The Colours of…. | Birkhäuser publication

The Colours Of.... | Birkhäuser, 2015

Recently, Birkhäuser published “The Colours of…“, a 376-page publication, including 250 color illustrations – by Iwan Baan, Christian Richters, Roland Halbe and Philippe Ruault -, described as a specifier of material, substance, light, texture, form and colour – and in the end of human emotion. […] Color is inextricably linked with architecture; as a design element and also as an inherent quality, it characterizes the shape and texture of the built fabric.
Highlighting the work of Frank O. Gehry, Jean Nouvel, Wang Shu and a handfull of other well-known architects, MovingCities contributed to “The Colours of…” with a 3,000 word essay – called Wang Shu, Translating tradition for modern times. Order here, GoogleBooks there and preview after the break.

The Colours Of.... | Birkhäuser, 2015

The Colours of… | About

The book presents extraordinary color schemes, both in terms of technology and aesthetics, for ground-breaking architecture with a wide spectrum of functions: from apartment to concert hall, from flagship store to city park. The focus is on the works of the three architects Frank O. Gehry, Jean Nouvel and Wang Shu. This is expanded by the works of other practices such as BIG, Zaha Hadid, Herzog & de Meuron, Toyo Ito and SANAA. The large-format photographs fascinate with their clarity and presence.

The Colours of… | Introduction by Cees W. de Jong

Colour is important to our lives, perhaps even essential. Artists, designers and architects all use colour in their own unique and intensely personal way. Colour reflects the turbulence that rocks societies around the world we live in. […] This new book, is inspired by a study of projects by Frank O. Gehry, Jean Nouvel and Wang Shu, architects who have totally different fundamental principles and who consistently produce surprising work. The creative process comprises a myriad of decisions, often based on long traditions and extensive research, that subsequently lead to unexpected outcomes.

The Colours Of.... | Birkhäuser, 2015

The Colours Of.... | Birkhäuser, 2015

Wang Shu, Translating tradition for modern times [extract]
essay by Bert de Muynck/MovingCities

What intrigues Wang Shu most is the way of looking, not only as an intellectual activity but also as a physical exercise for the mind and body. In an interview with Wang Shu in March 2014 conducted while I was working on the ‘ADAPTATION architecture and change in China 应变——中国的建筑和变化’ exhibition for the 2014 Venice Architecture Biennale, I discussed with him the use of the Chinese roof and the courtyard in his work, elements that I consider derive directly (albeit adapted and reinterpreted) from traditional Chinese forms and typologies. While talking about architecture and adaptation over tea, coffee and cigarettes, Wang Shu tells me:

I’m very careful when it comes to architectural references or adaptations. For example, when I design a courtyard some people will say, ‘Oh this is so Chinese! It comes from China’s traditions.’ But usually I’m careful when designing and thinking about a courtyard. If I can’t get the real feeling, a fresh feeling, I will not do it. I know about courtyards, I talk about them, but to design a courtyard isn’t just a matter of designing a courtyard; one has to think seriously about it. I designed a house in Nanjing with a halfopen courtyard inside, and several teaching buildings in the Xiangshan Campus in Hangzhou also feature courtyards. But this doesn’t mean these are real courtyards. My new project in the mountains of Ningbo is the first project where I have done a real courtyard. My courtyard references and inspirations come directly from different Chinese traditional paintings, most of them more than 1000 years old. These courtyards exist only in the paintings, not in reality. Painting has a different angle on and relation to reality. I like this painterly perspective because it allows you to have a different vision of reality.


In March 2014, I asked him what has changed in these post-Pritzker times in terms of the critical reception and understanding of his work. “People – usually the younger generation – often talk about shape or movement in my architectural work,” Wang Shu says.

It seems that shape or form is the easiest topic for them to discuss. In China, I have heard that there are some copies of my work in different places, some of them small, some big or even huge. People call me to ask whether I really designed a work in such-and-such a place and I tell them I have no idea and that I’ve never been there (laughs). ‘But I found a work very similar to yours, and it so huge,’ they reply. It may be influenced by my work, but then only in a very shallow way. For me it is not important whether there are copies or adaptations of my work. This is something that you can talk about, not me. All I can do is share my feelings about this.

The Colours Of.... | Birkhäuser, 2015

Pictures by Birkhäuser.

China Academy of Art Xiangshan Campus | CAA Hotel by Amateur Architecture Studio, 2013

Pictures by MovingCities.


The Colours of…
edited by Mattie, Erik
Birkhäuser, Januari 2015, 376pp, €44.95 / $63.00


The Colours of… | GoogleBooks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *