My recent posts at World-Architects


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Literary Dose #6

"[...] we see an infatuation with drab, gray surfaces of raw concrete. Everyone I ask (with the notable exception of some architects) finds such surfaces morbid and depressing; and yet architects keep building them. Even worse, they go to great lengths to prevent their users from painting them with color so as to stop the deadening effect. Where paint is allowed to be used, again it is often restricted to depressing shades of gray. This is in stark contrast to historical and vernacular architectures around the world. The greatest buildings of the past are very colorful (or were before their color faded from weathering). Owner-built dwellings employ all the color they can find to intensify visual response from wall surfaces. Color appears to satisfy a fundamental human need, as shown by children's art (before they are conditioned to a gray industrial world) and folk art."
- Nikos A. Salingaros from A Theory of Architecture (2006)


  1. pure unsubstantiated, uncompromising, polemic. overlooks the reality that architects don't get to build in concrete cuz they want to, but only after a client agrees to it. It sounds like concrete is an imposition by a designer but if he ever tried practicing architecture instead of just advising/theorising salingaros would soon learn that clients have their own tastes and in general see their buildings built to their own criteria.

    That some architects are better than others is i think a better observation of modern architecture than making a flat rejection of certain materials based on salingaros' color preferences. IE, the recent building in Porto by OMA is beautiful...and all concrete. Maybe it would have looked better in color, but i doubt it.

    polemics are great for students cuz they can cover ignorance with bluster, but for mature architects is pure masturbation...and this particular book a nasty bit of hard porn...;-)

  2. Salingaros' theory aside, I think this week's dose is a (coincidentally) fine example of architects using concrete and color simultaneously, not a common practice.

  3. i agree completely with salingaros on this, this anti-color and anti-pleasure in architecture is all part of the old bauhaus rhetoric preaching gloomy industrial-themed buildings. of course architects can build and design anyway its just that 98% of architects take the bauhaus ideology as the word of god and view it as the only acceptable way to build.

    btw salingaros' book is not from 1993 its from 2006

  4. Thanks for the correction, Bob. Me and my copy and paste!


Comments are moderated for spam.