Pink and Green

Posted on June 23, 2010


Contrary to popular belief multicoloured balconies are not some kind of definitive answer to designing social housing. Just as multicoloured fins are not all you need for an award winning office façade.

It would seem that a multitude of ears perked up when somebody suggested that fluorescent colours might improve our collective disposition. Is this commercial architecture telling us that it’s fun? It’s a difficult area of the industry, that’s for sure, but what gets me is the instantaneous multiplication. Presumably somebody somewhere was being quite flamboyant (almost certainly from behind a pair of Buddy Holly glasses) but now there’s this enormous bandwagon thundering through town.

In a great many cases these features are used as the key ingredient of a ‘one-liner’ in terms of design concept. What’s more is that the one-liner appears to me very shallow. Where do these colours come from? What do they say? (call me a modernist but…) An early use of these popular strips of colour could be David Adjaye’s Idea Store in Whitechapel but here the blue and green stripes are a direct reference to the adjacent market stalls that line the Whitechapel road and provide context for the library.

Architecture is often liked to fashion and with the fickle, immediateness of trends that come and go, fashion is a dangerous relation. Things go out of fashion as quickly as they come in and in some worlds, such as clothing, a trend can simply disappear from the streets over night, never to be seen again. We are rather more stuck with architecture, especially if we want to be remotely sustainable. I suppose you could say that design must be either timeless or temporary; anything in-between is liable to become a blot.

Posted in: Architecture