Colour? What Colour? A difficult understanding between urban environment' professionals and users.
Authors: Cristina caramelo gomes
Abstract: The built environment witnessed in the last years significant challenges and changes. From the growing of population inhabiting urban areas, natural disasters, and a pandemic context, built environment disclosers its impact in human experience. Based on the concepts of human centred design and social and cultural sustainability, urban solutions have been developing to improve and qualify user experience. The layout of public and private spaces has been challenged in its formal configuration, dimensions, and equipment, by means of research, available data, and the success of some practices. This movement has been beneficial to city centres, but it is expanding to dwelling peripheries, boosting multifunctionalities and solutions oriented to human requirements and expectancies answering to a need well recognised and experienced during the pandemic context.Despite the changes and the good examples, colour as a vital parameter of visual communication, is still neglected and applied as a simple aesthetic component. Repeatedly, the chromatic palettes are based on (inter)national fashion trends, disregarding the geography, climate, and culture of the place. Colour focus and/or blur our attention, while emphasising and/or disguising an element in its context, organising the space, aiding in orientation while communicating messages and symbols that illustrate the identity of the place and the community. Colour has the ability of challenge the perception of the volumes - despite their nature and scale – and spaces regarding their formal shape, proportions, visual weight, and texture. Furthermore, colour as an element of urban environment, expresses the hierarchy of the elements and their order in the environmental composition with respect to function, structure, etc. Furthermore, colour defines how individuals visually experience the environ, and as a medium it gives significance, emotional attitude, and functional information, emerging as a crucial attribute in human perception of the built environment.Numerous reasons can justify the repeated negligence in the use of colour in urban environ: the fear of using colour, unawareness, (or lack of skills) about how to use it, the copy of international and/or awarded models, and the use of finishing materials and colour tendencies, among others. However, this is a common reality for designers and architects, which sets the hypothesis of these professionals are unaware of the roles performed by colour and its impact in human daily living, while experiencing environments, products, and communication systems.The aim of this research paper is to raise the discussion regarding the way colour is neglected in the design of urban space although its importance to define the user experience. From the discussion we expect to have a better understanding of the problem and propose some guidelines to minimise it. To achieve the expected results, this piece of research will be supported by literature review related with the identified keywords and the analysis of some case studies in the Portuguese context. Literature review aims to explore the concepts and justify its importance not only for this study but in the urban planning, and the case studies to illustrate the (un)aware use of colour and its impact in place and community identity.
Keywords: urban environment, human centred design, colour, place identity, social and cultural sustainability
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