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Colour Case Study #2, Coventry, United Kingdom

Monday 26 Sep 2011

Colour Case Study #2

¬©Kelly MacPhee 
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Digital artwork and an industrial-inspired palette define City of Coventry Health Centre 

The second instalment in WAN’s Colour Case Study series focuses on the intelligent integration of subtle hues into Sonnemann Toon Architects’ City of Coventry Health Centre, a project that is making rapid progress on site. Working in close collaboration with experienced Design & Colour Consultant (and WAN Colour in Architecture Award juror) Frances Tobin, the architects have conceptualised a new clinical landmark for Coventry city centre with an integrated colour palette which reflects the complex industrial history of the local region.

Tobin explains: “Sonnemann Toon were inspired by Coventry’s rich industrial history and ever changing society; the colour palette I have developed embraces this inspiration and enhances the urban landscape. The colours of industrial metals (iron, copper, and steel) are mixed with influences from the surrounding built environment (brick, slate, and lead). The corrosion of these materials creates different hues of colour which have been used to represent the history of Coventry. The gleaming quality of newly polished metal provides highlights and flashes of brilliance representing glimpses of the future.”

The raw quality of these inspirational forces has been softened to fit the welcoming and all-inclusive nature of a health hub, with the harsh sheen of steel and fiery red of brick gently dulled for effect. These shades are staggered across the external facade to signify alterations in the internal usage and give the impression of movement in and around the building.

Spread over 5 storeys, the 10,181 sq m of internal space reflect the external experiments with colour, each floor taking on a new metal. A copper palette on the third floor for instance ‘reassures anxious adolescents and young adults – the largest user group for sexual health services’ while Tobin explains ‘for the fourth floor, it was extremely important that a subdued palette was developed for the integrated children’s services’ whose users have a wide range of autism and mental health issues’. Despite these interjections of colour, each level is equalised by identical white walls, slate grey floors and American Oak doors.

An additional feature of Tobin’s work with the Sonnemann Toon team was to launch a community-led arts programme with Coventry University to commission original artworks by local artists for use throughout the building. The winning designs are a range of vivid digital masterpieces by Kelly MacPhee who has combined industrial paraphernalia - such as copper rings, cogs and hinges - with vibrant colours taken from the building’s metallic palette. The final designs (shown left) will be printed onto vinyl wall covering at 3m x 2.7m and hung throughout the Health Center to aid patient orientation.

Cressida Toon, architect for City of Coventry Health Centre, confirms: “The coordination of colour is so important for a building of this type. There are many different parties who input into the design and procurement of an NHS LIFT development and a cohesive strategy for colour can help the original design aspiration for the building be carried through to completion. As materials are selected as part of the design and build process and as fixtures and fittings are procured, a strong theme for the interior design and use of colour enable a more consistent selection process. The result of a robust strategy for the use of colour is a more harmonious and coordinated interior.”

WAN is now accepting entries for the inaugural Colour in Architecture Award. Click here to find out more or contact Amy Knight at amy.knight@wantoday.com with any queries. To visit Frances Tobin’s website click here.

Key Facts

Status Under construction
Value 0(m€)
Were you involved in this scheme?
Sonnemann Toon Architects LLP

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