Colour here, there and in-between: Placemaking and wayfinding in mental health environments

Fiona McLachlan, Xuechang Leng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Colour design in mental healthcare environments is acutely significant. Sensory acuity may be impaired through age, illness or heightened stress and anxiety. While research has played a role in the development of guidance on the use of colour in such environments, this paper suggests that this tends to be followed in a dogmatic, risk-averse manner and predominately without professional design input, leading to monotonous and under-stimulating environments. The paper reports on two case study projects by the authors, involving user participation and student volunteers. These colour design installations provide examples of practice-led applied research within occupied healthcare facilities. The paper discusses the significance of site-specific colour design in relation to place-making and wayfinding with reference to previous research that considers the role of colour as part of the everyday experience of all users, in contrast to an approach focussed solely on the behaviour of patients. It concludes that colour design knowledge developed and applied through ‘real world’ live projects, involving students as part of their architectural education can address some of the shortcomings of laboratory or staged colour research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-139
Number of pages15
JournalColor Research and Application
Issue number1
Early online date9 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2021

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • colour
  • architecture
  • art
  • healthcare environments
  • place-making
  • interior design


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