Color for Architects
Juan Serra Lluch
Princeton Architectural Press, May 2019
Paperback | 7 x 9-1/2 inches | 192 pages | English | ISBN: 978-1616897949 | $34.95
As far back as the earliest Greek temples, color has been an integral part of architecture but also one of its least understood elements. Color theory is rarely taught in architecture schools, leaving architects to puzzle out the hows and whys of which colors to select and how they interact, complement, or clash. Color for Architects is profusely illustrated and provides a clear, concise primer on color for designers of every kind. This latest volume in our Architecture Briefs series combines the theoretical and practical, providing the basics on which to build a fuller mastery of this essential component of design. A wealth of built examples, exercises, and activities allows students to apply their learning of color to real-world situations.
Over the years I’ve reviewed many books in Princeton Architectural Press’s “Architecture Briefs” series: on model making, on writing about architecture, on design/build, and on lighting, materials, architectural transformations, and sustainable design. The Architecture Briefs, subtitled “The Foundations of Architecture,” are compact books but are packed with information geared to students and young professionals. The newest title in the series, Color for Architects, is particularly suited to students, since ten of its fifteen chapters end with activities that can be as easy as looking at some photos or answering a couple questions, or they may ask readers to watch a video or even take a quiz. The activities recap the preceding pages and serve to embed the information in the minds of readers by having them actually do something. Though not unique to this Brief, this format should help in getting students to consider an important aspect of design — color — that is all too often ignored in favor of white or gray.
Juan Serra Lluch, an architecture professor in Spain — a country that has embraced color more than just about any other in modern times — structures the book’s fifteen chapters in three parts. The four chapters in part one describe how color works, in scientific terms and in regards to perception, particularly important for architects. The second part — the bulk of the book, with six chapters — addresses color for architectural projects. Here there are plenty of precedents to look at but also the author tackling “the myth of white in modern architecture,” something that seems to be letting up in this decade’s embrace of Postmodern design but still lingers, even though Le Corbusier and other Modernists actually used lots of color. Part three’s five chapters are the most practical, focused on workflow and loaded with information on manipulating colors in Photoshop, calibrating a monitor, and other ways of dealing with color in digital environments. These chapters are really helpful for me, someone well beyond student or young professional, and a sign that the Briefs have something for every architect.
Architect Juan Serra Lluch is a lecturer and member of the Color Research Group at the Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain, with expertise in modern and contemporary architecture.