Despite the use of color in architecture throughout history, modern constructions seem to be a bit skeptical of this design aspect. Contemporary architecture tends to avoid color in general and there are only a few buildings who manage to use tones in the right way. Architects don’t want their buildings to look like a kindergarten experiment and this is why color is probably one of the most debated issues in architecture. However, some recent architects seem to have dealt with color pretty well and these are some examples, among many others.
What do you think about these colorful buildings?
1. MUSAC (Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León)
Location: Leon (Spain)
Architect: Luis M. Mansilla + Emilio Tuñón
Brief Description: The facade of the contemporary museum is made of multicolored panels which has certain similitudes to the typical windows of Gothic cathedrals (of which this Spanish region is famous for). In fact, the architects got the inspiration from the main rose window at the local 13th century Gothic cathedral, Santa María de León. Another similar but less elegant building is the Palais des Congrès in Montreal . Read more here.
2. Museum Brandhorst
Location: Münich (Germany)
Architect: Sauerbruch Hutton
Brief Description: The Brandhorst Museum houses a private collection of late 20th Century and contemporary art, mostly paintings. The scheme consists of a simple elongated building of three interconnecting volumes which are distinguished by cladding of different colors and hues. This is indeed a very rational use of color, you could tell it’s located in Germany. Read more here.
Note: Sauerbruch Hutton architects have many notable buildings which use color such as the Pharmacological Research Laboratories and the Cologne Oval Offices.
3. Musée du Quai Branly
Location: Paris (France)
Architect: Jean Nouvel
Brief Description: Despite its appearance of a wild, disorganized jumble of colorful boxes, this kaleidoscopic composition is used to highlight the museum’s diverse collections. Concealed light sources, invisible showcases, spiral ramps, shifting ceiling heights, and changing colors combine to ease the transition between periods and cultures. And this is indeed a great way to bond the program with the interior and exterior forms and colors. Read more here.
4. Niekee School
Location: Roermond (Netherlands)
Architect: LIAG architects
Brief Description: Niekee schools is known for distinguishing itself from a traditional school. The exciting, vibrant exterior merely hints at the unusual facilities inside, which is organized around a central area with its open learning centre. The building has been set up this way so that a maximum transparency is reached and interactive relations, learning with and from each other, are promoted. Who wouldn’t be creative surrounded by all this color and amazing spaces? Read more here.
5. American University Of Cairo Campus Center
Location: Cairo (Egypt)
Architect: Legorreta + Legorreta
Brief Description: The sons of Mexican starchitect Legorreta seem to have inherited their father’s taste for color. This amazing complex manages to adopt a modern architecture concept to vernacular materials and colors. The composition of blues and oranges is simply amazing, like all of their buildings. Read more here.
6. College of Art and Design of Toronto
Location: Toronto (Canada)
Architect: Aslop Architects
Brief Description: The Sharp Centre for Design was built to accommodate an expansion of the Ontario College of Art & Design in downtown Toronto. The center is a two-story, black and white rectangular volume set atop brightly colored, 26 meter tall columns, straddling existing buildings of the College. This bold expansion is in some way proudly soars above, which can be criticised, but modern art is all about this. Read more here.
7. Porta Fira Hotel
Location: Barcelona (Spain)
Architect: Toyo Ito and b720 Arquitectos
Facade Description: The project consists of two towers that perform a subtle dialogue between them. The hotel’s skin is made of a system of red metal tubes placed with a certain inclination. The other tower however, uses the red tubes only on the core (inverse system). The use of color represents the relationship between the two buildings and this is probably why the architects only used one color. Read more here.
8. Sugamo Shinkin Bank, Ekoda Branch
Location: Tokyo (Japan)
Architect: Emmanuelle Moureaux Architecture + Design
Brief Description: Sugamo Shinkin Bank is a credit union whose motto is: “we take pleasure in serving happy customers.” The design responds to the client’s expectation: “creating a bank the customers feel happy to visit” and color is one of the main resources of the design. What I really like about the building is that the pillars are also used inside, giving it a sense of “transparency” and “continuity” that is indeed positive for a bank. Read more here.
9. Terminal 4, Barajas Airport
Location: Madrid (Spain)
Architect: Richard Rogers + Estudio Lamela
Brief Description: Transitions between spaces are considered as if a person changes time zones gingerly on a travel. The subtle change in colors punctuate this change. But this statement, my friends, is not true. I had the chance to hear the real story and architects won’t be surprised. The architects didn’t know which color to choose so they brought beams of different colors, again and again. The final result? what you see. Read more here.
10. Simmons Hall at MIT
Location: Boston (US)
Architect: Steven Holl
Brief Description: The new undergraduate dormitory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technoloy, consists of a perforated, monolithic box with contained spaces that curve and unfold towards natural light. Where’s the color? you’ll wonder. The use of color here is very subtle, it can only be perceived from certain angles. Given that is a dormitory full of students this can have a lot of meanings. I’ll keep mine for my own. Read more here.
Location: Melbourne (Australia)
Brief Description: This is a risky project, however, the architects designed the facade as a system of perimeter planters, fixed shading louvers, double glazed window walls and solar panel shading. They developed a complex yet simple patterning system to engender the project with a human scale ‘flow’ of textures. Read more here.
12. Nestlé Chocolate Museum
Location: Mexico City (Mexico)
Architect: Rojkind Arquitectos
Brief Description: This museum is designed in order to deliver the most pleasant experience towards the brand. This playful folding shape is evocative for kids, of an origami shaped bird, or maybe a spaceship. From the moment you enter the space, you start the voyage into the chocolate factory. Even if this seems superficial, this building is extremely effective on its purpose. Read more here.