A Case for Color

Observation on the colorful transformations of socialist architecture in former Czechoslovakia.

text | Project Journal | 2015 Winter Issue


Excerpt from an article published in PROJECT journal:

Given the capacity of paint to obscure the age of the buildings, and hence alter our relationship to them as historical artifacts, color would appear to be a simple yet powerful tool for addressing the aging stock of socialist architecture in former Czechoslovakia. The deployment of brightly painted patterns on the exterior of existing structures signifies a will to preserve those structures and indicates a new relationship between modernity and preservation.

The colorful paneláky remind us that paint is more than decoration. If the architectural façade is understood as a representational device – with paint, through its coverage of the architectural surface, acting as a mediator between the object and the subject – then we can see the importance of color as “the interface between buildings and vision.” This quality of paint should not be dismissed. The application of pigmented color in such a manner deserves more robust investigation, as color raises issues not only of representation but, by its ability to alter and activate the existing urban fabric, of preservation and adaptation as well.