“We consider colour as a language that communicates ideas, messages and identifies personalities and periods of history. We believe that colour is an extremely economical way to activate the transformation of any environment; it can make spaces look smaller, larger. It marks places and gives them distinction….”
… so says architect Francesco Draisci of Draisci Studio, whose recent London project Kitty’s Coloured House featured in New London Architecture’s exhibition, Don’t Move Improve. The studio tackled the classic Victorian house by leaving its front facade untouched then opening up the rooms behind it using storage in a variety of carefully considered colours to link the various spaces together. The eye follows this storage idea as it wends through various rooms. “We carefully studied the transitions from one colour to the next to make them appear naturally random, but also to guide the views through the changing levels of the same environment,” says Francesco. This telescopic effect is at its most dramatic when viewed through the rear of the house, now heavily glazed to provide plenty of light and ventilation to the basement.
With the intention of creating better links between house and garden, the studio has mapped a beautiful open plan from the basement kitchen onwards, then layered colours into their design. It starts along the working wall of the kitchen – a mix of zingy yellow and green – then merges into the adjoining living area, where the huge storage wall is picked out in warmer, earthier orange. “We used colour for the approximate zoning of the functional areas (preparing food, bar area, display of books and objects), but also to play with different lighting conditions: the rear of the house has more glazed openings and the cooler north exposure warms up and becomes fresher when bouncing off the bright yellows and greens,” Francesco says.
The brief called for a toilet, laundry room and maximum storage capacity on the ground floor and all of this is concealed in a second, quieter grey storage wall that runs along the opposite wall to the kitchen and has concealed doors. “We integrated a boiler and services as well as extra storage for the kitchen, a toilet with basin and a laundry with a generous counter integrating a sink next to a large surface for folding clothes, and space for hanging them to dry. This strategy resolved the usual visual clutter of services and operational areas,” says Francesco.
“We start every project without preconceived ideas about colour. We often study colours as a response to light and mood (objectively) as well as personal taste (subjectively). We like the power of vivid colours to bring joy and energy to environments, but we also like to consider whites, greys and blacks as colour possibilities appropriate to some projects,” adds Francesco.