The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 9
Yet in spite of the uncertainties, colour is one of the tools most readily available to the building
designer or manager to manipulate the effect of a building exterior. Moreover, it can be quite
an inexpensive implement. When we put together Golden Towne Manor in Meaford, Ontario,
the architect22 designed the exterior with simple bands of contrasting brick colours. Curious,
part-way through construction, I asked the contractor what this added to the cost of the building. The response was that it added nothing - in fact, the bricklayers themselves rather liked
doing something out of the ordinary. It only involved a bit more supervision, and the foreman
was there anyway. Quite apart from preferences and ornamentation, there is some evidence
that the use of colour can change the perception of space and form,23 at probably a lower cost
than physical manipulation of the spaces and forms themselves.
Applied colour can be changed in keeping with changing trends, but still requires careful
consideration of the ease (and cost) of implementing such change. For example, a curtainwall manufacturer recently told me a scary story about the issues and costs of changing the
now-unfashionable mullion colours on buildings a couple of decades old.
In the 21st century, new materials offer colour opportunities not available previously. Dramatic
and long-lived colours and patterns are more feasible. Moreover, one might suggest that there has
been a decrease in societal conformity, perhaps allowing different expressions of individuality.
Yet, the practical designer or manager might consider the remaining reasons why colour is still
not rampant on Canadian building exteriors. Building exteriors can be very long-lived - longer
than fashion trends - suggesting that transient building elements should be treated differently
than the permanent elements. Interiors can be redecorated relatively easily in keeping with
most recent trends, while exteriors may have to exist for decades or centuries and not look
excessively dated or weird, until they become esteemed simply for their age. Some exterior
elements that are periodically renewed might be considered for more aggressive colours,
especially those that are painted.
There are interesting current developments in techniques such as projection mapping and
colour-shifting dichroic glass that might offer more complete colour flexibility in the near future.
Meanwhile, the increasing appearance of large electronic signage on building exteriors can
also give them colour, and the ability to change colour, at least until advertising as a building
feature becomes unfashionable again.
IAN ELLINGHAM is an architect in St. Catharines, Ontario, and Chair of the Built Environment Open Forum.
1. Walker, C. Howard; Robert D. Andrews; H. Langford Warren; Marcus Waterman; F. H. Tompkins; Max Bachmann;
and C. Sadakichi Hartmann. "Color in Architecture," The Art Critic, Vol.1, No.1 (Nov., 1893). p.12.
2. Wittgenstein, Ludwig. Remarks on Color. Oakland: University of California Press, 1977. p. 359.
3. Colours being associated with various religious functions and meanings.
4. Elliot, Andrew J. "A Historically Based Review of Empirical Work on Color and Psychological Functioning: Content,
Methods, and Recommendations for Future Research," Review of General Psychology, Online first publication:
20 Dec 2018. p.1.
5. Ibid. p.3.
6. iPalmer, Stephen E.; Karen B Schloss;. and Paul Kay. "An ecological valence theory of human color preference,"
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol.107, No.19 (May 11, 2010),
7. Finlay, Robert. "Weaving the Rainbow: Visions of Color in World History," Journal of World History, Vol.18, No.4,
(2007) pp. 383-431. p.13.
8. Racey, Chris; Anna Franklin; and Chris M Bird. "The processing of color preference in the brain," NeuroImage.
vol.191, pp.529-536. preprint downloaded from bioRxiv, 12 April, 2019.
9. Marcus, Gert and Hans Matell., "Colors on the Exterior Walls of the Buildings of the Apartment Complex at Västra
Flemingsberg, Huddinge, Sweden, Leonardo, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Spring, 1979), p. 89-93.
10. The 2017 film Built to Last - Relics of Communist Era Architecture, directed by Czech-Japanese filmmaker Haruna
Honcoop, shows numerous examples of buildings with failed exterior tile-clad walls.
11. Slatter P.E. and T.W. Allan Whitfield. "Room function and appropriateness judgements of colour" Perceptual and
Motor Skills, 1977, vol.45, pp.1068-1070.
12. All Saints Church, St. Margaret Street in London is one example and worth visiting.
13. Braham, William W. RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics, No. 39 (Spring, 2001), pp. 192-214.
14. Arthur, Eric "How to appreciate architecture," Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal, February, 13(2) (1936),
15. Kaplan, Stephen and Rachel Kaplan. Cognition and Environment: Functioning in an uncertain world, Ann Arbour:
Ulirichís, 1983, p.18.
16. Kumar, Minu and Nitike Garg. (2010) "Aesthetic principles and cognitive emotion appraisals: How much of the
beauty lies in the eye of the beholder?" Journal of Consumer Psychology, 20, p.487.
17. Stamps, Arthur E. III "Mystery, complexity, legibility and coherence: A meta-analysis," Journal of Environmental
Psychology, 24, (2004) p.2.
18. Slatter and Whitfield, op. cit. (1977), p.1070.
19. Lazreg, Cecilia Karpowicz and Etienne Mullet. "Judging the Pleasantness of Form-Color Combinations," The American
Journal of Psychology, Vol.114, No.4 (Winter, 2001), p.530.
20. Finlay, op. cit. (2018), p.20.
21. Braham, op. cit. (2001). p.194.
22. Seppo Kanerva of Sedun+Kanvera, Architects Inc., Toronto.
23. Braham, op. cit. (2001), p.195.
The Right Angle | Summer 2019 | 9
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019
Index to Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - Intro
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - cover1
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - cover2
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 3
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 4
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 5
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - Colour
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 7
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 8
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 9
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 10
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 11
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 12
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 13
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 14
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - Index to Advertisers
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 16
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - 17
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - Locations
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - cover3
The Right Angle Journal - Summer 2019 - cover4