What colour is the red house? Perceived colour of painted facades

University dissertation from Institutionen för arkitektur

Abstract: Architects and others choosingfacade colours using colour samples face difficulties whichprevious research has not addressed. This work aims to aid suchcolour design by exploring three main questions: 1. Is itpossible to survey and map out what colours people perceive onfacades observed under different conditions? If so, whatmethods can be used and it is possible to obtain results ofwider application? 2. How does the perceived colour of a facadevary with changing observation conditions? What is the impactof factors such as light conditions, viewing distance andsurrounding colours? 3. How does the perceived colour of thehouse, in different situations, differ from the colourcorresponding to the specification of the sample used forselection? Are there any recurring tendencies that can bepresented in a practically useful way? The work was based onabout 3600 observations of painted timber and rendered facades,made by both experienced colour researchers and "naïve"school students, with various daylighting conditions, viewingdistances and seasons. Colour specifications and discussions oncolour attributes were made within the conceptual framework ofthe Natural Colour System (NCS). Inherent colour was measuredby comparison with colour samples placed directly on the facadesurface. Six methods for determination of perceived colour weredeveloped and evaluated, along with a method for comparison ofperceived and inherent colour. A combination of all gave themost reliable results. Results showed some recurring tendenciesfor perceived colour to vary with viewing conditions, but thevariations were always smaller than the difference betweenperceived and inherent colour. Consistent variation patternsfor the difference between inherent and perceived colour werefound for both hue and nuance. Most obvious was that perceivedcolour always had less blackness than inherent colour. Possibleexplanations included differences between the outdoor viewingsituation and the standard situation where inherent colour isdefined, and the observer?s acquired sense of what colours"belong" outdoors. A fuller explanation would require furtherstudies such as of colour perception in different lightsituations, and of three dimensional context effects. Resultshave immediate applicability however; suitably illustrated andpublished, the variation patterns found could be of directpractical use in exterior colour design.