds to the style of its period. The building was constructed from 1970 to 1974 and designed by the architect Rainer Gerhard Rümmler, who was also head of the Design Department of the Berlin Senate . In a career lasting several decades, Rümmler designed more than 150 buildings, among them the Allied Checkpoint Bravo (now Dreilinden motorway service area) in southwest Berlin, which was completed in 1972 (Fig. 16). The facade’s red is supplemented by blue, yellow and grey
accents, creating an imposing Pop Art landmark at this former border crossing. Another example that was the subject of some controversy after its completion and still attracts a great deal of attention is Fehrbelliner Platz underground station in the Berlin district of Wilmersdorf (Fig. 17). Its entry pavilion, with its organic forms in a striking, distinctive red, is a stimulating contrast to the rigour of the Gründerzeit and Nazi era administrative buildings around the square. Letting one’s mind wander further through Berlin, we notice that other architects have taken similar approaches. One
example is Schlossstraße underground station in the Berlin district of Steglitz, designed by Ralf Schüler and Ursulina Schüler-Witte in 1974 . As well as a form language typical of the period, the powerful colours used catch the eye. Blue, red and yellow wall and ceiling elements and exposed concrete characterise the platforms. Right next to the station is the futuristic emblem of Schlossstraße that has to live with the nickname of “Bierpinsel” (beer tap brush) (Fig. 18), a restaurant resting on a slender base. This building was also designed by Schüler and Schüler-Witte and constructed between 1972 and 1976. The jutting polygonal structure of the tower clad with red steel panels contrasts with the natural grey of the concrete base. Following a colour “redesign” by graffiti artists in 2010, the restaurant is now scheduled to regain its original carmine colour. Also a child of its time in terms of its design, and now the subject of much discussion due to current difficulties, is Berlin’s Tegel Airport. Gerkan, Marg and Partner planned this wellorganised hexagonal infrastructure ring in 1974. Its facade is structured entirely à jour by orange-brown aluminium panels. Inside, modern mustardyellow seating was arranged on a brown clinker brick floor, in keeping with the period .
13 Graphic designs on the walls in the corridor of the college. 14 Eye-catching colour on a classroom door. 15 Graphic designs on the walls in the corridor. 16 Former border crossing point and Allied Checkpoint Bravo in Berlin-Dreilinden (D) 1972, Rainer Rümmler and Hans Joachim Schröder. 17 Entry pavilion of Fehrbelliner Platz underground station in Berlin (D) 1972, Rainer G. Rümmler. 18 View of the “Bierpinsel” restaurant in Berlin (D) 1976, Ralf Schüler and Ursulina Schüler-Witte.
Colour in 1970s architecture
Like an oversized Pop Art sculpture, a building on the Landwehr Canal in the Berlin district of Tiergarten invariably attracts the attention of passers-by. This structure is the circulation conduit of a former hydraulic engineering and shipbuilding research station (Versuchsanstalt für Wasserbau und Schiffbau) (Fig. 19, p. 86). The building, or rather the striking machine, was designed by Ludwig Leo and constructed between 1968 and 1975 . Its exterior form was developed from the structure’s function, while its defining structural components are presented in colour. Experiments on currents were carried out in the upper part of the building, while the turbine that moved the circulating water is in the pipe below. Its massive pipes were painted in a strong pink, while the square laboratory building above it was painted in deep blue. This two-colour tone is complemented by black-framed ribbon windows and a chimney painted in green. The building defies the usual expectations and breaks with the previous use of colour, making everyone who sees it curious and encouraging people to approach it and find out what lies behind it. Unexpected large sculptural forms jutting out of the urban space can also be found in Zurich. Swiss architect Theo Hotz designed the Herdern Telecommunications Centre (Fernmeldezentrum Herdern), which is situated directly at the motorway exit and was built between 1972 and 1978 (Fig. 20, p. 86). In front of the compact and strictly functionally structured aluminium facade he positioned oversized orange and yellow ventilation pipes, whose design reminds the observer of the ventilation pipes of old steamships. The pipes, bending in different directions, seem like scouts or silent watchers over the traffic rushing past. Following further traces of the 1970s in Zurich, we find the Dorflinde Social Cen-
tre (Sozialzentrum Dorflinde) in the Zurich district of Oerlikon. The centre was comprehensively renovated in 2011. With its buildings plastered in yellow, orange and brown, it is a representative example of a 1970s centre development. The ensemble was built between 1973 and 1977 and designed by the architects Marc Funk and Hans Ulrich Fuhrimann. It has the characteristic features of 1970s architecture, such as striking colours and an explicit display of the structural elements. During the renovation, the buildings’ typical exterior design was retained and the original colours were intensified. The architects and artists who worked on the building deliberately revived this link with the period of the ensemble’s construction during restoration . Colour was also assigned a special design value in the Buchholz housing estate, which was built in the Zurich neighbourhood of Witikon in 1977 (Fig. 21, p. 87). The almost identical single-family terraced houses in Buchzelgstraße are inventively clad with metal facade elements in blue, green, yellow, orange and red. Each house-owner could choose a colour from the RAL colour palette. This somewhat random mix resulted in a highly contrasting range of colours that pervades the entire housing estate. Surrounded by the green of plants, and depending on the time of year, various delightful chromatic harmonies are created. The kindergarten in Sihlweidstraße in the Zurich district of Leimbach is my final example of 1970s architecture. Architects Hans Müller and Peter Nietlispach constructed this building, which turns away from street traffic and was protectively located in a depression below street level, in 1975. Colour reinforces the formal interaction between rounded and clearly cubic forms. A lightbeige facade colour is arranged with a fresh olive-green applied under the roof-
line and window sills and surrounds the single-storey, flat-roofed building. Only in the entrance area do contrasting orange accents reveal the building’s purpose (Fig. 22, p. 87). Colour guides us and reveals connections The use of colour can help us to identify a building’s function. The spaces created by Rainer Gerhard Rümmler and Esther and Rudolf Guyer are inviting, as well as entertaining and surprising. Their buildings are characterised by a new opulence in the use of colour. They feature distinctive colours in the interiors and exteriors and the skilled merging of colour and form, which seek not to embellish, but are mutually dependent. Colour is not a mere surface application; it cannot be washed off without loss. Colour models, forms and separates a space, explaining it to us and guiding us through it. Visitors to these places feel welcome, enter the colourful spaces and corridors full of curiosity, and are provided almost incidentally with the information they need to orient themselves. Functional consistency is linked with openness, cheerfulness and joie de vivre, a concept that was often cited in the colour wave of the 1920. A clear commitment to colour emerged after the Second World War and was followed a short time later by Postmodernism. We should turn our attention to these buildings that form part of our everyday world, the buildings we pass daily or may even often use, without ever looking at them closely. Often only coloured and sensory impressions remain in the memory. This article seeks to make these buildings a focus of interest and exact observation, inspiring us to test their messages and explore their atmospheres. The examples chosen also stand for a reflective perception that we could 85
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equally apply to our observation of contemporary architecture. The form and design of these buildings refer to a wider context. Major social topics are articulated here in an abstract form. Each generation will read this code in a different way and come up with other results and conclusions. Private and public spaces form the organism of the city, based on diversity, originality and quality. A city’s appearance can be enriched by many facets of attentive observation. Existing design qualities can be retained and reinforced. In the retail vocational school in Zurich, colour serves as a counterpoint to the integrity of exposed concrete. The building’s structure continues to determine its form, but the architecture’s return to elementary forms is lightened by the use of colour, thus avoiding the risk of the uniformity seen in much modern concrete architecture. In a sense, this is not unlike the efforts made in the 1920s, such as those by Bruno Taut, who used colour to individualise his formally standardised buildings. In Berlin’s Schützenstraße neighbourhood, Aldo Rossi used colour to structure space and divide the massive buildings of a Gründerzeit block structure. A destroyed block of buildings in former East Berlin was reconstructed between 1994 and 1997, taking the city’s traditional building structures and existing pre-war buildings into account. Intensive reds and greens shine out of the urban jungle and explore the architectural language of the past in contemporary colours . The prospects for the present “As we write, so we build: to keep a record of what matters to us.”  This is how the philosopher Alain de Botton succinctly summarises the reason why the ideas that buildings convey are so important to us. Beauty or rationality are 86
not enough to ensure comfort and security. Hopes for change and a revolution in society can be seen in the architecture of the 1970s. There was a great willingness to turn to the unknown, to dare to experiment, and not to give priority to standards and rules. The buildings impressively express the decade’s specific design intentions and speak for quality and for the architects and graphic designers who devised and planned them. The courage expressed in this architecture is still an important message for the following generation. Different eras form their own colour identities, turning urban space into a colour space with various characteristics. The past, present and future merge and enrich each other. Like the larger structures of the city, village or cultivated landscape in which it is integrated, colour moves between a traditional consistency and an innovative dynamism. Colour conventions handed down for generations, whose links to the soil and landscape are unmistakeable, are accompanied by changing fashions that form part of our intellectual history. They centre on regional availability, technical innovations, tradition and the break with tradition, and social conventions . A city’s chromatic diversity tells us something about its inhabitants’ self-image, illustrates their concern for the structures of the past, contributes to the legibility of the urban structure and reveals attempts to do justice to prevailing trends (see also “Colour in the city – colour in the countryside”, p. 61ff.). In terms of architectural conservation, it is not only colour concepts, but also the knowledge of production and processing techniques that are of interest (see also “Materiality and technology”, p. 21ff.). Architecture is society in built form. It offers us protection and a home. It creates spaces for us to move in, gives us views, and communicates social con-
ditions including inequalities. It took on a physical form at a time that may now be decades or even centuries ago, thus serving as an eloquent witness of its period. Engage, take up the challenge, get out and see for yourself! It initially won’t take much more than a little of our precious time. If you make room for observation, understanding and appreciation will soon follow. It is vital that these structural witnesses of our history retain their original usage. It is not rational or necessary to turn them into a museum, as recently happened with a relic of the famous Der Spiegel magazine publishing house building by Verner Panton in Hamburg. On the contrary, more and more 1970s buildings will soon have to be restored. They are emblems of a time not long ago that now also somehow seems rather far away.
19 Circulation channel of the former hydraulics and shipbuilding research station (Versuchsanstalt für Wasserbau und Schiffbau) in Berlin (D) 1975, Ludwig Leo. 20 Telecommunications centre in Herdern, Zurich (CH) 1978, Theo Hotz. 21 Entrance area of the kindergarten in Zurich’s Sihlweidstraße (CH) 1975, Hans Müller and Peter Nietlispach. 22 Facade designs in the Buchholz housing estate in Zurich (CH) 1977.
Colour in 1970s architecture
21 Notes:  cf. Vegesack, Alexander von; Remmele, Mathias (eds.): Verner Panton. Das Gesamtwerk. Weil am Rhein, 2000.  cf. Neser, AnneMarie: “Geschichten von Farbe in der Stadt” in Farbraum Stadt: Box ZRH. Eine Untersuchung und ein Arbeitswerkzeug zur Farbe in der Stadt, edited by Rehsteiner, Jürg; Sibillano, Lino; Wettstein, Stefanie, Zurich / Leipzig 2010, pp. 15 – 23.  cf. Löw, Martina: Soziologie der Städte. Frankfurt am Main 2010, pp. 9 – 23.  cf. Kuhnert, Nikolaus: Ngo, Anh-Linh: “Architekturgeschichte als Gesellschaftsgeschichte”, Arch+. 46/2013, issue 210, pp. 2– 3.  cf. Hammer, Ivo: “Die malträtierte Haut. Anmerkungen zur Behandlung verputzter Architekturoberflächen in der Denkmalpflege”, in Beiträge zur Erhaltung von Kunstwerken 7, published by the Restauratoren Fachverband e. V. with the Academy of Fine Arts Dresden and the Restauratorenverband Sachsen e. V. Berlin 1997.  cf. Philipp, Klaus; Jan, Stemshorn, Max (eds.): Die Farbe Weiß. Farbenrausch und Farbverzicht in der Architektur. Berlin 2003, p. 40ff. The role played by Bruno Taut und Le Corbusier, who gave great importance to the topic of colour in the first half of the 20th century, should be highlighted here.  For information on the complete works of Architekturbüro Guyer, see Ineichen, Hannes (ed.): Rudolf + Esther Guyer. Bauten und Projekte 1953 – 2001. Monografien Schweizer Architekten und Architektinnen, vol. 4, book 1. Sulgen 2002.  cf. Fils, Alexander: Das Centre Pompidou in Paris. Idee, Baugeschichte, Funktion. Munich 1980.
 Rainer Gerhard Rümmler’s papers are stored in the Berlin Land Archive: E Rep. 300 –70 (cards).  Berlinische Galerie has stored the collection of works (plans, sketches, models, photographs, archived material) of the architects Ralf Schüler and Ursulina Schüler-Witte since October 2010.  “Blick ins Innere des Flughafens Berlin-Tegel”. In Bauwelt vol. 103/2012, issue 22, p. 31.  cf. Harbusch, Gregor: Architekt Ludwig Leo. Bauen im Westberlin der 1960er-Jahre, Dissertation project since 2009 at ETH Zurich.  cf. TEC21, no. 3 – 4, 13 January 2012. Supplement to the architecture magazine: Dossier Dorflinde Oerlikon.  Images in Imhof, Michael; Krempel, Leon: Berlin. “Neue Architektur. Führer zu den Bauten von 1989 bis heute”. Petersberg 2011, pp. 74 –75; Redecke, Sebastian: “Die Verführung. Das Quartier Schützenstraße in Berlin-Mitte”. Bauwelt, issue 7, 1998, pp. 314 – 317.  Botton, Alain de: Glück und Architektur. Von der Kunst, daheim zu Hause zu sein. Frankfurt am Main 2008, p. 123. Originally published as The Happiness of Architecture. The Secret Art of Furnishing Your Life, London 2006.  cf. Haupt, Isabel: Farben der Stadt, Architekturfarbigkeit, Stadtbild, Farbidentitäten. Basel 2012.
From classic Modernism to contemporary colour design
Many of the classic buildings of Neues Bauen (Modernist architecture) demonstrate a radically new and knowledgeable treatment of colour in space in which Modernist design principles are recognisable. The appearance of influential Modernist buildings and housing schemes, which was shaped by the demands of modern societies, as well as by industrial building materials and technologies, shows how colour and form were planned as a unity at an early stage in the design process. The control of the atmospheric, tectonic and semiotic effects of all bodies and surfaces in light was based on a symbiotic development of the language of colour and the form of architectural space. Modernism’s timeless aesthetic is still shaped today by “visual thinking”, which no longer followed principles drawn from cultural history such as styles and ordering principles, but instead defined functions that were communicated to the user through the visual design of architectural space (see “Colour in 1970s architecture”, p. 80ff.). Architecture’s external appearance broke away from the ideals of the past and concentrated on content arising from current social issues. Colour in architecture becomes a witness and a reflection of its time when it no longer strives for beauty but rather for veracity . The colour and form theories of the Bauhaus movement demonstrated this change from craftsmanship to visual thinking, which was based on a systematic interaction with social progress in theory and practice . The Ulm School of Design was instrumental in establishing Modernism’s essential education mission in the wider field of design education and is one reason why design is now taught as a research method for actively shaping society . We have known for a long time that the visual perception of images, 88
objects and spaces forms people. Modernism no longer legitimated visual communication and design through historic references, but through the relevance of its statements to the present and future. The Bauhaus master Josef Albers, who was also a guest lecturer in Ulm, published his still unique treatise on colour theory, Interaction of Color in 1963 . He no longer used colour merely as decoration, but rather for its spatial effects. In contrast, Bauhaus master Josef Itten’s colour theory, which is more popular in the area of general education because it is more easily accessible, largely consists of a systematisation of colour contrasts that have long been familiar. To this were added some of the psychological effects of colour described by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and transferred by Itten to design issues for the first time . The central importance of form in design in modern societies is made clear by numerous publications that explored and constantly updated modern construction principles . This focus on the overall education and training process means that colour is now less important and is not included at all in the teaching of design principles to trainee architects . Modernism’s language of colour has still not been comprehensively reworked and updated, although several excellent monographs describe the sophisticated and knowledgeable use of colour made by major representatives of Neues Bauen . This book cannot repeat all this information, and nor does it aim to do so. However, it is worth taking a brief look at Modernism’s language of colour, which is inseparably linked to form in all the classic buildings of Neues Bauen. This unity is now being carefully re-established in the restoration of listed buildings because authentic reconstruction of the colours of the mate-
rials is very important in understanding Modernism (see “Colour in 20th century architecture”, p. 71ff.). Some selected and clearly recognisable Modernist design principles that use colour and form as equally important design elements and synergistically as design tools are described below. A comparison of Modernist classics with contemporary buildings is designed to inspire readers to consider ways in which the principles of modern colour design could now be updated and systematically further developed. The abstraction principle Abstract or non-figurative art developed in the early 20th century parallel to similar movements in painting, sculpture, music and architecture. Centuries of established aesthetic orders were questioned. Jazz and twelve-tone composition, geometric abstractions of the human body, and compositions of lines and areas of colour characterised what was often an interdisciplinary search by the avant-garde for new forms of expression. This movement was accompanied by the development of new structural principles, which resulted in a renunciation of the doctrine of harmony that had hitherto applied and promoted the development of new atonal and expressive means. The so-called freeing of colour was linked with the task of linking its content to symbolic statements. Colour was no longer used in an iconographic way, but freely on surfaces, composed in the object and in space. From the abstract principles of Constructivism, the next logical step was to abandon architecture’s orthogonal grids and horizontal frameworks. Turning a line around a randomly chosen reference point or shifting a grid resulted in the deconstruction of the image space, an expansion of the abstraction principle
From classic Modernism to contemporary colour design
that was then transferred to objects and spaces. Architecture’s equilibrium principle was abolished in a process accelerated by the use of new materials such as reinforced concrete. The structural lines of force were designed in concrete in a way that was invisible to the observer, thus abolishing what had until then been visually comprehensible systems of load bearing. Architecture became a three-dimensional image space in which anything was imaginable and modern technology made a great deal possible. The Schröder House in Utrecht (Fig. 2) by Gerrit Rietveld shows an abstract treatment of colour that has parallels with the paintings of Piet Mondrian (Fig. 1), as well as with Constructivism and Concrete Art. For this house, Rietveld composed a structure of differently coloured lines and surface elements from the image through the object in space. This approach is still used today as a design principle in architecture, painting and graphic design. The architecture of recent decades has shown many examples of constructively and deconstructively developed spatial compositions of coloured surfaces and linear elements that use the abstraction principle. CAD
designs that can carry out any mathematical operations, compose picture elements and further develop them until implementation have played a major role in the spread of this principle all over the world. The Unilever Headquarters in Hamburg by Behnisch Architekten is a current example of a contemporary further development of the abstraction principle (Fig. 3). The inside-outside principle The contrast between inside and outside reveals the various demands made on built space, which should defy the elements, represent messages, and convey a sense of security. Incisions in a building’s external shell that reveal the inside and create an exciting contrast are a new form principle in Modernism that can only be read through colour contrasts. Without coloured markings, incisions in a building only reinforce the sculptural effect of its mass, as the openings created in this way are unambiguously part of the building’s outer shell. As with the human body, the transition from outside to inside is characterised by clear changes in colour. The coloured incisions in the building in the Le Corbusier House in the Weißenhof
housing estate in Stuttgart (Fig. 4) indicate the exciting contrast between the clear volume of the exterior space and the different atmosphere of the interior. Le Corbusier also used this principle in his unités d’habitation, in which he contrasted the uniformity of the “machine for living in” with the individuality of its inhabitants. Incisions in a monolithic concrete-grey form reveal the interior’s polychromatic repertoire. The team from Collaborative Architects from Mumbai, India, used this principle in their design of JDT Primary School (Fig. 5). Here it is especially clear that incisions in the building are assigned to interior or exterior space on the basis of their colours. The insideoutside principle also works where no windows can be seen. The sculptural principle The dramatic presentation of the sculptural impact of a building in a natural landscape is one of the oldest principles in architecture, as the Egyptian pyramids and the Acropolis still show today. Form and colours contrast sharply with the surrounding landscape, as both phenomena express the cultural activities of people, who form and colour materials according
1 2 3 4 5 4
Piet Mondrian, Tableau I, with black, red, yellow, blue and light blue, 1921, oil on canvas. Interior of the Schröder House in Utrecht (NL)1924, Gerrit Rietveld. Unilever Headquarters in Hamburg (D) 2009, Behnisch Architekten. Weißenhof housing estate, Le Corbusier House in Stuttgart (D) 1927, Le Corbusier. JDT Primary School in Kerala (IND) 2012, Collaborative Architects.
From classic Modernism to contemporary colour design
to specific needs. The geometry of cubic forms can be just as expressive as the dynamism of organic sculptures. At the level of colour, this principle can be most consistently expressed in white, black or mixtures of grey. The pigments produced synthetically today are rarely found in nature. This allows them to most clearly communicate humanity’s socially constructed will to form, if one regards artefacts in the context of natural colouring. Adalberto Libera specifically used the tectonic impact of colour to create the sculptural effect of Villa Malaparte in the natural landscape of Capri (Fig. 6). He staged the effects of his building, which transcend the beauty of nature in the Romantic sense. This principle, repeated in every white cube in the middle of a green field, is tempered by Villa Malaparte’s red colouring. Le Corbusier used white to emphasise the sculptural effect of architecture in his Villa Savoye, as did Oscar Niemeyer in his Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói. Peter Cook’s Kunsthaus Graz, whose sculptural effect is as much a result of its organic form as it is of the contrast between its shiny blue surface and the red-roofed buildings surrounding it, can also be understood in this sense (Fig. 7).
The envelope principle The enveloping or encasing of materials requiring particular protection is a formal principle that an observer can recognise through the contrasting effect of surface colours. Like an especially valuable instrument, the interior is protected by a self-supporting shell that can be designated inside the building by marking fixtures and fittings in different colours, emphasising the joints or creating contrasts between the surfaces. On the exterior, the casing or envelope principle becomes visible when load-bearing structures are filled in with wall segments, windows or built-in furniture. Without colour-coded separation of the enveloping material from the enveloped structure, layers merge into a single whole, thus making it harder or impossible to read the form principle used in a building. Interacting with the visual effect of surface structures is vitally important to the perception of this design principle. The feel of the colours of synthetic and organic materials and coatings enables observers to distinguish between the structural elements that provide protection and the parts of the structure that require protection.
People now build load-bearing shells that can be flexibly clad or set up to meet changing requirements. Materials that feel pleasant, such as wood or textiles, are mainly used where they will be touched, while structural elements remain unclad, their load-bearing function remaining visible. The TWA Terminal clearly demonstrates this design principle, which Eero Saarinen also applied in the design of his Tulip Chair. The intensive red colours of the textile covering contrast sharply with the unsaturated exposed concrete of the sculptural space and the solid white plastic used in the furniture. The Teatro Popular de Niterói by Oscar Niemeyer consists of a band-shaped concrete frame surrounded by a wall element that is clearly part of the interior. The envelope principle can be seen in its purest form in the Esherick House in Philadelphia, where Louis I. Kahn continued the wooden furniture and panelling of the interior in the facade, thus making it part of the furniture (Fig. 8). Here the building envelope forms a protective frame for facade fixtures, which are used from the inside as windows, cupboards or benches. Current examples of the use of this principle are the apartments
From classic Modernism to contemporary colour design
6 Villa Malaparte on Capri (I) 1940, Adalberto Libera. 7 Kunsthaus Graz (A) 2003, Peter Cook. 8 Esherick House in Philadelphia (US) 1961, Louis I. Kahn. 9 Apartments for the elderly in Chur-Masans (CH) 1993, Peter Zumthor. 10 Waldsiedlung (Onkel Toms Hütte) in Berlin (D) 1932, Bruno Taut. 11 Borneo-Sporenburg housing estate in Amsterdam (NL) 1996, West 8. 10
for the elderly in Chur-Masans by Peter Zumthor (Fig. 9) and Dupli.Casa, a villa near Ludwigsburg by Jürgen Mayer H. Architects.
along a grid of canals, follow strict rhythmical principles, while its colour design, which is also part of its adornment, creates the melody. The ornamental colour design is not a superfluous decoration, but has an important function. The buildings’ coloured structuring and ornamental differentiation denote status, thus generating both orientation and identity in public space. The colouring of gondolas to indicate rank continued until 1562, after which a ban ended the use of means of transport as a status symbol. Then as now, black gondolas fulfilled their primary purpose, but they offer observers few clues as to their owner’s identity. While a lack of symbolic qualities for the individual use of everyday items is relatively unproblematic, it clearly limits orientation possibilities and results in a loss of identity in urban space. The city of Venice never went as far as to pass a law standardising facades. The effects of an undifferentiated use of colour and arbitrary design were shown for the first time in the suburban housing estates and new Modernist cities that were built after the Second World War, consistently using industrial building methods. Bruno Taut was aware of the function of colour and used it to give his residential
The harmony principle Colour can be used to create structure and rhythm in large forms, such as facades, behind which there are sequences of similar usages. While the overall form determines this similar type of usage, the users’ individuality unfolds in the rhythm of shades and colour combinations, whose composition determines the effect of the structure as whole. Colour functions here as a gesture that emphasises and connects, but also suppresses, withdraws and separates. Users’ communicative and aesthetic needs for orientation and representation can be fulfilled by variations in surface colours that can be understood or overridden at the level of form. Just as every musical instrument creates a voice that can develop melody and rhythm, form and colour can be used as independent design elements. The overall design principle creates a harmony that holds the independent elements of form and colour together. The city of Venice is a good example of the harmony principle. Its buildings, set
developments a specific rhythm. The painted colour design of what is now a listed residential development (Onkel Toms Hütte) in a wooded area of the Berlin district of Zehlendorf evoked vehement protests in its day and still polarises opinion today (Fig. 10). The artistic interplay of colour harmonies cites striking shades from the surrounding natural landscape, thus creating places with a distinctive identity that help residents and visitors alike to find their way around. The painting serves the purposes of representation, but does not function as a status symbol because it reveals the principle of the sequence behind the facades. Where many identical units are laid out in rows, structuring them by means of colour offers a powerful design tool for creating individuality and orientation without functional compromises. The Borneo-Sporenburg housing development in Amsterdam shows how the principle of rhythm can be used to individualise form in a contemporary way (Fig. 11, p. 91). The minimalist principle The term “minimalism” found its way into the art, design and architecture movements of the 1960s. However, the mini-
From classic Modernism to contemporary colour design
malist use of the language of colour and form is a timeless principle of cultural development, characterised by a search for the essential and for the vital core of visual messages. The renunciation of embellishment, decoration, aphorism, metaphor and ornament is a recurring design principle in semantic and visual language as well as in architectural space. In classical rhetoric, decorum designates what is fitting or appropriate. Hence, the right degree of form and colour is relative and depends on the purpose in each individual case. Observers obtain exactly the right amount of information on the design of the colour and form of their environment when they can understand the message connected with its creation and use. Yet just as there is no generic observer, it is also not possible to define a general message. The minimum of visual information is accompanied by a reduction in content and an exact specification of the message. The minimalist principle is therefore easier to apply in works of art and design objects, whose purpose is designed more for specific groups of users than is the case with architecture. The intended use of buildings changes with the temporal and spatial transformation of societies. As a result, architecture must be versatile if it is to be sustainable and allow use to change over time. In contrast, art, because of its claim to authenticity and originality, should not be mutable. Form and colour must remain as unaltered as possible over generations and cultures. In architecture, this can lead to tensions because buildings are designed for everyday use, yet can also be works of art. It is thus no coincidence that minimalism always becomes a functional design strategy when the function can be clearly limited, as in the Barcelona Pavilion by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, which 92
became an exhibit in itself (Fig. 12). A minimalist use of colour is clearly recognisable here, as the treatment of the surfaces and the inherent colours of the natural materials contribute to the spatial effect in the same way as the open composition of forms. The surface’s undulating appearance creates a strong relationship between the natural materials of travertine and water that is clearly recognisable in the reflections. Serpentinite unfolds its ornamental effect outside, while onyx marble, which looks almost like a textile, forms the centre of this open building, thus allowing Mies van der Rohe to create a sublime demarcation between inside and outside. Peter Zumthor made a similarly minimalist use of colour and form in his thermal baths complex in Vals, with the entire object seeming to consist of a single block of stone (Fig. 13). The purpose is inscribed in the object. The interplay of forms on the surface of the water reflects the colours of the material of the surrounding spatial elements, which are modified by the play of light and shadow alone. Zumthor demonstrates the same minimalist consistency in his chapel of Saint Benedict in Sumvitg and in Kunsthaus Bregenz. The atmospheric principle The sun’s radiant energy, which makes life on earth viable, is invisible until it hits particles in the atmosphere and causes them to glow. People physically feel the atmosphere in changes of light and weather, as it engulfs the phenomenal world all the way to the horizon and fills the lungs with air. Depending on the humidity and temperature of particles in the air, the atmosphere condenses into colour spaces comprised of rain, snow, fog, haze or clouds, which substantially change the overall appearance of natural and built landscapes. The regulating influence of sunlight affects metabolic
processes in the human body and controls the rhythm of activities over the course of days and seasons. People can feel even slight changes in the atmosphere in their emotional and motivational reactions, as prompt perception of changes in the weather and intuitive behavioural adaptations were essential to survival for a long time. These intuitive reactions to changes in atmospheres play a crucial role in the perception of architectural spaces, which is why using light to present space can become a design principle. The atmospheric background of built space can change from cyan on sunny days to white or grey cloud formations and a magenta-coloured twilight into the lightless black of night. The colours of objects alter with every change in the atmosphere, so it is only possible to establish the inherent colour of materials through settings that determine in which light an object looks “normal”. In designing architecture, this procedure cannot normally be adopted because it almost never occurs in real life. This is why white lime-washed buildings look completely different under the high sun of the azure Mediterranean sky than they do in the North, where the sky’s basic colour is a dull grey for large parts of the year. This fundamental disparity arising from different light continues into the interiors of buildings, as the influence of atmospheres on the diverse regional development of colour cultures makes clear. A global look at the ongoing developments of modern architecture shows the influence of light on design and building culture. The atmospheric principle is based on a profound understanding of the situational interaction of colour, light and space, which must be investigated and evaluated by means of model-based studies in every project. The focus here is not on use, but on the user, whose
From classic Modernism to contemporary colour design
experience of and behaviour in architectural space is largely determined by the effects of atmospheres. Atmospheres are an inherent element of visual design in everything from image production, theatre and film to architecture. Places of religious worship still represent a special type of construction task. Furthermore, the quality of built space for all those who use and experience it can also be improved by designing its atmospheres systematically. Architecture’s tectonic effect is created by the design of the colours of light and solid bodies and of shadow that form in the relationship of all the structural elements defining the space and their openings to the sun. As in a Gothic cathedral, multi-coloured light pours into the interior of the Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp by Le Corbusier (Fig. 14). The arrangement and size of the deep embrasures of its many windows make it look like an entire spectrum of colours, whose atmospheric light makes the dimly lit sacred space ring. The atmospheric principle in Modernism is used in harmony with the chosen form principle, be it sculptural as in Le Corbusier’s work, cubic as in Tadao Ando’s Church of the Light in Ibaraki, fractal as in Gottfried Böhm’s Church of Mary, Queen of Peace, in VelbertNeviges, or abstract as in Steven Holl’s Chapel of St. Ignatius in Seattle (Fig. 15). A systematic atmospheric design can even turn secular buildings, such as Hans Scharoun’s Philharmonie in Berlin, Zaha Hadid’s Guangzhou Opera House or Santiago Calatrava’s Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias in Valencia, into modern places of worship. Conclusion Consistent colour design strategies can be found in all the main works in architectural history, where they decisively shape our perception of aesthetics and
the function of built space. The systematic use of colour in harmony with form as a design tool for designing images, objects and spaces was certainly not a discovery of Modernism, but the architects of Neues Bauen developed intersting and often seemingly timeless colour and form design principles that still influence the aesthetic and function of modern architecture and interiors today. All the Modernist design principles described here show a symbiotic use of colour and forms in space that was connected with their communicative intentions, aesthetic effects and technological possibilities from the outset. Notes:  Arnheim, Rudolf: Anschauliches Denken. Cologne 1969.  Düchting, Hajo: Farbe am Bauhaus. Berlin 1996.  Krampen, Martin; Hörmann, Günter: Die Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm – Anfänge eines Projektes der radikalen Moderne. Berlin 2003.  Albers, Josef: Interaction of Color. Princeton 2009.  Itten, Johannes: Die Kunst der Farbe. Ravensburg 2000 von Goethe, Johann Wolfgang: Zur Farbenlehre. Stuttgart 2003.  Kister, Johannes: Körper- und Raumkomposition. Cologne 2001.  Fonatti, Franco: Elementare Gestaltungsprinzipien in der Architektur. Vienna 1982.  Rüegg, Arthur (ed.): Le Corbusier. Polychromie architecturale. Farbenklaviaturen von 1931 und 1959. Basel 2006.
12 Pavilion in Barcelona (E) 1929, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. 13 Thermal baths complex in Vals (CH) 1996, Peter Zumthor. 14 Chapel of Notre Dame du Haut in Ronchamp (F) 1955, Le Corbusier. 15 Chapel of St. Ignatius in Seattle (USA) 1997, Steven Holl.
Examples of projects
Brandhorst Museum in Munich (D) Sauerbruch Hutton, Berlin Ingenieurbüro Fink, Berlin
University building in Paris (F) Périphériques architectes, Paris OTH Bâtiments, Paris
Jewish community centre in Mainz (D) Manuel Herz Architekten, Basel Arup, Düsseldorf
Secondary school in Eching (D) Diezinger & Kramer, Eichstätt Ostermair + Pollich, Freising
Flower market in Barcelona (E) WMA – Willy Müller, Barcelona Area 5, Barcelona
Museum and cultural centre in Aomori (J) molo design, Vancouver Frank la Rivière Architects, Tokyo d/dt Arch, Tokyo Kanebako Structural Engineers, Tokyo
Public housing in Paris (F) Hamonic + Masson, Paris SIBAT, Paris
Kindergarten in Monthey (CH) Bonnard Woeffray architectes, Monthey Kurmann & Cretton SA, Monthey
New town centre in Barking (GB) Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), London Buro Happold, London; Beattie Watkinson, London
Brandhorst Museum in Munich (D) 2
Sauerbruch Hutton, Berlin Matthias Sauerbruch, Louisa Hutton, Juan Lucas Young Structural engineering: Ingenieurbüro Fink, Berlin
For four decades, Udo and Anette Brandhorst collected 20th and early 21st century artworks, before setting up a foundation for their some 700 works and making them available to the State of Bavaria on permanent loan. To make these works of art accessible to a wide audience, a site originally planned for the expansion of the Pinakothek der Moderne was instead dedicated to the building of this new museum. From the outside, the texture of the facade cladding, which consists of glazed ceramic slats in various colours, shapes the appearance of the threestorey cubic construction. The building fills its elongated site, making the maximum use of the space allowed under current building regulations. The contrasting colours of the slats, which are arranged in groups of varying lightness, accentuate the facades, giving them a soft, multi-layered look. A horizontal band of windows halfway up the building with projecting elements that deflect light and an area of grating over the basement that can be walked on indicate to visitors that the museum houses something special in terms of the lighting inside the building. This expectation is met, as the sophisticated interconnection of the building’s interior spaces means that all its levels enjoy daylight. The architects planned the exhibition rooms as a series of classic, quiet spaces of a similar type but with different sizes and proportions – smaller on the ground floor, larger on the upper floor. A translucent foil ceiling lets in daylight and ensures that light is evenly distributed throughout the rooms. On the ground floor, light from the zenith passes into the rooms through exterior light-diffusing elements and hyperbolic ceilings.
Site plan Scale 1:10 000 Cross section Scale 1:1000 Vertical cross section Scale 1:20 1 2 3 4
Alte Pinakothek Neue Pinakothek Pinakothek der Moderne Brandhorst Museum
Examples of projects Brandhorst Museum in Munich (D)
5 Acoustic plasterboard panel 10 mm Mineral fibre insulation 30 mm Aluminium profile ﬁ 60/30 mm 6 Anti-glare roller blind, adjustable by motor 7 Solar protection blind, adjustable by motor 8 Insulating glazing, safety glass 6 mm + 10 mm b/w panes + float 4 mm + 8 mm b/w panes + laminated glass 12 mm 9 Insulating glazing, safety glass 4 mm + lightdeflecting prisms in acrylic glass, 10 mm b/w panes + laminated glass 8 mm 10 Steel bracket 11 Ceramic hollow profile cladding 40/40/9 mm; aluminium sheet, perforated 2 mm; acoustic membrane sub-structure, aluminium; mineral fibre insulation 120 mm, reinforced concrete 250 mm, wall heating system with outer wall 150 mm, interior plastering, 15 mm
University building in Paris (F)
Périphériques architectes, Paris Emanuelle Marin, Anne-Françoise Jumeau, David Trottin Assistants: Stéphane Razafindralambo, Sébastien Truchot Structural engineering: OTH Bâtiments, Paris
This building on the Jussieu Campus near the historical centre of Paris complements the university buildings built on a rigorous orthogonal grid by architect Édouard Albert in the 1960s for 45,000 students and researchers. The architects simultaneously continued and varied the existing system. Instead of a single inner courtyard, the new building has two, one covered with ETFE foil cushions. This atrium channels circulation throughout the building and forms a vertical spatial focus. Entering from the street, the entry level, a ramp bent and folded in several places, leads fluidly into the hall. The hall can be crossed by means of escalators and bridges on the upper floors. The access zones’ striking monochrome colouring, which varies according to their use, helps visitors to find their way around. Largeformat pre-cast concrete balustrades along the stairs and encircling galleries characterise the hall’s overall spatial impact. These elements’ weight and roughness contrasts with the building’s light facade cladding, which is made of aluminium panels perforated in various patterns that filter the daylight.
Site plan Scale 1:7500 Floor plan Scale 1:1500 Cross section Scale 1:750 Vertical cross section • horizontal cross section Scale 1:20 View of prefabricated element Scale 1:100 1 2 3
Plateau, existing building (Édouard Albert) Courtyard Atrium
Examples of projects University building in Paris (F)
4 Bevel, circumferential 5/5 mm 5 Prefabricated component reinforced concrete B 40, poured in a smooth-sanded steel form; surface facing the atrium natural colour, smooth; surface to the gallery coated with colour 120 mm 6 Coloured epoxy resin coating reinforced concrete 200 mm 7 Hanging light fixture 8 Steel screw socket for transport, filled in after installation 9 Recess at the edge, filled with grouting mortar after installation 10 Joint sealing, permanently elastic, black
Jewish community centre in Mainz (D)
Manuel Herz Architekten, Basel Assistants: Elitsa Lacaze, Hania Michalska, Michael Scheuvens, Peter Sandmann, Cornelia Redeker, Sven Röttger, Sonja Starke Structural engineering: Arup, Dusseldorf
An unusual, sculptural building gleams through the dense trees of the avenues of the 19th century Neustadt residential quarter in Mainz. The Jewish community centre was built on the site of the former main synagogue, which was destroyed during the pogrom of 9 –10 November 1938. Following the course of the street, the new building, a long band bent at various angles, responds to the perimeter block development. There is also a public square in front of the synagogue where the highest folding of the band bounds the building to the east. Its expressive silhouette was inspired by Kedushah, the Hebrew word for elevation or blessing. Here the word literally shapes the space, symbolising the great importance of the written word in Jewish history. This form and the iridescent, dark green ceramic element facade are the building’s main characteristics. Arranged in concentric patterns around the window openings, the ceramic elements, which are triangular in section, give the wall surfaces a three-dimensional perspective, and trick the eye. Some sections of the facade look as if they are slanting, although they are perpendicular. The hand-glazed ceramic cladding, with its diverse shadows, surprises observers. Depending on the fall of the light and your position, its colours range from almost black to a reflecting silver. The architect developed the basic elements in cooperation with ceramics expert Niels Dietrich and a ceramics manufacturer. The profile is an extruded element that is adapted to the building’s geometry by variations in its length and mitre angles. The elements were individually fixed to the substructure by aluminium brackets bonded at the back. Installed using the tongue-and-groove principle according to detailed layout plans, they clad the long side of the building, while the long zinc sheets on the roof are continued on its shorter sides. 100
Examples of projects Jewish community centre in Mainz (D)
10 Floor plan • cross section Scale 1:1000 Vertical cross section Scale 1:20 Ceramic element Scale 1:5 11 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
11 12 13
Entry Foyer Synagogue Events hall Kitchen Room for young people Kindergarten Garden /inner courtyard Roof structure: zinc sheet metal 1 mm, separating layer shuttering 24 mm, square timber 140/80 mm with 140 mm insulation in between; sealing, concealed bitumen sheeting; bitumen primer; reinforced-concrete ceiling 250 mm; gypsum plaster 20 mm Wall structure: ceramic element, triangular hollow profile, solid in part hand-glazed 150/95 mm, attached to a C-shaped bar with aluminium brackets, aluminium 30/60 mm, rear ventilation 35 mm; driving rain shield, plastic foil, without diffusion barrier, aluminium profile ∑ 40/60/3 mm; aluminium tube | 120/120/4 mm with 140 mm polystyrene insulation in between; reinforced concrete 250 mm; gypsum plaster 20 mm Aluminium sheet metal, powder-coated, 2 mm Safety glass in aluminium frames Floor structure: parquet flooring heating screed 60 mm, separating layer; polystyrene insulation, 80 mm; sealing; reinforced-concrete ceiling 300 mm; gypsum plaster 20 mm
Secondary school in Eching (D)
2 1 3
Diezinger & Kramer, Eichstätt Johannes Schulz-Hess (project architect), Diana Hollacher, Markus Knaller, Marcel Wendlik Structural engineering: Ostermair + Pollich, Freising
This secondary school designed to accommodate about 1,000 pupils is situated on the outskirts of Eching, a town to the north of Munich. Because of its rather unfavourable location between the suburban railway and a residential area far from the town centre, the architects designed the new building as a self-sufficient, urban site that is closely linked with the outdoor space. Its floor plan, which bends at right angles at various intervals, seems like an ensemble of several buildings and creates two internal open spaces – a forecourt and a schoolyard – both bounded on their
open side by steps. The central break hall links the two spaces and functions as the school’s centre, providing a space for breaks and events, a foyer, a meeting point and a junction. The hall’s continuation into the space of the two upper floors and large skylight gives it an open, spacious atmosphere. All the other areas of the school, such as the administration, gym, classrooms and special subject rooms, are located at short distances from the hall. The adjoining gym is set one storey lower to ensure proportionality appropriate to the site. Classrooms mainly face
south, while special subject rooms face west and north to take advantage of the diffuse light. Corridors in this section have various shapes with projections and recesses to enable students to use them during breaks. The school’s appearance is primarily characterised by its striking pink and yellow-green plastered facades. This colouration continues inside in the flooring and bathes the other surfaces, which are all in white, in a soft light.
Examples of projects Secondary school in Eching (D)
Site plan Scale 1:5000 Floor plan Scale 1:1500 Vertical cross section Scale 1:20
1 2 3 4 5
Main entrance Gym Schoolyard Special subject room Classroom
6 Gravel fill, 50 mm, Sealing Stainless-steel sheet, roll-seam welded, 0.4 mm Insulation, EPS foam 120 mm Vapour barrier, bitumen sheeting 4 mm, bitumen primer Reinforced concrete with a 260 mm gradient Suspended acoustic ceiling 7 Exterior insulation finishing system 110 mm Reinforced-concrete wall 250 mm 8 Pre-cast concrete component with thermally separated reinforcement connector 9 Hollow space, closed on the side 10 Cover plate, aluminium sheeting 4 mm 11 Sliding window, insulating glass 12 Sunken panel, aluminium sheet metal 2 mm 13 Flooring 2.5 mm Cement screed 60 mm, separating layer, PE foil Footfall sound insulation 40 mm, separating layer, PE foil Reinf.-concrete ceiling 260 mm, acoustic ceiling 14 Cable bushing, solar protection, drilled through
Flower market in Barcelona (E)
Architects: WMA – Willy Müller, Barcelona Structural engineering: Area 5, Barcelona
Barcelona’s new wholesale flower market is very close to the city’s airport. Seen from the air, you can recognise the irregular dark stripes of zinc sheeting that mark out its various large areas. This association with fields of grain is deliberate and the coloured strips along the bargeboard are designed to be reminiscent of flowers. Under the roof’s expressive folds are the entrances, loading zones and parking bays. The roof functions as an element uniting the three different market areas inside. These areas vary according to their use and requirements in terms of logistics
and design and technical equipment. The cut-flower section is equipped with cool rooms that can maintain a constant temperature between 2 °C and 15 °C. Because the flowers have to be sold within three days, throughput is greatest in this area, so there is a large delivery zone here. On the other side of the market, potted plants are bought and sold. These have to be sold within 15 days, so this section is designed not only as a sales floor but also as a storage area and greenhouse. The 4,000 m2 of heated industrial flooring and the passive cooling system, which also regulates humidity,
keeps the temperature between 15 °C and 26 °C. Between these two sections is the market for plant equipment, accessories and dried flowers, which require large storage areas. Tighter fire protection measures had to be implemented due to the high risk of fire, as shown by the experience with the previous building, which burned down in 2001.
Examples of projects Flower market in Barcelona (E)
Site plan Scale 1:7000 Cross section • floor plans Scale 1:2000 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Entrance Tickets Loading zone Cut flowers Dried flowers, plant equipment and accessories Potted plants Logistics Floristry school Restaurant Management Meeting room Wholesalers’ trade association Florists’ trade association Multi-purpose room
8 1011 12 9
5 6 a
Museum and cultural centre in Aomori (J)
14 4 a 5 15 13
3 6 Architects:
molo design, Vancouver Stephanie Forsythe, odd MacAllen Frank la Rivière Architects, Tokyo, Frank la Rivière d/dt Arch, Tokyo, Yasuo Nakata Structural engineering: Kanebako Structural Engineers, Tokyo
Like a coloured curtain, red bands of steel envelop the Nebuta Museum in the northern Japanese harbour city of Aomori. Behind them lie an exhibition hall, a theatre, rehearsal rooms and a restaurant. The cultural centre is dedicated to the Nebuta Matsuri Festival, one of Japan’s largest festivals, during which nebuta, colourful, handmade paper figures lit from inside that represent war heroes, animals and demons, are carried in a procession through the city on large floats. A 1:50 paper model served as a template for the facade, which consists of 748 red bands that were created in steel. Each band was individually bent by a machine developed specially for this purpose. Their various forms make some sections of the facade look closed, while others appear permeable and allow people inside the building to see out. At the top, the individual bands are aligned parallel to the edge of the roof and fan out at various angles at the bottom, depending on the fall of sunlight over the course of the day. Between these fixed points the bands turn on their own axes. Some are also bent to one side to create openings. The bands also demonstrate the material’s lightness and seem to move in the wind. Each of them is 12 metres high, 30 centimetres wide and 9 millimetres thick. They are hung from the top and flexibly attached at three other points to allow for thermal expansion and bending under wind loads. The facade’s shell creates a surrounding intermediate space that alludes to the traditional Japanese engawa, or veranda. It forms a threshold for visitors passing from the present into the world of history and the myths of the nebuta.
Examples of projects Museum and cultural centre in Aomori (J)
Floor plan Scale 1:1250 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Entrance Lobby Museum shop Restaurant /café Exhibition hall Engawa Rehearsal room Artists’ apartment Administration Exhibition Foyer Theatre Information Multi-purpose room Plenum Gallery
22 23 24
25 21 22
Vertical cross section Horizontal cross section Scale 1:20
17 Band, steel metal, galvanised lacquered 12,000/300/9 mm, edges bevelled to prevent wind noise 18 Panel, aluminium 1 mm C-profile, steel 100/50/2 mm 19 Sealing panel Insulation 50 mm Trapezoid sheet metal 75 mm Steel beam IPE 500 20 Reinforcing rib, flat steel, welded, galvanised 6 mm 21 Mounting plate, flat steel, 9 mm
22 23 24 25 26 27
Steel profile ﬁ 150/75/9 mm Steel profile ∑ 150/100/12 mm Steel profile Å 148/100/6 mm Elongated hole for flexible mounting Steel profile Å 100/100/6 mm Calcium silicate panel, hung, waterproof, painted in coats 8 mm 28 Steel profile Å 200/100/6 mm Punch hole Ø 80 mm, for drainage 29 Pressure bar, 2≈ steel profile } 100/50/6 mm 30 Steel profile ∑ 130/130/12 mm
Public housing in Paris (F)
Hamonic + Masson, Paris Gaelle Hamonic, Jean-Christophe Masson Associate architect: Marie-Agnès de Bailliencourt Structural engineering: SIBAT, Paris
As part of the restructuring of a large residential block between the Gare de Lyon and the Seine, this complex’s inner courtyard was upgraded and new buildings were added, with two tower-like buildings comprising 62 government-subsidised apartments replacing rows of buildings from the 1950s. The perimeter block, which is up to 16 storeys high, shields the courtyard from the busy Seine bank road, giving it a surprisingly quiet atmosphere that the design exploits by providing large balconies. Bands of balconies encircle the nine and twelve-storey high buildings and their diverse range of designs enlivens the appearance of the facades. Parapet-high safety barriers and floor-to-ceiling screen elements, glass panels and stainless steel mesh alternate on successive storeys. The north-facing facades, with their partial green metal cladding, and the lower tower’s concrete parapets glazed in green set further colour accents. The balconies’ layouts, which vary on every floor, and their layering, interrupts the buildings’ contours and breaks up their volume. Although the apartments directly above each other have the same floor plan, their differently designed balconies give them an individual look. French doors lead out from almost all the living rooms and bedrooms to large private outdoor areas, which, depending on the storey, are like observation platforms or protected loggias behind glass elements. The buildings’ filigree shell overcomes this heterogeneity very well. Reflective surfaces reinforce the impression of the buildings’ lightness and translucence and reflect daylight deep into the apartments. Their facades are clad with trapezoidal cross sections, with high-gloss stainless steel and matt aluminium alternating on successive storeys. The steel balconies’ silver glazed undersides also reflect light. 108
Examples of projects Public housing in Paris (F)
Site plan Scale 1:2500 Cross section • floor plan Scale 1:750 A
A Twelve-storey building B Nine-storey building
Building A Vertical cross section Scale 1:20
1 Sealing strip with integrated thin-film solar cells 4.6 mm; insulation 160 mm; vapour barrier 5 mm; sloping reinforced-concrete ceiling 2 Trapezoidal sheet metal, stainless steel, brightannealed, high-gloss 20 –75 mm; rear ventilation 20 mm; insulation, water-repellent 175 mm, concrete 180 mm; plaster 15 mm 3 Trapezoidal sheet metal, aluminium, powdercoated, 20 –75 mm 4 Aluminium sheeting, powder-coated 3 mm 5 Safety barrier, fixed laminated safety glass with 11 mm green PVB foil laminated into the glass, in steel frames 6 Polyurethane synthetic resin coating, silver, water-repellent; pre-cast reinforced-concrete slab 235 mm, silver-glazed underside 7 Insulated reinforcement connection 8 Stainless-steel sheeting, bright-annealed, 2 mm 9 Steel silver-grey enamelled posts, 60/15 mm; handrail, steel profile 60/10 mm, Ø 16 mm steel bar 10 Double glazing in plastic frames
2 8 10 9
Kindergarten in Monthey (CH)
Bonnard Woeffray architectes, Monthey Associate architect: Nuno Ferreira Structural engineering: Kurmann & Cretton SA, Monthey
In Monthey near Lake Geneva, a new kindergarten was built in the Cinquantoux Park on the site of a former villa. The building’s almost organic volume with a heterogeneous, slightly sloping roof integrates it well into the surrounding groups of trees. The polychrome striped facade made of vertical wooden slats in bright pink, orange, red and green provides coloured accents, tempting visitors into the children’s world. Extending over two floors, the kindergarten consists of six separate units and can accommodate around 180 children. Each unit is divided into one area for activities and another for peace and quiet that are separated by a core housing the washrooms and toilets. The bright colours of the building’s shell continue inside. Every unit has its own colour, giving each of them a unique, distinctive character. The monochrome ceilings and floors create a rhythmical sequence and contrast with the walls’ rough exposed brickwork. Large windows ensure that the rooms are filled with light and the varying positions of the windows give all age groups an opportunity to look out into the park’s green spaces.
Floor plan Scale 1:500 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
Foyer Prams Secretary’s office Office Meeting room Dining room Kitchen Terrace Storeroom Group room Washroom / WC Quiet and sleeping areas
11 7 10
Examples of projects Kindergarten in Monthey (CH)
Horizontal cross section • Vertical cross section Scale 1:20
13 Roof sealing Foam glass insulation 200 mm Reinforced-concrete ceiling 200 mm 14 Wooden planks, vertical 200/20 mm, Coloured polyurethane coating Counter battens, horizontal 45/30 mm, wind barrier Mineral wool insulation 80 + 80 mm Brick masonry 175 mm 15 Fixed glazing safety glass 4 mm + 16 mm b/w panes + safety glass 4 mm in wood frames 16 Perforated metal sheeting, aluminium 3 mm, beige, powder-coated 17 Linoleum floor, 3 mm, cement screed, 77 mm Footfall sound insulation, 20 mm, separating layer Reinforced concrete 250 mm 18 Casement window, double glazing, safety glass 4 mm + 16 mm b/w panes + safety glass 4 mm 13
New town centre, Barking (GB) 3 2 1 4 5
Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM), London Structural engineering: Buro Happold, London Beattie Watkinson, London
Revitalising the centre of Barking to the east of London has been one of the United Kingdom’s most important redevelopment projects of recent years. A masterplan was carried out over nine years in two construction phases. During the first phase, the library dating from the 1970s was renovated and extended to include an art gallery and conference rooms. A six-storey residential building on the adjoining former Rope Works factory site completes the ensemble, which contains 246 one and two-bedroom apartments. Phase two involved the construction of a 66-bed hotel, a shopping centre, a bike parking facility and three residential buildings – Bath House, Lemonade Building and Axe Street. A public square with a park-like arboretum serves as a meeting place and focal point of the new town centre. Although all the buildings in the complex are highly individual in form and design, they are united by a shared colour palette that draws on two sources. The first is the arboretum, which takes its range of colours from the various colours of the leaves that vary according to the season. The other inspiration was the yellow and green striped logo of the former R. White’s Lemonade factory. The uniform brown brick facade of Bath House is accentuated by balconies in autumnal colours such as ochre and purple. In contrast, the Rope Works above the library makes use of the colours of springtime, with compact balconies painted in pastel green and bright yellow. This range of colours was also used on the 17-storey Lemonade Building apartment block, whose loggias on the side of the building are clad with green and yellow panels, contrasting with the restrained beige of its brick facade.
Examples of projects New town centre, Barking (GB)
Site plan Scale 1:2000 View from the north no scale Detailed cross section, Bath House facade scale 1:20 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Arboretum Bath House residential building Piano Works residential building Lemonade high-rise residential building Library and Rope Works residential building Learning Centre Bike parking facility Axe Street residential building
9 Cover plate, aluminium 10 Brick facing, brown brick 102 mm, Ibstock Cheddar, rear-ventilated, special joints every 4 bricks Substructure, stainless steel Insulation 50 mm Fibre-cement panel 10 mm Insulation 100 mm 11 French doors: insulating glazing in combination frames, outside powder-coated aluminium, inside wood 12 Railings, flat steel, galvanised, powder-coated 10/40 mm 13 Balcony flooring, pinewood planks, grooved 144/27 mm 14 Aluminium sheeting on fibre-cement supporting slab 12.5 mm 15 Substructure, steel frame, galvanised 180 mm 16 Plasterboard stud wall 2≈ 12.5 mm
Authors Axel Buether Trained as a stone mason; studied architecture, gaining a doctorate in the interdisciplinary area of neuropsychology and design with a thesis on the semiotics of perceptual space; worked on architecture, design and media art projects; appointed in 2006 as director of the Deutsches Farbenzentrum e. V. – Zentralinstitut für Farbe in Wissenschaft und Gestaltung, an interdisciplinary association that has hosted international conferences, held competitions and provided education and training on colour for 50 years; served as Professor of Colour, Light and Space at Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle (Saale) from 2006 to 2012; declined an appointment in 2012 as a professor at Hochschule Hannover – the University of Applied Sciences and Arts for the subject of creativity and the psychology of perception; has worked as a professor at the University of Wuppertal since 2012, teaching the Didactics of Visual Communication (www.axelbuether.de). Anke Augsburg Studied design, majoring in sculpture, at Burg Giebichenstein Kunsthochschule Halle (Saale) from 1990 to 1996; then studied engineering for lighting design at Hildesheim /Holzminden /Göttingen University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HAWK); has run her own lighting design and planning firm in Leipzig since 2005 (www.lichtarchitekten.com). Thomas Danzl Trained as an ecclesiastical painter; studied art history and history at the University of Florence; completed professional advanced training at ICCROM in Rome and Opificio delle Pietre Dure in Florence; continued his studies at the University of Udine, focusing on conservation and architectural preservation; completed a doctorate in art history and history at Universität Regensburg from 1994 to 1997; served as director of the Restoration Department of the State Office for Architectural Conservation and Archaeology in Saxony-Anhalt from 1998 to 2006; director of the restoration workshops of the Austrian Federal Monuments Office from 2006 to 2008; appointed honorary professor in 2007 and professor in 2009 at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts; director of the specialist course on art technology, conservation and restoration of murals, and colours in architecture. Andreas Kalweit Studied mechanical engineering at the Hochschule Niederrhein – University of Applied Sciences; studied industrial design at the University of DuisburgEssen; co-founded an agency in 1998 and has worked successfully since then in the field of industrial and corporate design for renowned international companies; holds a teaching position at the University of Wuppertal; with his dual qualifications as a mechanical engineer and a graduate industrial designer, now works at the interface between design and engineering for industry and on research projects; his work focuses on manufacturing and materials technology and on construction technology and systems in industrial design. AnneMarie Neser Studied art history, history and political science in Heidelberg and Berlin (M. A.); completed her dissertation at Berlin University of the Arts (architecture), supervised by Professor Johann Friedrich Geist; director of Werkraum Berlin and teacher at the Haus der Farbe Zurich and the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam; board member of the Deutsches Farbenzentrum; freelance work as an architectural history expert, author and management consultant.
Timo Rieke Studied social science at the University of Göttingen from 1995 to 1998; moved to the design faculty at Hildesheim /Holzminden /Göttingen University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HAWK) in 1998; graduated as a colour designer in 2003 and opened his own studio in Hanover, focusing on basic research on colour, colour consulting, surface design and graphic design; moved his studio to Vienna in 2006; has taught colour design at HAWK since 2011, with a focus on basic principles, product colour and colour planning; founded the interdisciplinary Visual Haptics Labs in Hamburg in 2012. Lino Sibillano Studied art history, theatre and music at the universities of Zurich and Bern; worked as an assistant at Collegium Helveticum, a laboratory for transdisciplinarity at ETH Zurich (including managing the Artist-in-Residence Programme) from 1998 to 2001; as a result of this experience co-founded PROJEKT ART+, a laboratory for interdisciplinary and intercultural artistic collaboration, with Darko Senekovic in 2004; the virtual platform www.citysharing.ch developed from this initiative; has worked as codirector and lecturer at the Haus der Farbe in Zurich since 2001. Axel Venn Studied design and free composition with Professor E. Hitzberger at Folkwang University of the Arts in Essen; Emeritus Professor of Colour Design and Trend-scouting at Hildesheim University of Applied Sciences and Arts, Design Faculty; frequent guest speaker at numerous universities all over the world; enjoys an international reputation as a colour, marketing and aesthetics mentor; staff member of organisations, associations, industrial and commercial enterprises, conference and management consulting companies; conducts international lectures and seminars and has published diverse journalistic works internationally. Marcella Wenger-Di Gabriele Attended a technical design college and completed vocational training as a designer in Bern; trained as a colour designer at Technikerschule HF Zürich from 1995 to 1998; works as a freelance designer and colour design teacher; has served as head of the teaching workshop at the Haus der Farbe – Schule für Handwerk und Gestaltung in Zurich since 2011. Stefanie Wettstein Studied art history at the University of Zurich; completed her doctoral thesis on decorative painting at the turn of the 20th century in 1996; worked on the building research team at Fontana & Fontana AG in Jona-Rapperswil from 1986 to 1999; worked as assistant to Professor Werner Oechslin at the Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture at ETH Zurich from 1993 to 1997; has served as codirector of the Haus der Farbe – Schule für Handwerk und Gestaltung in Zurich since 1999; has cowritten various publications on the topic of colour design in architecture with Lino Sibillano as part of the research workshop at the Haus der Farbe.
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Selected manufacturers and companies The manufacturers mentioned in the book and in the following lists represent a selection of potential suppliers. None of this information is offered as an explicit recommendation, but is provided only as a series of examples and does not claim to be exhaustive. The companies on page 116 make specific products that are not usually available from a building supplies shop; the companies on page 117 represent the general standard.
Company / institution
Product / service
General overview of material colours / materials databases: BASF SE BAYER Materia B.V. Material Archiv Material ConneXion Cologne Materialise Materialsgate Musterkiste Nawaro ® BioEnergy AG raumPROBE OHG Stylepark AG
www.basf.com/group/corporate/designfabrik/de www.sampleexplorer.com www.materia.nl www.materialarchiv.ch www.materialconnexion.com www.materialise.com www.materialsgate.de www.musterkiste.de www.nawaro.com www.raumprobe.de www.stylepark.com/de/material
Advice on materials and processing Materials database Materials database Materials database Materials database Materials database Materials database Materials database Renewable raw materials Materials database Inspiration from design culture
Paints, varnishes and pigments: A. Haussmann Theaterbedarf GmbH Beeck’sche Farbwerke Beeck GmbH & Co. KG Berlac AG CLAYTEC e.K Färgbygge Sweden AB Keimfarben GmbH & Co. KG Kreidezeit Naturfarben GmbH Kremer Pigmente GmbH & Co. KG kt.COLOR die Farbmanufaktur Deutschland Merck KGaA Noris Blattgold GmbH SURFACE & MATERIAL e. K. The Little Greene Paint Company Limited
www.ahaussmann.com www.beeck.com www.berlac.ch/en www.claytec.de www.fargbygge.com www.keimfarben.de www.kreidezeit.de/Frameset/index.htm www.kremer-pigmente.de/de www.ktcolor.ch www.merck-performance-materials.com www.noris-blattgold.de www.tafelfarben.de www.littlegreene.eu
Theatre and special effects pigments Mineral paints; specialised in architectural conservation Elastic paints and coatings (e.g. for ski goggles) Coloured clay plaster and clay paints Slamfärg: facade paint for traditional Swedish wooden houses Earth, mineral and spinel pigments Historical pigments, coloured glass powder, plant-based paints Pigment colours, historical ranges of colour Paints, printing, plastics Specialises in gold leaf and silver products Specialises in magnet board, blackboard and whiteboard colours Traditional English shades
Plaster and construction materials: Farrow & Ball Fielitz GmbH frescolori.de GmbH handmade S.a.r.l. Josef Grabner Furniere GmbH Krichex- und Öko-Dekor-Vertriebszentrale G. Miksits Luccon Lichtbeton GmbH Röben Brick-Design Spring Color S.R.L.
www.farrow-ball.com www.fielitz.de www.frescolori.de www.handmade-calcare.com www.praegemassivholzplatten.com www.miksits.at www.luccon.de/de www.brick-design.de www.springcolor.de
Mineral paints Textured metal sheeting and light structural elements Limestone and marble plaster for walls, floors and wet rooms Coloured fine hydrated lime plasters Special wooden surfaces; solid and old growth timber Dyeable, liquid, biologically-based cotton plaster Translucent concrete Individual bricks with structured surfaces Traditional Italian stucco lustro
Surfaces and coverings: acrylic couture GbR Alphenberg Anne Kyyrö Quinn Bolon AB Cocomosaic Danzer Services Schweiz AG Freund GmbH Innofa BV Kvadrat GmbH MIDAS Surfaces GmbH Nya Nordiska Textiles GmbH Offecct PROCÉDÉS CHÉNEL INTERNATIONAL S.A.R.L. Wallenstein-Manufaktur GmbH & Co. KG
www.acrylic-couture.com www.alphenberg.com www.annekyyroquinn.com www.bolon.com/de www.cocomosaic.com www.danzer.com freundgmbh.com/de www.innofa.com/stretchtextiles www.kvadrat.dk www.midassurfaces.de www.nya.com/de/content/nya-walls www.offecct.se/en/products/acoustic-panels www.germany.chenel.com/de www.wallenstein-manufaktur.de
Individual acrylic glass products Leather floor and wall tiles Handmade 3D felt wall coverings Woven vinyl floor coverings Wall coverings made of coconut-shell tiles 3D wooden veneers Wall surfaces made of coloured moss, cork etc. Upholstery fabrics made of knitted stretch fabrics 3D textile module systems that can be flexibly assembled Seamless metal surfaces and coatings Textile wall panels Textile wall panels with effective acoustic properties Paper ceilings, screens and lighting elements Surface finishes
Wallpapers: Architects Paper A.S. Création Tapeten AG Berlintapete GmbH Vertriebsgesellschaft DEDAR S.p.A. Élitis extratapete GmbH InCréation Movisi GmbH PONGS Textiles GmbH
www.architects-paper.com/technische-tapeten/ www.berlintapete.de www.dedar.com www.elitis.fr www.extratapete.de www.increation-online.com www.movisi.com/de/pages/product_tears_off www.pongs.de/textiles-deco
Sandstein Concept GmbH & Co. KG Stones like Stones GmbH Wall&decò S.r.l. Welter Manufaktur für Wandunikate
www.sandstein-concept.de www.stoneslikestones.de www.wallanddeco.com www.welter-wandunikate.de
LED, stone and concrete wallpapers, magnetic wallpapers Individually printed photo and designer wallpapers Textile wallpapers and designer materials Wallpaper with various looks and feels Graphic and photo wallpapers Photo wallpapers, individual wall and ceiling wallpapers Modular wallpapers with prefabricated perforation Digitally printable textiles wall and covering systems, fabric and metal wallpapers Wallpapers with a thin layer of sandstone Natural slate, rust and concrete wallpaper (“roll-out concrete”) Vinyl wallpaper with large-format graphic designs Handmade wallpapers
Selected colour products:
General overview of colour systems: RAL gGmbH Pantone LLC HKS Warenzeichenverband e.V. Munsell Color NCS Colour GmbH
www.ral.de www.pantone.de www.hks-farben.de www.munsell.com www.ncscolour.com/de
Selected colour products: Paints, varnishes and pigments: Akzo Nobel Deco GmbH Alligator Farbwerke GmbH Alpina Farben Vertriebs-GmbH & Co. KG AURO Pflanzenchemie Aktiengesellschaft BASF Coatings AG Biofa-Naturprodukte W. Hahn GmbH Brillux GmbH & Co. KG Caparol Farben Lacke Bautenschutz GmbH Chemische Fabrik Harold Scholz GmbH & Co. KG Dinova GmbH & Co. KG Dracholin GmbH Farben, Edelputze, WDV-Systeme einzA Lackfarbrik GmbH Europäisches Colour Centrum GmbH G. E. Habich’s Söhne GmbH & Co. KG griwecolor Farben Beschichtungen GmbH Herbol – Akzo Nobel Deco GmbH imparat Farbwerke Iversen & Mähl GmbH & Co. KG IRSA Lackfabrik Irmgard Sallinger GmbH JONAS Farbenwerke GmbH & Co. KG Karl Klenk GmbH & Co. Farben- und Lackfabrik Kremer Pigmente GmbH & Co. KG Livos Pflanzenchemie GmbH & Co. KG Meffert AG Farbwerke ProfiTec Paul Jaeger GmbH & Co. KG Relius Coatings GmbH & Co. KG Schulz GmbH Farben- und Lackfabrik Sigma Coatings Farben- und Lackwerke GmbH Sikkens (Akzo Nobel Deco GmbH) Silinwerk van Baerle & Co. Sto AG Uzin Utz AG Wacker-Chemie GmbH Wema Flüssigtapete Wulff GmbH & Co. KG
www.akzonobel.de www.alligator.de www.alpina-farben.de www.auro.de www.basf-coatings.de www.biofa.de www.brillux.de www.caparol.de www.harold-scholz.de www.dinova.de www.dracholin.de www.einza.com www.ncscolour.com/de www.habich.de www.griwecolor.de www.herbol.de www.imparat.de www.irsa.de www.jonas-farbenwerke.de www.bakolor.de www.kremer-pigmente.de www.livos.de www.profitec.de www.jaegerlacke.de www.relius.de www.schulz-farben.de www.sigmacoatings.de www.sikkens.de www.van-baerle.com www.sto.de www.uzin-utz.com www.wacker.com www.wema-fluessigtapete.de www.wulff-gmbh.de
Plaster and construction materials: alsecco Bauchemische Produkte GmbH & Co. KG Baumit GmbH cd-color GmbH & Co. KG CLAYTEC e. K. Lehmbaustoffe Daxorol Putz und Farben GmbH FEMA Putz und Farben GmbH Knauf Gips KG quick-mix Gruppe GmbH & Co. KG Resopal GmbH Rigips GmbH Saint-Gobain Weber GmbH Schwarzwälder Edelputzwerk GmbH Schwenk Putztechnik GmbH & Co. KG
www.alsecco.de www.baumit.de www.cd-color.de www.claytec.de www.daxorol-putze.de www.fema.de www.knauf.de www.quick-mix.de www.resopal.de www.rigips.de www.sg-weber.de www.schwepa.com www.schwenk-putztechnik.de
Surfaces and coverings: Armstrong DLW GmbH Carpet Concept debolon dessauer bodenbeläge GmbH & Co. KG Forbo Flooring GmbH Tarkett Holding GmbH
www.armstrong.de www.carpet-concept.de www.debolon.de www.forbo-flooring.de www.tarkett.de
Wallpapers / textiles: MARBURGER TAPETENFABRIK Création Baumann AG
Image credits The authors and publisher would like to sincerely thank everyone who helped to create this book by providing us with their images, granting reproduction rights and contributing information. All the drawings in this work were produced especially for it. Photographs that have not been credited were taken from the architects’ archives or the Detail magazine’s archive. Despite intensive efforts, we were not able to identify all the copyright holders of all the photographs and images, but the rights of the copyright holders to them remain reserved. Please contact us if you have any information on this issue.
Page 6 Studio Besau-Marguerre Page 8 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Josef_Albers (retrieved in January 2014) Page 8 © The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Page 9, left http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Häuser_ in_L’Estaque (retrieved in January 2014) Page 9, right, 12, 13 Axel Buether, Wuppertal Page 10 User-Tó campos1/wikipedia Page 11, top George Pohl / The Architectural Archives, University of Pennsylvania Page 11, bottom ©Roberto Schezen / Esto Page 14, left Arto Hakola /shutterstock Page 14, right larus /shutterstock Page 15, top Christian Schittich, Munich Page 15, bottom chungking /shutterstock Page 16, 17 Thomas Jantscher, Colombier Page 18 Florian Aicher, Leutkirch Page 20 www.rawcolor.nl Page 21 Cornbread Works, Utrecht Page 22, left Axel Hausberg, Bad Neuenahr Page 22, right DuPont™ Corian ® Deutschland Page 23, left; page 27, above Kalweit, Andreas (ed.) et al.: Handbuch für Technisches Produktdesign. Material und Fertigung, Entscheidungsgrundlagen für Designer und Ingenieure. Springer Verlag, Heidelberg 2012 Page 23, right Firma Leolux Meubelfabriek B. V., Venlo Page 24, left Wacker Chemie AG Page 24, right Jan Bitter / Stahl-Informations-Zentrum Page 25, left Dürr Systems GmbH Page 25, right Fachzeitschrift HOLZ / HW-Verlag Page 26, left www.drawin.de/dasat/images/6/ 100446-tampondruck.jpg (retrieved in January 2014) Page 26, right Koelnmesse Page 27, bottom RKW Architektur + Städtebau Page 28, left LANXESS Deutschland GmbH Page 28, right Colt International GmbH – www.colt-info.de Page 29, top left Osram GmbH Page 29, first from the top right Studio Frederik Molenschot Page 29, second and third from the top right Material ConneXion Page 29, fourth from the top right Jan Oelker, Radebeul Page 29, fifth from the top right http://www.baunetzwissen.de/imgs/53192727_df3ffebe0b.jpg (retrieved in January 2014) Page 30 Resopal GmbH Page 31, top freshfiber.com Page 31, centre LandPrint.com Page 31, bottom Designstudie der Röben Tonbaustoffe GmbH Page 32 Studio Olafur Eliasson Page 33; page 34, bottom; page 35, top RAL gGmbH Page 34, top Axel Venn / RAL gGmbH Page 35, bottom; pages 36 and 37, top Axel Venn, Berlin Page 37, bottom Arne Jennard / Concept & design: Creneau International, Hotel Interior: Voglauer hotel concept / Radisson Blu Hotel Amsterdam, Shiphol
Pages 38 and 39 Lino Sibillano, Zurich Pages 40 and 41 Marcella Wenger-Di Gabriele, Köniz Page 42 Fabienne Rüedi, Laupen Page 43 Anne-Lise Coste: Oh, mummy’ pink blanket. 2003, pencil drawing, coloured with marker, 21 ≈ 29.7 cm Page 44, left Ulrike Morlock-Fien, Karlsruhe Page 44, right Eva Schönbrunner, Munich Page 45, left Studio Olafur Eliasson Page 45, right Wolfgang Günzel, Offenbach Page 46 Timo Rieke, Hildesheim Page 47, left Masayoshi Hichiwa Page 47, right Gary Andrew Clarke, Manchester Page 48, top © Enric Miralles – Benedetta Tagliabue EMBT Page 49, top left OMA, Rotterdam Page 49, top right Christian Richters, Berlin Page 49, bottom left www.rawcolor.nl Page 49, bottom centre Studio Besau-Marguerre Page 49, bottom right Colour Concept Design Hella Jongerius /© Jongeriuslab Pages 50 and 53 based on: Fördergemeinschaft Gutes Licht (FGL) Page 51, left Peter Bartenbach, Aldrans Page 51, right; page 54, top left; page 57 Anke Augsburg, Leipzig Page 54, top right Uwe Frauendorf, Leipzig Page 54, bottom left Wolfgang Günzel, Offenbach am Main Page 54, bottom right Udo Beier, Uhldingen Page 55, top LED-ColourLab – Zürcher Hochschule der Künste Page 55, Fig. 13 a – d based on: NARVA Lichtquellen GmbH + Co. KG, Brand-Erbisdorf Pages 56 and 58, right; page 59 Katia Klose, Leipzig Page 60; pages 80 – 83; page 85, left; page 85, centre; page 86, right; page 87 AnneMarie Neser, Berlin Page 61; pages 63 – 67 Haus der Farbe, Zurich Page 62 Christoph Gysin / Denkmalpflege Thurgau Pages 68 and 69 J. J. Nobs / Denkmalpflege Thurgau Page 70 Brigida González, Stuttgart. © FLC / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Page 72, top left, top right; page 73; page 74, bottom; pages 76 and 79 Thomas Danzl, Dresden Page 72, top right © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Page 72, bottom Koch, Carl: Schmückende und gestaltende Farbe. Leipzig / B. G. Teubner / Berlin 1932, Tafel VI Page 74, top Doreen Ritzau / Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Page 74, bottom © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Page 75, top Baumanns neue Farbtonkarte. System Prase. Aue in Sachsen 1912 Page 75, bottom Peter Schöne, Halle an der Saale Page 76 © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Page 77, top Wolfgang Thöner, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Page 77, bottom Doreen Ritzau, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau Page 78, left Rudolf de Sandalo / © strandfilm, Pandora Film Verleih Page 78, right David Zidlicky, Brno. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Page 84 Darko Senekovic Page 85, right Ralf Schüler, Berlinische Galerie, 2011 Page 86, left TU-Pressestelle / Böck Page 88 © 2006 Mondrian / Holtzman Trust Page 89, top left Kim Zwarts, Maastricht. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Page 89, top right Adam Mørk, Copenhagen Page 89, bottom left Brigida González, Stuttgart Page 90, top left themodernhouseblog.net/ tag /1930s/(retrieved in January 2014) Page 90, top right Frank Kaltenbach, Munich Page 90, bottom left Ludvík Koutný
Page 90, bottom right Jörn Schiemann/flickr.com Page 91, top Axel Buether, Wuppertal Page 91, bottom Zoe Toseland / flickr.com Page 92, left Zimmermann, Claire: Mies van der Rohe. Cologne 2006, p. 43. © VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Page 92, right Hélène Binet, London Page 93, left Rory Hyde, Melbourne © FLC / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2013 Page 93, right joe mabel/wikimedia Pages 94, 112 and 113 Tim Soar, London Pages 96 and 97 Annette Kisling, Berlin Pages 98 and 99 Luc Boegly, Paris Page 100; page 101, centre Christian Schittich, Munich Page 101, top Ivan Baan, Amsterdam Pages 102 and 103 Stefan Müller-Naumann, Munich Page 104; page 105, top left Ricardo Loureiro, Porto Page 105, top right Hisao Suzuki, Barcelona Page 106; page 107, bottom left Stephanie Forsythe / molo design Page 107, top; page 107, bottom right Frank la Rivière, Tokyo Page 108; page 109, bottom Sergio Grazia, Paris Page 109, top Claudia Fuchs, Munich Pages 110 and 111 Hannes Henz, Zurich
Photos on chapter title pages Page 6: Experimental study on colour and materials, Studio Besau Marguerre Page 20: Tinctorial Textiles, Raw Color Page 32: Your rainbow panorama, installation by Olafur Eliasson, Aarhus (DK) 2011 Page 60: Row of houses, Augustinergasse, Zurich Page 70: Semi-detached house in the Weissenhof housing estate, Stuttgart (D) 1927, Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret Page 94: New town centre, Barking (GB) 2010, Allford Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM)
Index 3D printers
Absorption ∫ 53 Abstraction principle ∫ 88 Abstraction process ∫ 10 Achromatic colours ∫ 7 Acrylic paints ∫ 24 Additive colour mixing ∫ 33f., 54f. Advertising ∫ 9 Aesthetic presentation ∫ 75 Aesthetic prevention ∫ 76 Analysis ∫ 40f. Anecdotal-iconic colour concept ∫ 47f. Applied colour ∫ 72 Architectural conservation ∫ 72f. Artificial light ∫ 12, 56 Atmospheric principle ∫ 92 Basic colour principle ∫ 12f. Basic colour scheme ∫ 64 Basic colour signals ∫ 12 Bauhaus training ∫ 18 Blue-yellow channel ∫ 12 Brushes ∫ 25 Ceramics ∫ 28 Chromatic-achromatic contrast ∫ 45 Chromatic colours ∫ 7 Coatings ∫ 23 Code system ∫ 14 Coding ∫ 8 Cold-warm contrast ∫ 45 Colour aesthetics ∫ 38 Colour and material profile ∫ 63 Colour classifications, systematic ∫ 39 Colour code ∫ 14, 16 Colour coding systems ∫ 8 Colour collections ∫ 33ff. Colour composition ∫ 17 Colour contrasts ∫ 45 Colour concepts ∫ 38, 62 - anecdotal-iconic ∫ 47f. - optical ∫ 44f. - sensual-haptic ∫ 45ff. - systematic ∫ 48f. Colour constancy ∫ 12 Colour culture ∫ 62, 67, 69 Colour decisions ∫ 61, 66 Colour design ∫ 8, 14, 88 Coloured light ∫ 54 Colour effect ∫ 47 Colour elements ∫ 66 Colour eras ∫ 65 Colourfulness ∫ 7 Colour guidance systems ∫ 13 Colour hunting ∫ 48 Colour identity ∫ 68 Colour in architecture ∫ 73 Colouring ∫ 68 Colour in the city ∫ 63 Colour in the countryside ∫ 67 “Colour intoxication” ∫ 38f. Colour inventory ∫ 40 Colour language ∫ 14f., 88 Colour maps ∫ 67f. Colour masterplans ∫ 48f. Colour mixing, additive /subtractive ∫ 33f., 54f. Colour perception ∫ 7, 12f., 37 Colour philosophy ∫ 33 Colour portraits ∫ 64 Colour registers ∫ 35f. Colour reproduction ∫ 52f., 55, 59 Colour structures ∫ 17 Colour swatches ∫ 34, 36 - Zurich colour swatches ∫ 64 Colour systems ∫ 33ff. Colour theory ∫ 88 Communication ∫ 13, 41, 43f. - visual ∫ 9, 18 Complementary contrast ∫ 12 Concept development ∫ 75 Conservation ∫ 73f., 78 Continuous spectrum ∫ 55, 59
Contrast - cold-warm contrast ∫ 45 - complementary contrast ∫ 12 - contrast boundaries ∫ 11 - contrast effects ∫ 10f. - contrast principle ∫ 12 - light-dark contrast ∫ 45 Consultancy and planning instruments ∫ 61, 63 Customisation ∫ 29 Daylight ∫ 12, 56 Depth information ∫ 12 Deposition ∫ 26 Design regulations ∫ 91 Design tools ∫ 8, 18 Detailed concept ∫ 42 Discontinuous spectrum ∫ 55, 59 Distemper ∫ 24 Dyeing ∫ 27 Ecological footprint ∫ 23 Electrostatic spray painting ∫ 25 Elastic paints ∫ 23 Enamelling ∫ 25 Envelope principle ∫ 90 Evaporation ∫ 26 Experiments ∫ 48 Eye tracking ∫ 10 Facade design ∫ 61 Fluidised bed coating ∫ 25 Form, theory of ∫ 88 Form, principle of ∫ 90 Glazes ∫ 24 Haptics of colour ∫ 90 Harmony principle ∫ 91 Historical painting techniques ∫ 71 HKS ∫ 36 Hydrographics (water-transfer printing) ∫ 26 ICOMOS ∫ 73 Illuminants ∫ 58 In-mould decoration ∫ 27 Inside-outside principle ∫ 89 Inherent value of colour ∫ 72 Investigation ∫ 75 Jugendstil (Art Nouveau) Key stimuli
Light-dark channel ∫ 12 Light-dark contrast ∫ 45 Light generation ∫ 55 Lighting concept ∫ 56ff. Lighting design ∫ 50f. Lighting direction ∫ 54, 58 Lighting focuses ∫ 57 Light phenomena ∫ 52f. Lighting planning ∫ 50f., 56 Lighting positions ∫ 57 Lighting scenarios ∫ 56, 58 Lightness ∫ 7 Lime wash ∫ 24 Luminous colours ∫ 7, 52f. Maintaining the image of a town or village ∫ 67 Maintenance ∫ 74 Marketing ∫ 9 Mass customisation ∫ 29 Materially aesthetic coherence ∫ 76 Material appropriateness ∫ 71 Material authenticity ∫ 71 Material colour ∫ 72, 88 Metals ∫ 28 Metal foils ∫ 26 Mineral materials ∫ 28 Minimalist principle ∫ 92 Misperceptions ∫ 18 Mixed colours ∫ 12 Modernism ∫ 72f., 76, 88ff. Munsell colour system ∫ 34f.
Natural colour ∫ 8, 16, 90 NCS (Natural Color System) ∫ 35 Non-luminous colours ∫ 7, 52 Optical colour concept Orientation ∫ 7, 9
Pad printing ∫ 26 Paints ∫ 23 Pantone ∫ 36 Perception ∫ 8, 10 Perception process ∫ 13 Peripheral perception ∫ 10 Planning principles ∫ 61 Plastering ∫ 25 Plastics ∫ 27 Polychromatic repertoire ∫ 89 Polychromic dispute ∫ 71 Polyurethane resins ∫ 24 Powder coatings ∫ 25 Presentation techniques ∫ 10 Processing methods ∫ 25f. Quality assurance ∫ 63 Quality criteria ∫ 66 RAL Design System ∫ 35 Rapid prototyping ∫ 29 Raising awareness of colour ∫ 61 Reconstruction 74, 76ff. Reconstruction using identical materials ∫ 77 Recreation ex novo ∫ 76 Red-green channel ∫ 12 Reflection ∫ 53 Refraction ∫ 53f. Repair materials ∫ 74 Restoration ∫ 72f., 74, 78 Rough concept ∫ 42 Screen printing ∫ 25 Sculptural principle ∫ 90 Semantic-semiotic profile ∫ 37 Sensual-haptic colour concept ∫ 45ff. Sensory illusions ∫ 10 Silicate paints ∫ 24 Silicon resin paints ∫ 24 Silicon resin varnishes ∫ 24 Space ∫ 38ff., 46 Spatial perception ∫ 11 Spectral colours ∫ 33, 51f. Spectrum ∫ 12, 55, 59 - discontinuous ∫ 55, 59 - continuous ∫ 55, 59 Spray painting ∫ 25 Stove enamelling ∫ 25 Subtractive colour mixing ∫ 33f., 54f. Supplementary materials ∫ 74 Surface colours ∫ 8, 51, 55 Surface design ∫ 65 Surface quality ∫ 73 Surface structures ∫ 28 Sustainability ∫ 31 Synthetic resin emulsion paints ∫ 24 Systematic colour classifications ∫ 39 Systematic colour concept ∫ 48f. Textiles ∫ 27 Trade associations ∫ 62 Transmission ∫ 53f. Vintage design ∫ 21 Visual design ∫ 18 Visual communication ∫ 9, 18 Wallpapers ∫ 30 Wavelength range ∫ 12 Workmanship ∫ 69 Zurich colour swatches
The authors and publishers would like to thank the following sponsor for the assistance with this publication:
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