I have often heard designers from other disciplines say how they think architects find colour difficult, as their pre-occupation with form, diagram, space, and light seems to dominate their work. However, colour, pattern and texture are incredibly important design tools which we have often used to help define different aspects of our architecture.
Over the years we, as a practice, have taken on the challenge of incorporating colour into our projects; exploring strong block colour, colour as part of larger building pattern and neutral background tonal shades, depending on the location, brief and context of the scheme at hand.
From Urbis in Manchester to Queen Elisabeth Hall in Antwerp to Verde in Newcastle and beyond, our team has utilised colour and consider it a vital tool when ensuring the delivery of beautifully designed and memorable architecture.
The use of colour in the design of one of our most well-recognized projects, One Blackfriars, may not be as obvious due to the tower’s glass façade, but it was a crucial element applied to give the building its own unique identity on London’s South Bank.
Completed last year, One Blackfriars comprises a 50-storey tower which contains 274 apartments, a residential and amenity pavilion, and a 161-bedroom hotel. The design deals with both its impact on the city as a significant tower and as a piece of neighbourhood place making as it occupies a whole city block with 3 buildings at the gateway to Southwark on the southside of Blackfriars Bridge in the heart of London.
Formally the building is all about movement, inspired by the axial Blackfriars Road and the weaving sinuous River Thames we used colour reinforce the sense of movement, giving the building a distinctiveness and personality reflecting its dynamic location.
We have done this by back painting the glass cladding panels to the insulated opaque walls of the inner skin. There are 15 colours ranging from the warm earth tones of bronzes and brasses through coppers and golds and brightens to slivers and platinums as the tower ascends helping to integrate it with the sky. The result is a unique appearance with a layered depth that also reflects the light and mood of the city. Colouration is a crucial element to the project, allowing the façade to vary throughout each day and with the seasons and creating a visually diverse addition to the city’s skyline.