The Main Elements of the Colour Design Process of a New Neighborhood: The Case Koivusaari in Helsinki

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionScientificpeer-review


The case Koivusaari is a part of urban the design project, in which the focus is on the detailed plan and design guidelines, especially on guiding the colours of new architecture. This doctoral study gives practice-led information about the architectural colour design in the urban design context. Particularly, it focuses on the formulation of the architectural colour design to the detailed plan and design guidelines. This paper describes the colour design process of Koivusaari. In addition, it discusses another well-documented large-scale colour design project, Smedal’s colour designing for Longyearbyen, Norway, and Lancaster’s research on colour strategies in England. In their cases, the target of colour design is creating the colours and materials to the particular buildings. In the Koivusaari case, the actual construction will not happen until 10-20 years from now. Therefore, it is impossible to only design the specific colours without knowing the architecture. The Koivusaari design consequently focuses on the atmosphere and identity of the new neighbourhood and the meaning of architectural colour.
The method is Research by Design: producing new information about the colour design process as a designer in the Koivusaari case and analysing the design process and available data as a researcher. As a designer, I have worked a colour design consultant in the urban design project of a new island and neighbourhood Koivusaari. The research data includes the sketches, the photographs, the notes, tape-recorded meetings, NCS measurements, SkechUp model and cardboard 3D model.
This study has identified eight steps in the colour design process in the Koivusaari case. The main eight elements of the case Koivusaari are (1) Introduction, (2) Analysis, (3) Sketches and colour concepts, (4) Perspective of colourscape, (5) Colour workshop, (6) Additional analysis, (7) Colour design of the neighbourhood and the blocks, (8) Detailed plan and design guidelines. Each phase has its own aims, which need to be met in order to proceed to the next phase.
The beginning of the colour design process in Koivusaari is quite similar to Smedal’s and Lancaster process, as they all emphasise the importance of the analysis of the site and existing architecture. In addition, they consider the meaning of seasons and weather. However, the target in the Koivusaari case is not to create the specific colours to the facades. Instead, the target is to create the identity of the new neighbourhood with colours and connect Koivusaari to the landscape and the cityscape in all seasons. In the neighbourhood with over 5000 inhabitants, it important to have both harmony and variety and to keep the identity of the new neighbourhood clear. The colour design process of Koivusaari resonates with Böhme’s concept of making the atmosphere but extends it to making the atmosphere with colour in a new neighbourhood.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedingsof the InternationalColour Association (AIC) Conference 2018
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-0-6484724-0-7
Publication statusPublished - 2018
MoE publication typeA4 Article in a conference publication
EventAIC Interim Meeting - Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, Portugal
Duration: 25 Sep 201829 Sep 2018


ConferenceAIC Interim Meeting
Internet address


  • Colour design
  • Urban design
  • Colour research
  • Detailed plan
  • Atmosphere


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