UWE students' work inspired colour theory wheels

Issue date: 19 December 2008


Students design using colour A group of Architecture and Planning students from the University of the West of England have spent the last six days learning about how to apply colour theory to buildings.

Lead by Artist and Architecture lecturer Andy Bradford, the students have taken inspiration from the application of colour theory used in the award winning Architecture Studios. Andy Bradford's colour installation that explores the use of colour in buildings won a major national award in 2004 for his innovative application of colour particularly in relation to its potential contribution to architectural education.

Andy Bradford explains, “The last few days have been particularly exciting for me as this is actually the first time that I have used my own work as a primary resource material. The buildings that the students have produced are fantastic. I think many found it quite revealing to learn how important colour theory is in terms of placement of colours in building. Colour theory works very like music in the sense that colours can be seen to be harmonious, rhythmic, discordant and working in chords.

“The students began the week by producing their own 2D boards and then applied the colour theory to 3D spaces. Using the colour installation in the Architecture Studios (based on the colour theory of Johannes Itten) as a backdrop, students produced detailed and individual responses to the theory on A2 size boards using gouache paints.

“We took the work of the Dutch minimalist De Stijl movement of architecture from the 1920's as another source of inspiration. This group includes the work of artists and architects such as Mondrian and Rietveldt.

“I wanted to show the students how despite options being literally infinite in the range of possibilities that it is critical in good design to learn how to reduce, refine and distil colour so that it works with the design as a whole. Through a strict process of continual refinement, students generated a wide variety of spatial effects using a combination of just three colours generated from the colour theory. Allied with a strict limitation on the amount of 'building' material in their A3 sized models, students were encouraged to discard 'surplus' or redundant spaces, following a less is more approach.”

Third year Architecture and Planning student Dominic Dudley, said, “I've really enjoyed doing this project, it's greatly furthered my understanding of colour theory and the use of colour in architecture. I have come to realise that colour is a vast and complex topic, never-ending and always ambiguous. There is certainly no all-in-one winning formula with regard to the implementation of colour in architecture. However, understanding Johannes Itten's colour wheel has helped me to begin to understand colour harmony, with complimentary and discordant combinations, demonstrating how one might use colour to create space, to create an atmosphere. If colour is to become an integral part of architecture, and not merely another form of surface, it is clear that it must be treated with great respect and consideration.”

To find out more about the Architecture and Planning course at UWE go to www.bne.uwe.ac.uk/architecture

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