Building in Red

If there’s a color that comes to mind when thinking about architecture is grey: streets are grey, buildings are grey, cities are grey. Architects seem to have agreed that the standard color to build our environment is grey. Because of that apparent general consensus, any other color choice for a project appears as a statement. Color is a powerful tool, it’s not only a finishing aspect of a project but a defining element for the impact on user’s psychology. To choose a color is setting a dialogue with the user’s mood directly.

The Shed at the National Theatre by Haworth Tompkins, in London

Red is associated with passion, incitation, fierceness, agressivity and dominance. It’s very far from the role of a neutral color that would blend with its environment: it’s the opposite. Other colors, such as blue or green are easily associated with the natural environment so they might be considered as willing to approach those natural elements, but when it comes to red the will to be outstanding is evident, it’s a clear intention of setting the building apart from its site.



Hotel Porta Fira by Toyo Ito and b720, in Barcelona

The impression of a color might be different from one person to the other. The subjectivity of this perception makes it difficult for architects to control the effect of their work: a non neutral color is not only a bold decision in terms of expressivity but also in the sense that the designer takes the risk to loose control of the perception of it. No other element is put under such scrutiny as the color of a building. Red façades make materials go unnoticed, textures become attenuated and its shape might become an anecdote, but its presence is clear.

Young Disabled Modules and Workshop Pavilions by José Javier Gallardo, in Zaragoza

Just as those kings that would surround their kingdoms with vegetation in the most artificial shape to show how wealthy they are that they can constantly maintain their gardens, a building in red is a sign of confidence and determination. The design is ready to confront that it will be very well acknowledge by anyone who has a sight of it. A red building could be then considered as a provocation, a willing to be detached from the surroundings and start a discussion that will attract many detractors. A building in red will be known for its color more than any other characteristic, and present itself as a wake up call from monotony.

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