• Omar Garcia

Color as a Generator for Architecture

This is part two, and the last part (for now) in the Designing Through Color blog set.

Color as a generator of architecture.

It was a difficult concept to grasp as the semester moved along. Yet, I stand here today on the other side of a final and the criticisms about the studio were rather positive. Color certainly has some attributes for architecture to take and run with. That's what I'll be explaining in this post. How do Color and Architecture blend? And where do we go from here?


The best place to start this discussion comes from the piece that was the biggest struggle this semester. How does color give you form? How does it give you shape and structure?

And while it would've saved me a good two weeks if I had understood this right away, there was a lot more to put together before coming to this conclusion.

Color, in fact, does not give you form. Color does not inherently give you shape or structure. At least, that was my experience this past four months.

So how then do you get a form from Color?

Well, you need to factor in other items. We looked at a few things:

  • Material

  • Color Application

  • Atmosphere

While there certainly are other items you can use to allow Color to create a form, these are the big hitters we focused on. They helped create constructive conversations as we dove deeper into the abyss.

Color Application

How are we planning to use Color? Is it about using a paintbrush and applying it directly to drywall? Or is it about exploring other ways of applying Color? Could we instead dye Color, infuse Color, chemically induce Color, cook Color, squeeze Color? When it comes to how you apply Color, there's plenty of more options than the traditional paintbrush.

And yes, some of these applications have the type of material somewhat built into them. There are only so many types of materials you can use to chemically induce color or infuse Color into. Still, it's important to look into these methods. I certainly was blindsided to the idea of cooking Colors. That would definitely not smell great.

I chose to infuse Color in my project. Many of my colleagues used other methods like radiating Color, swirling Color, rusting Color (patina). But since I know my project down to the foundation, I'll be using it as a means of explaining these concepts such as infusing Color.


How do you infuse color? It's a similar process to dyeing Color. Firstly, you need a material that allows for color to be infused within it. I used a concrete aggregate, and like most concrete, you can control the tone of its Color by adding pigment to the aggregate mix.

Pigmented concrete is truly incredible. Of course, it will fade into a more desaturated color once the sun takes its toll. But the impact of the color remains. And, in the case of my project, Aura, the pigmented concrete aggregate also contained optical fibers, giving the material translucency.

This ultimately gave the space both an infusion of Color in its materiality, but then allowed for the material to radiate this color into the space as these glowing forms. Depending on the resolution of the aggregate and the density of the envelope (walls and roof), Color was further enhanced by the varying intensities of light and shadow throughout the day.

It's crazy to think material like concrete could allow for something like this to happen!


This is what really matters most. What will the space give to you? Or maybe best, what will you remember fondly about the space? Hopefully, in this case, it will be Color. More specifically, how Color transformed the space with its variance in tonality, glow, saturation and other big moments generated.

In the case of Auras, hopefully it is remembered for the ecstatic glowing figures it generates from the light cast through the colored walls and roof. Or how the striations generate different tones and light intensity. Or maybe even its play on the concept of pouring this material and how it spills out where the layers begin to peel away. Its moments like these where Color begins to transcend its typical wall application and is transformed architecturally.

Final Thoughts on Color

So now that you've learned a bit more about how Color can breed design, it's time to look around you and see moments where this design occurs. And be curious about it! Did you know wood can also be dyed using powders?

If you're looking to switch things up in your home, thinking through Color can be the catalyst for inspiring and unique designs. Don't simply paint over things! Use Color in these different ways and through this experimentation, you will find something that connects with you and changes how you see Color and how you interact with it in other parts of your life.

Here's a couple of links where I learned about some of these items:

Translucent Concrete

Wood Dyeing