Colour in architecture: practical considerations

Colour in Architecture event

Colour in architecture

AJ/Dulux Colour in Architecture event at the Materials Lab

AJ/Dulux Colour in Architecture event at the Materials Lab

Last month we had a very enjoyable evening at the Architects Journal/ Dulux Trade event at the Materials Lab in London. The evening was chaired by Architects’ Journal editor Rory Olycato. Director James Pickard was our client Mike Levey of Newlon and spoke on the use of colour in Cartwright Pickard’s work, including some practical considerations which we’ve shared below.

James Allison of Bennetts Associates discussed the use of colour in their recent HQ for Camden Council, together with colour consultant Atelier Works and client LB Camden. The panel was joined by the ever-colourful designer Morag Mysercough, who regularly collaborates with architects.

The evening was an interesting departure from the more sector-specific events we often attend, and provided us with lots of inspiration. You can read a review of the event on the Architects’ Journal website, here:

James’ talk included some practical considerations on the long term performance and durability of colour which we thought it may be useful to share. This is by no means a definitive list just what we have experienced over the years.

AJ/Dulux Colour in Architecture event at the Materials Lab

James Pickard speaking

Long term durability of colour

  • Avoid the dark/deep colours when using exterior render as they will fade and can look unsightly quickly
  • The quality and longevity of Polyester powder coating varies tremendously between suppliers, with colours fading quicker than expected. Anodized aluminium finishes will generally survive for significantly longer
  • Applied external paint finishes and timber coatings generally require a 4 to 5 year maintenance regime which will require access and an ongoing maintenance budget. Many public sector clients don’t have sufficient maintenance budgets
  • Enamel-back coloured glass is a relatively long-life low maintenance finish
  • Terracotta rain screen cladding systems can be glazed in a wide range of colours and is also a long-life low maintenance solution.
  • External rain screen cladding boards should be through-colour otherwise often fade
  • External paint requires careful specification, some colours fade far more quickly than others
  • Many of the coloured external cladding boards will fade quickly, try to specify through colour materials
  • LED lighting is now so low-energy, coloured external lighting is great way of adding colour at night
  • Self-finished and through colour materials will stand the test of time and require the least maintenance
AJ/Dulux Colour in Architecture event at the Materials Lab

Morag Myerscough and Mike Levey of Newlon

Thanks to the Architects’ Journal/ Theodore Wood for the images