“To whom does a facade belong – to a building, or to the public space that it faces?” This is a question posed by architect and educator, Rafael Gomez-Moriana, in his essay ‘Everyday Camouflage in the City’. The various applications of colour to buildings’ façades offer a range of responses to this interesting question.
When applied to a façade, colour will determine the level of integration or disintegration a building maintains with its surroundings. If a bright, bold, contrasting colour is applied in a single, solid block to a façade, the building’s form will be emphasized, making it stand out against its surroundings’ usually mixed palette of tone and texture. On the other hand, an architect might want a building to have very little visual impact and therefore opt for a mimetic façade that adapts to its surroundings, choosing colours that already populate its environment.
Bearing the above in mind, how conspicuous a building is could be argued to correlate with its notion of to whom it belongs. A facade that stands out against its environment could be seen to proclaim, ‘I belong to the building’, whereas a facade that blends it with its neighbours says ‘I belong to the public space’.
The Orange Cube in Lyon, France, by Jakob + MacFarlane Architects, was completed in 2011. Both its adventurous form and colour were chosen to bring energy to the area, by creating a dynamic contrast with its surroundings.