COLOUR IN ARCHITECTURE
(Okay so I know its not Thursday but I am trying to catch up on the blogging thing!) Who doesn’t like fun colours in their architecture? Surprisingly a lot of people. Most professors I’ve had, and many professionals (not all of them of course) will tell you to use colour sparingly in your work to make sure things are “toned down.” But these projects show sometimes it just has to be loud. CINQUE TERRE Cinque Terre is located in the Italian Riviera and is a beautiful example of how places can be almost literally frozen in time. This series of villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) are linked together by footpaths, the ocean, and train. That’s right there are NO cars in the “Five Lands.” I stumbled across this as I was searching for colour + architecture on the internet, and I am so enchanted that I cannot wait to get to Italy to see it! And this place certainly does not lack in colour. Terraced along the rugged coast, the houses and businesses come in every shade you can imagine. According to the history of the place, the buildings were painted so brightly so that the fishermen (which obviously was the main economy of the towns) could see their homes from the ocean as they worked. Lucky for us the tradition has been continued! What I love is that it is not only the architecture that is colourful and bright but also almost everything you can see from the street. The boats, the signage, the awnings, the furniture, the textiles! Even though everything is so differently coloured, and heck there are a lot of what we would call clashing colours, it comes together in a beautiful, lively, yet seemingly peaceful harmony. CENTRAL ST. GILES This is a mixed-use development located in London, completed in 2010, and designed by Renzo Piano. I used this development as a precedent for a skyscraper project during my master’s degree, and what I liked about it the most was that it is extremely colourful without being over the top. Here I doubt something like Cinque Terre would have worked, as the scale is so much different. Interestingly, however, though the scale is quite large, I feel like the blocks of colour work well because of the minute detail that has gone into the facade. Though the bright facades may look like painted metal pieces, they are actually 134, 000 glazed terracotta tiles. I think this helps the building relate to its surroundings, as well as older London architecture. It also blends seamlessly with the more modern elements of the building in the steel and glass. Finally, each of the terracotta facades are set at a slight angle from one another, which breaks up the entire building making it more approachable and engaging. On another note, I am a huge fan of mixed-use developments. I believe that all new developments should be a mix of residential, commercial and retail as well as green space/urban park space in order for our cities to grow better. Particularly in Calgary, where our past has isolated the downtown to strictly commercial with suburban sprawl all around, we need to start enlivening our inner city and densifying through these means. We are headed in the right direction luckily, with development like the East Village, though things are moving rather slowly with the rest of downtown. PORTA FIRA TOWERS This is another precedent project from the same skyscraper studio that I discovered. It is a project by Toyo Ito, and is located in Barcelona, Spain. It is a hotel and office combination and was completed in 2009. Though it is less colourful than the other architecture in this post, the red tower is striking due to the combination of the bright hue with the organic form. Again here I feel that the facade is working due to the fact that despite having such a huge scale the detail helps make it less monolithic. The facade here is made up of red metal tubes that shift angles as they run up the tower. It creates a dynamic effect as the pipes flow up the curves of the building. I think the effect is heightened by the fact that the pipes are set out from the building, creating a dark backdrop of emptiness behind. I do feel however that the second tower is a bit of a failure. I am not a big fan of how the two towers interact, and feel that they should have been two completely separate projects in different locations. I understand that they were likely intended to be a foil to one another – the red tower being voluminous and organic, with more traditional geometry punched in – and the grey tower was intended to be traditional geometry with a touch of organic added in, but still I just think there could have been a better way. Same with how the podium interacts with the organic tower – the tower hits the podium almost like it was tacked on at a later date, as opposed to the podium embracing or flowing up into the tower which would have enhanced the curving effect. (But of course who am I to argue with Toyo Ito ;)) I hope these projects inspire you to utilize colour more freely in your own projects 🙂 or have let you in on a few new destinations you may want to visit!