Inspired by the beautiful color theme in architecture, I found myself faced with an Austrian artist (as well as architect, but without formal training) called Friedensreich Hundertwasser who decided to declare war on straight lines. His architectural designs reminded me of the Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí in its biomorphic creations. But it was not the use of irregular shapes in the buildings he designed what caught my attention, but the use of a vast array of bright colors, both in facades and interior of buildings. He considered the color an essential part of architectural design.

Art and Architecture. Hundertwasser

Park Guell. Gaudi. Barcelona

If you have read my blog before, you may know by now that I am a faithful defender of buildings that harmonize with the environment. And it was perhaps this fact that has led me to become one more of the architects who paint their projects with the colors of nature. This is something I never thought; until today.

Most times, when I start working on a new design, I limit myself to a palette of whites, grays and browns, specially in the facades. Perhaps this was because I had not dared to think “outside the box“. The natural colors and materials are the safe way to harmonize with the environment, and since I am an advocate of this theory, it is obvious that I do not want to be the one who act against it.

Today, after this reflection, I think two of the most important issues in architecture, are color and light. But the first one, I think it is given less importance than necessary, at least from the point of view of architecture (not so from the interior design´s point of view).

Being our natural environment as neutral as it is, the introduction of colored dots is a necessary joy in the journey of life, a breath; it is like a rainbow in the sky led to the land.

Parts House Pavilion. Johnsen Schmaling Architects. Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA

Apartment Building in Madrid. Amann Canovas Maruri Arquitectos.

When applied in urban settings, the color is capable of providing to a specific sector, a sense of belonging to its inhabitants, which may not happen in the case of areas with more neutral colors. It has been found, by groups like let’s color project, which promote “a worldwide initiative to transform grey spaces with colourful paint. A mission to spread colour all over the world”, that when applying color in disadvantaged neighborhoods, there have been seen improvements in society, such as the reduction of crime rates and the increase of solidarity among its inhabitants, because they are motivated to take better care and protect their environment, since space is no longer anonymous.

Together, we can change whatever we want. Together, we can add a simple splash of colour, which will really show the power it has to inspire us all”. Let´s colour project http://www.letscolourproject.com/

Modernism, especially in its beginning, with its great inclination towards the use of natural materials, made us move away from the joy that produce the colors in architecture. This has been changing over time, but I think that, in many cases, the change is not going in the right direction.

As it happens with most emerging artistic trends, there is a need to change whatever was being done, if possible, in its entirety. We are moving from a gray, brown, natural architecture, to an architecture with such vibrant colors that dazzle.

We should not be afraid to use bright colors, which help to change the visual dynamics of the city, but we must be aware of how to use them; the places and the proportions in which we use them, because although color can do a lot for a building and its environment, it can also harm them greatly, if not employed with the necessary urban consciousness.

An example of this is the Thonik Studio building in Amsterdam, designed by MVRDV, which had to change the original color of its facades, because of complaints from locals, who claimed they experienced serious discomfort because of this color.

before…                                                                                    after… 

So,

let´s fill our palette with bright colors…

Only the environment is able to tell us when “colorful” is “too much colorful”…

Didden Village. MVRDV. Rotterdam

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