The complementary colour of Finnish granite – The Detailed Plan and the Design Guidelines in guiding architectural colour

Aktiviteetti: Konferenssiesitelmä


The detailed plan and design guidelines define the qualitative features of a new neighbourhood, such as building height, purpose of use, building materials and colours. These guidelines also describe the architectural atmosphere and character of the new area. For example, in urban infill projects, these documents illustrate the intended relation between new architecture and the existing surroundings Böhme (1993, 2017) introduced the concept of making the atmosphere to the stage and architecture. However, making the atmosphere through architectural colour is still a relatively unexplored concept both in theory and in practice.

This paper examines the detailed plans and design guidelines of ten neighbourhoods in the Helsinki metropolitan area and the variance in the ways in which these documents describe the intended atmosphere and relay colour information. The paper will discuss some preliminary findings of my on-going doctoral research titled Methods for the colour planning in a neighbourhood project: The Koivusaari case, which is a practice-led study of the colour planning process of a new housing district in Helsinki.

The paper analyses the material through two questions. The first question aims to analyse the atmosphere of new areas: what reasons or explanations are given to the colours of the neighborhood? The second question aims to explore the variety of manners of describing architectural colours: what is the medium of the colour information for architectural design? For example, if the intended colour of the building is red, colour information can include the word ‘red’, the mentions of red brick or red plastering, or the exact red colour code from the NSC colour system. The medium influences the variety of architectural colour choices. The detailed plan and design guidelines direct the colours of the facades and the details (roofs, bases, windows).

The preliminary findings of this research indicate that descriptions of colour information in design guidelines are often confusing and inexact, occasionally even impossible for architectural design. For example, one challenging detail the colour explanation described in the guidelines was the complementary colour of Finnish granite, as there is no complementary colour for greyish stone.

colour research, colour design, atmosphere, urban design, architecture, language, detailed plan, design guidelines

Böhme, G, Thibaud, J-P, (ed.), 1993/2017:20. Atmosphere as a fundamental concept of a new aesthetics.
The Aesthetics of Atmospheres, Routledge, New York.
The Detailed Plans of Viikinmäki, Kuninkaantammi, Aurinkolahti, Pikku-Huopalahti, Suurmetsä, Kartanonkoski, Kivistö, Leinelä, Etelä-Hermanni, Jätkäsaari, Kalasatama
Aikajakso1 kesäk. 2017
Tapahtuman otsikkoIIAA International Summer Conference on Environmental Aesthetics: Considerations in Urban Aesthetics: Planning, Mobilities, and Everyday Life
Tapahtuman tyyppiConference
SijaintiLahti and Helsinki, SuomiNäytä kartalla
Tunnustuksen arvoInternational