Colour and Contingency: Theory into Practice

Fiona McLachlan, Ewen McLachlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Along with physical form, spatial articulation and the expression of materiality, colour is an essential medium though which buildings are experienced, and its application can mediate the perception of other elements. A number of well-developed colour theories exist, yet their traction in the practice of architectural design appears minimal. This paper considers colour theory in the context of architectural practice, specifically though examples elicited from interviews with a number of practitioners. It reviews particular colour theories, and suggests that, for such thinking to become more widely integrated into practice, a transactional approach is needed, with both aspects drawing on, and informing, the other. Research that seeks to enhance the understanding of the strategic use of colour within architectural design practice could identify diverse, individual, and empirically based approaches, that may inform the development of post-positivist theoretical models.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-258
Number of pages16
JournalArchitectural Theory Review
Issue number2
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 27 Feb 2015


  • Colour, theory, cognitive models, decision-making, uncertainty, architectural design, practice


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