Research Portal

November 20, 2023

Color as metaphor in architectural design

Minah, G. (2023). Color as metaphor in architectural design. Color Research and Application, 48(5), 536–542.

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In the early stage of a building design, forming a design concept is the first step. The architect must assimilate and organize information involving spatial needs, engineering, building codes, and budget considerations. They must also consider its visual appearance, how the building fits into its physical context, and, most importantly, how to conceive of the building holistically as both functional and aesthetic. A process for accomplishing this will use a methodology associated with intuition and imagination. A metaphor is used that gives form to the building through an analogy that imitates its activities and function and serves as a device for conceiving of the building as a whole. Making a design diagram that defines the concept using the metaphor and showing the relationship of the critical parts of the building is the biggest challenge in this stage. A new approach is to assign color to these parts in the design diagram. With the metaphor as guide, the hierarchical status of the parts will be shown by the perceptual weight of the colors in juxtaposition to one another by contrasts in hue, value, and chroma. The results show that the addition of color increases the clarity and comprehension of the design concept in the eyes of the designer, in visual presentations to faculty in academic settings, and to clients in the profession. The color decisions latter in the process may differ from those used in the diagram, but these decisions will adhere to the established hierarchies of the building parts as foreground or background colors. This methodology is intended to be a tool for students in architecture as well as professional architects.