New Urbanisms of Colour in Contemporary Urban and Landscape Design

New Urbanisms of Colour in Contemporary Urban and Landscape Design

This open seminar presented as part of the Landscape Architecture PhD Seminars at the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture for the academic year 2022 -2023 has been open licensed and shared for viewing and re-use on Media Hopper Create.



Colour design in built environments is generally treated with attitudes of a somewhat conservative nature. Compared to neutral colours and colours that are inherent to materials, brighter colours and those that are high in chroma (defined hereafter as saturated colours) appear less frequently in environmental colour design. This research is undergirded by the observation that the presence of saturated colours has become more prevalent in the design of urban spaces in recent years, particularly in the context of social media posts and reports on design and architecture websites. Along with the emergence of more striking colours, new expressive ways of using colour have also sprung up in urban spaces. The prevalence of saturated colours and emerging new colour expressions can be regarded as having arisen as an important force in shaping the appearance of contemporary urban landscapes around the world. Yet, beyond the growing number of pictures of projects hosted on social platforms and reports from design sites, less than expected is known about this dramatic change in the design language of environmental colour. This research contributes to knowledge of both colour and urban literature by providing an overview of this emerging phenomenon in design and a perspective of urbanisms of colour to understand this dramatic change of colour in contemporary urban and landscape design. By evaluating colour as a semiotic resource that is shaped and reshaped by the society for the purpose of communication, this research provides a critical perspective of understating changes of colour in contemporary urban and landscape design. It also provides design practitioners with ways to read saturated colours and the rationale for using them in urban contexts.



Beichen Yu achieved her MA in Urban Design at the University of Sheffield. She is going to be awarded a PhD degree in Landscape Architecture at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on the changes in colour design in urban spaces over the past 20 years. She has contributed publications in both conference proceedings and peer-reviewed journals to spark discussion on the emerging use of saturated colour in contemporary urban environments and its link to urbanism.

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