A splash of colour

Nick Myall
Monday 12 Dec 2016

With the WAN Awards Colour in Architecture Award currently open for entries we take a look at three recently completed projects that make the most of colour to enhance the look and feel of a building

The Colour in Architecture Award 2016 focuses on the application of colour in architecture from its use in a structure or materials like glass, concrete, plastics and metal through to lighting and surface coatings.  

The effective use of colour not only affects the look of a building but also the mood of those visiting it, using it and living in it. It can make a building stand out and at the same time gives it a unique quality.

Here we take a look at three recently completed projects in Miami, Paris and London that feature the use of vibrant colour…

Miami’s street art sets the tone

The street art of Miami in Florida inspired DFA to incorporate eye-catching colours and designs into this unique project which breathed new life into three side-by-side warehouses.

As a result the architects have transformed the buildings into a single dynamic destination for dining and shopping. The artist Tristan Eaton’s colourful artwork responded to DFA’s diagonal, playful facades with his own dynamic graphic intervention.

Studying existing site-circulation, DFA determined that the long blocks of Wynwood could be better connected using the diagonal lines that pedestrians cut through the site. The result is a series of shaded, retail-activated streets organised along existing desire lines.

No building in Wynwood can ignore the enormous street art tradition of the neighbourhood. At the Wynwood Arcades, rather than creating a neutral canvas for street art, DFA created an architecture in dialogue with art. 

Parisian trees project colour 

This project in Paris makes the most of a difficult plot and involved input from three French architects, 2/3/4, Jacques Moussafir and Manuelle Gautrand Architecture, winners of the WAN Awards Commercial category in 2009. 

The three buildings include an office building, including parking (architect: 2/3/4), a student residence (architect: Jacques Moussafir) and a Hipark apartment hotel (architect: Manuelle Gautrand Architecture).

The architects did not want to make the building too pale, bearing in mind the inevitable patina that would accumulate with its proximity to the périphérique. Rich and sometimes darker colours will make dirt less noticeable, as well as giving the project an air of liveliness, slightly shiny, and cheerful in its use of colour.

The tones play out from the bottom to the top, with paler colours as you go higher: The lower section in a variety of quite dark greens creates a base, the darker shades reducing the noticeable effects of dirt, giving a clean, shiny, lasting look. The green tones continue the great line of trees opposite the west facade of the project. Rising up the building, successions of paler blues mix with different greens, and then white, taken straight from the facade of the student residence in order to harmonise the two projects. The colours are fragmented into long strips, which give a kinetic feel to the overall volume capturing the movement of the cars and an impression of speed.

Manuelle Gautrand Architecture were winners of the WAN Awards Commercial category in 2009

Red pyramidal rooms from west London

The metal’s warm red tone on this project by Henning Stummel Architects was chosen to complement the natural hue of the surrounding London brick. (See gallery for project images)

The back land site of the red-coloured Tin House is entered from a modest London street through a ‘massive’ Soanian brick double-height arch – a gateway to a remarkable domestic inner world.

Creating a secluded place was a priority. The architects’ response was to develop a low, inward-looking, tranquil courtyard that is open to the south yet offers privacy, both visual and acoustic. The design is a composition of different pavilions: six red-coloured metal-clad pyramidal top-lit forms. The Tin House maximizes space through these six interconnected pyramidal pods where the colour coated steel GreenCoat PLX BT was specified for the roofs and fa?ades. This gave cohesiveness to the separate but conjoined units allowing the project to create a dialogue with the warm, earthy London brick which surrounds the site. GreenCoat PLX BT features a Bio-based Technology (BT) with a substantial portion of the traditional fossil part replaced by a bio-based alternative like rapeseed oil. This unique, patented solution by SSAB reduces the environmental footprint of the house significantly.


WAN Colour in Architecture Award 2016 now open. Deadline for entries is 31.12.16. For more information contact:


+44(0)1273 201 123


Nick Myall

News editor

Key Facts:

United Kingdom
Commercial Retail Residential

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