Using a specific colour strategy when choosing not only the colour scheme, but also the placement and proportions of colours used, can be invaluable.
Each of these components provides a ‘visual colour language’ to intuitively guide people throughout a given area so they are aware of the point of origin, are given visual clues whilst they navigate the space, and ultimately know when they have found their destination.
Intelligent colour design can be applied in very specific ways to the built environment and affect how a space is used. The choice of colour palette, contrast levels, and importantly, the placement and proportions of each colour will affect human behaviour and the resulting emotional response.
This is evident where colour is used to direct people intuitively through a space to their required destination by highlighting specific areas or focal points within the space. This is known as wayfinding. The ease by which this process happens can elevate emotions by eliminating the stress that is caused when people are lost or anxious.
The Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital, in Brisbane, Queensland’s largest specialist children’s hospital, is a shining example. The facility was a joint venture between architectural practices Conrad Gargett and Lyons. The design of the hospital is based around the concept of a “living tree”, resembling a network of trunks, branches and leaves, creating a logical sense of order within the internal spaces.
Dotdash, Brisbane-based specialists in wayfinding design and visual communication in the built environment, were commissioned to design and integrate a wayfinding strategy. The strategy included reinterpreting the architecture itself as a wayfinding device, along with the inclusion of a collection of signage and graphics to provide a unified system of navigation throughout the facility.
The inclusion of visual navigation cues such as large, but specific, areas of high contrast colour applied to certain walls and floors. These served to highlight key areas such as lift foyers, information counters and entrances.
Colour was also used to provide a further level of identification within the hospital, with each floor allocated a single colour theme. People cannot help but be ‘led’ by the colour cues throughout.
Not only was the strategy for visitors to find their way as effortlessly as possible through the hospital to their desired destination, but also to distract from the nature of the medical environment itself. Colour has been used to effectively direct the hospital visitors, both young patients and their parents, through the facility and to alleviate their mood by reducing the anxiety that is usually prevalent in such an environment.
The use of intelligent colour design has created a user-friendly and supportive environment in what is normally very stressful surroundings.