Colour is a powerful design tool that can stimulate people’s emotions in very different ways, making it one of the most challenging elements to get right in the design of a building and its interior. To use colour effectively, we must first understand how it makes people feel, and why. A fascinating insight into this can be found in ‘The Secret Lives of Colour’; by Kassia St Clair which provides a comprehensive overview of the history and psychology of colour, explaining how our associations with certain colours have changed over time in response to specific historical events and social trends, including war, disease, politics, fashion and art.
The feedback we’ve received from students suggests that, whilst they are open to the idea of colour being used in common social areas, they would prefer bedrooms and private living spaces to remain neutral, choosing warm natural materials such as wood and cork over vibrant feature walls. Colours chosen for common areas should be carefully considered; bold primary colours will produce a very different character to soft pastel tones, having a direct influence on the nature of the space and how it will be used.
‘Colour is a power which directly influences the soul.’ Wassily Kandinski
As architects we have a responsibility to ensure that our buildings are designed to give students the best possible experience during their time at university. In order to do this it is vital that we consider the themes outlined above, and whilst there will be other non-design related aspects that need to be taken into account, it is clear that spatial variety, ownership, environmental control, physical health, colour and connections to nature all have a significant role to play in the overall wellbeing of students.
Rose is an architect, and lead many aspects of the design and interiors for Senate House at the University of Bristol.
Top: Senate House (c) Rebecca Noakes
Midddel: Mind Map