Colour in architecture and photography featured in two new exhibitions

The innovative use of colour is a major trend in contemporary architecture. The Chromazone: Colour in Contemporary Architecture display features key projects by major UK and international architects who use colour to create identity, define space and heighten our experience of a building. The long history of the use of colour in architecture, with its strong symbolic and cultural meanings, is shown through historic objects from the V&A and RIBA collections including images, drawings and models, alongside innovative and traditional material samples.

On the same theme, drawing on material from the British Architectural Library's extensive collections, the RIBA Library is showing The Polychrome Lens: Colour in Architectural Photography examining the history of colour in photography. Illustrating early attempts involving toning and hand-tinting in the 19th century, the exhibition reveals the results of significant advances made following the introduction of new technology in the 1930s and 40s and the explosion of colour in the architectural press during the 1970s and 80s. The exhibition exposes the influence that colour photography has had on architecture right up to the present day.

Chromazone: Colour in contemporary architecture

Until 19 May 2013. V&A/RIBA Architecture Gallery Room 128a at the V&A Cromwell Road, London SW7. Free entrance

The Polychrome Lens: Colour in Architectural Photography.

Until 31 January 2013. RIBA, 66 Portland Place, London, W1. Free entrance

Last Tuesday: Colour Me Vertical, Tuesday 27 November 2012, 6 - 10pm

The Last Tuesday of November will be an evening exploring colour, light and architecture. The RIBA at 66 Portland Place, London, W1 will be host to a series of events, films and live music including:

Rainbow Dance

Film, 6pm (on loop all evening)

Commissioned by the Post Office to promote its savings bank, this film directed by Len Lye in 1936 was part of an experimental movement in film, advertising and propaganda.

Full of energy, it is a riot of colour and music and it was made by drawing directly onto colour film, a process known as Gasparcolor, and features a series of abstract and fast moving scenes that vividly show off the technique to its fullest.

Film courtesy of the British Film Insitute (BFI)

Street Colour: The Forgotten Art of Dorothy Annan

Talk, 6.30 - 7.10pm, £5

Dorothy Annan’s colourful telecommunications murals on Farringdon Road, London (1963) show the impact of scientific imagery on Swinging London. The nine specially commissioned and signed tile murals that line the now derelict Fleet building are a testament to the spirit of optimism and excitement around the new technology and communications that was transforming Britain at the time.

Threatened with demolition, C20 Society successfully campaigned for them to be listed, but most of her other works have been lost. Lara Schroder from the Twentieth Century Society leads a talk asking what should happen to the murals now.

21st Century Light Space Modulator: an installation by Jason Bruges Studio

Gallery Tour, 6.30 - 7pm of the exhibition open until 29 January 2013

Talk at 6.30pm

In summer 2012 Jason Bruges Studio transformed an under-loved public space on London's Southbank with a landmark design commissioned by Havells Sylvania, the lighting arm of India's largest lighting and electrical manufacturer, and the Southbank Centre.

For this installation at the RIBA Jason Bruges Studio opens up the design process to reveal the Studio's approach on the site - fusing technology and culture to bring the space to life through interactivity and playfulness using a variety of materials, colours, light effects and sensing technology.

The 21st Century Light Space Modulator pays homage to the dynamic, theatrical light props created by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy at the Bauhaus in 1930. The spectacular results are a series of evolving urban interventions that react instinctively to their location, choreographed by activity and motion from the surrounding environment.

In bringing the installation to RIBA Jason Bruges Studio and Havells Sylvania are able to reflect on the process of creating the 21st Century Light Space Modulator, and show the impact that an urban spectacle can have on generating positive conversations and uplifting the built environment in unexpected and surprising ways.



Notes to editors

  • For further information and images please contact Beatrice Cooke at the RIBA Press Office on 020 7307 3813; or
  • To download press images from 'Chromazone: Colour in contemporary architecture' visit:
  • To download press images from 'The Polychrome Lens: Colour in Architectural Photography' visit:
  • The V&A + RIBA Architecture Gallery Room is located in room 128a at the V&A. The V&A is open Monday to Sunday 10am – 5.45pm and until 10pm every Friday evening. Admission to the display is free, as is admission to the V&A. For further information go to
  • About the V&A+RIBA Architecture Partnership: In 2005 the V&A and the RIBA opened the UK's first permanent architecture gallery and study rooms at the V&A. The Partnership brings together the RIBA's drawings and archives collections and the V&A's collections of architectural drawings and photographs to one location – at the V&A. For further information go to:
  • The RIBA library exhibitionat 66 Portland Place, London W1B 1AD is open Tuesday 10am - 8pm, Wednesday and Friday 10am - 5pm, Saturday 10am - 1.30pm (Closed Sunday, Monday, Thursday).
  • The Royal Institute of British Architects champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and its members. and