Apart from the aesthetics, does color on buildings matter? The answer, it turns out, is not that straightforward. Recent studies suggest that there may be links between color found in architecture and economic development, historical context, even human health.
Earlier this month, paint and coating company AkzoNobel and architecture firm OMA announced that they are conducting global research investigating the link between color and economic development. Authors of the report argue:
The link between color and our emotional reaction to the built environment is well established. But it doesn’t stop there. In affecting our perceptions, color has a distinct impact on all the variables that determine the vitality of the city: social, cultural and economic.
The impact that color has on economies isn’t yet proved, but its influence on cultures and communities across historical contexts is much clearer, as another study reveals. In examining paint samples from plantation-style homes in Hawaii, researchers concluded that colors are not always chosen for aesthetic value, or even for modern criteria such as relationships with the environment. Rather, paint colors reflected a point in time in history, the availability of materials (such as the surplus of “battleship gray” paint after WWII), and the industries that helped shape the island state.
While color has been linked to psychological, physiological, and social reactions in humans, a study by the Coalition for Health Environments Research concluded that there is insufficient evidence to suggest a direct link between a given color and patient outcomes — in spite of the oversimplification of the psychological responses to color by the popular press and design community at large.
So the question of how much color matter remains open — but that doesn’t change the fact that these very colorful buildings are sure to bring a smile to your face.
Image: Museum Brandhorst, by Sauerbruch Hutton.