This is Paper submited for my MFA Graduate Seminar under the same title. 

Architecture and color; Experience through Space.

These non linear compositions are briefs accounts of my own first hands experiences with some architectural buildings/spaces which I have had the chance to personally experience. I try to revisted these experiences through color. I chose to deal only with architecture I have visited because of the immense importance of the experience and the space in architecture. Architecture through a photo is not architecture.

Carpenter Center for the Arts

Le Corbusier

Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Carpenter Center stands as one of the best examples of Le Corbusier’s later architecture. A precursor to brutalism, it relays on the materials for its texture and for its ‘color’. The building stands as  a strong example of Le Corbusier’s  distrust of color[1]. The colors presented by the materials are, interestingly, very similar to the mixed tones present in his paintings[2]. The few sparks of red, yellow and blue throughout the building are barely recognizable and the coloring of the building is left to the bare concrete. The architect takes no responsibility. In a strange way, this attitude towards color reaffirms the powers and particularity of architecture in which through the materials and through the spaces, the architect can communicate and provoke emotion. The painter is left with very little if color is taken away.

Auditório Ibirapuera, Parque Ibirapuera

Oscar Niemeryer

São Paulo, Brazil

This building by the Brazilian modern master, Niemeyer, finds its architectural power in the incredibly limited color palette. A simple combination of red and white are enough to give this building an almost supernatural aura. The white triangle volume in the middle of this enormous park serves as a symbol of purity and calmness. But, the enchantment in this building has its gorgeous reds to blame. The entrance to it is covered by a wild, curved red volume that both detracts and attracts at the same time. It serves as the best contrast to the almost unwelcoming whites[3]. The combination of the two make for a space that is able to impact the viewer in many more ways that just by its sight.


James Sterling

Stuttgart, Germany

The Staatsgalrie seems to be a building that portrays postmodernism in full swing[4]. Different from other early postmodernists such as Michael Graves, Sterling doesn’t seem to use color as a metaphor or as representations of nature. Rather, the color in the Staatsgalerie seem almost random. But the building itself questions the whole idea of randomness. While the colors don’t seem to reference nature or other architecture, the palette carries a special coherence. Even do the building certainly stands out from it’s surroundings, once you are in it magenta tubes floating around just seem to make sense.  This certainly resembles the architect’s sensibility to color. It’s not just an exclamation point. The design questions the relationship between form and color in way in which seemingly familiar forms can take on new meaning through the use of color.


[1] “The priority of from stems from Le Corbusier’s view of painting as an architectural question and also from a profound distrust of color”. Charles A. Riley, Color Codes.

[2] “But what is most striking about the palette of his painting is that they are all mixed tones”. Charles A. Riley, Color Codes. pg 210.

[3] “The problem can occasionally be that the ‘white cube’ becomes so precious, so clinical, that sensation itself seems unwelcome”. Charles A. Riley, Color 211

[4] “The radical color accents of the late James Sterling’s buildings suggest the most daunting wing of the Postmodern poetics”. Charles A. Riley, Color 217

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