Catalyst & Colour

As a result of the colour limitations for our publication – only three allowed, excluding the colour of the paper -, colour suddenly became a very important factor to consider.

At first, I could only find information on colour theory relating to marketing and product design (included in my sketchbook); however, I have since then found some useful and very helpful content on triadic colour schemes and the role of colour in architecture.

I shall first explain what are triad colours: triad colours combine every fourth colour on the basic colour wheel.

This gives us 4 different palette choices of 3 colours each.

  • 3 primary colours  yellow + red + blue
  • 3 secondary colours  orange + violet + green
  • 3 tertiary colours – yellow/green + red/orange + blue/violet
  • 3 tertiary colours  yellow/orange + red/violet + blue/green



There are other versions of triadic colour schemes, such as the complementary triad, the split-complementary, and the modified triad.

A complementary triadic colour scheme, for instance, just as the name implies, starts with any two complementary hues directly across from each other. The third colour is found halfway between the two, either in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction. An example would be: yellow + violet + blue/gree OR yellow + violet + red/orange.

Note: At this point, I was already inclined to the primary colours in the simple triad (yellow + red + blue), as they were brighter, more authentic and pure. As I was working with photography that would have to be black & white, these characteristics were important, to make the colours stand out.They were also the same colours used by the artists I had previously researched.


The use of colour in architecture’ explains how technology has enabled a much wider colour palette to choose from, when it comes to architecture, and how this is having exciting repercussions in buildings’ design.

“Most crucially, more projects are viewing colour as a key component of design, as opposed to a finishing touch. For the architect, colour is becoming another tool with which to carve out the correct ambience of a building, whether it is used simply for dramatic effect, or for something deeper, such as forging ties with local culture or altering perceptions of a building’s form.”

‘Color in Architecture – More Than Just Decoration’ is another interesting article exploring the psychologic aspects of colour and how they influence our mood. The author defends different ways in which colours should be considered when applied to different buildings with specific purposes.

“The impression of a color and the message it conveys is of utmost importance in creating the psychological mood or ambiance that supports the function of a space. A classroom has a different function than a hospital patient room; an office space is not a production line, etc.”

‘The role of colour in architecture’ draws on the power colour has in affecting a community and how people relate to their surroundings.

“Colour is an expressive element in architectural design and can be used to emphasise the character of a building and create harmony and unity, or it can be deliberately contrasting to enliven or emphasise. It may affect the way in which people respond to their surroundings and can enhance a mood of calm or elation.”

‘How architecture uses space, light and material to affect your mood’ ponders the relationship between space and mood, focusing on examples of libraries along the United States.

“No longer silent, fusty and reserved for solitary study, libraries are now bright and buzzing spaces where people can also engage with their local community and new technologies. (…) What unites them, aside from being striking buildings, is how they demonstrate the powerful effect that architecture, through elements like space, light, geometry and materials, can have on our mood.”


Note: These articles reminded me of my own experience with colours in buildings. For instance, in my hometown, they’ve re-painted the local hospital a few years ago. The chosen shade for the outside walls – pastel yellow.

They chose it over white to make it look more cheerful, less empty, and more inviting, I guess. However, it didn’t work. Not for me, at least. Especially over time, with the paint fading away due to the sunlight, I’ve grown to hate that colour. It seems pale and dead, which emphasizes my emotions towards the building and makes me look away whenever I drive by.


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