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The Function of Colour

Part 2 Dissertation 2011
Caroline Kiernan
University College Dublin, Ireland
The Brandhorst Museum in Munich is clad in 36,000 ceramic rods glazed in 23 different colours, each arranged vertically over a horizontally striped, sheet metal skin. The architects, Sauerbruch Hutton, believe that by creating an abstract colour façade they are drawing attention to the abstract world of the art within (Dezeen).

The actual colour effect of their building, however, supersedes their intentions. The eye must repeatedly scan the coloured façade, the continuous supply of information preventing the brain from forming any basic visual impression. This leads to a ‘flicker’ effect, forming an extremely uncomfortable eye and brain, defaulting the façade of its representational function. I wonder if the architects realise the physiological colour effect of their building?

This dissertation is not concerned with the representational value of colour. Nor does it consider any psychological variations. Instead, it seeks to understand the fundamental basis of its appropriate architectural application; that is to say, how it can function.

Colour is touched on as it has grown gradually around us – scientifically, theoretically and artistically. Colour effect is then investigated, as considered in the built and written work of Le Corbusier, culminating with a way of understanding its apt architectural employment.

Caroline Kiernan

Ms Elizabeth Shotton
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