An illustration and text for Saturated Space by Renzo Campisi, Architect and Illustrator:
Architects design spaces and they choose colours for these spaces. Colours are chosen to guide you while you are experiencing the architecture; they are chosen to make you relaxed or excited or focused or happy or to make the spaces wider, taller, grander, warmer, more homey, posher, political or just recognizable.
But it often seems that there isn’t enough thought about those spaces which are filled with people and their colours. Most of the time people are just the numbers which we shape our areas for. For much less of the time, they are colours which inspire us, and in turn inspire the spaces we design. People and colours are woven so tightly together that thinking about the one without the other can only mean something is missing.
Shouldn’t a school designed in the UK be different from a school designed in Italy, not only because of weather and orientation, urban fabric and location, but also because of its students’ uniforms? How do their spaces respond to the fact that in the UK, the students inhabiting the classrooms will be wearing uniforms (one singular, or binary of colours) while in Italy uniforms are not used at all (a patchwork quilt of colours)? Shouldn’t the foyer of a big office building be primed and ready to welcome and respond to the hordes of men wearing black, grey, blue suits and women wearing pastel colours?
Architecture should and does guide people with colours, and amaze them; but its role need not be restricted to this: it can respond, intimately, to the colours people bring with them.
In our profession we have been talking a lot about a flexible architecture, able to respond to different needs from time to time and place to place. Does this flexibility include colour? What about an architecture able to come into contact with the people who are experiencing the space at that moment, an architecture which responds with measured balance, contrasts, calibrated emphasis, and which never fails to over or under saturate in complementarity to and with its occupants, and the colours they bring with them?
That would definitely amaze.