Blue Architecture

  Building covered by blue tiles in front of a blue sky Copyright: © Verena Hake  

Blue as the color of the sky and the sea is almost omnipresent in nature. Traditionally connotated with vastness and distance, with longing and infinity, blue also stands for the dematerialized, the divine, for the incomprehensible, for the ephemeral.

The reasons for the use of blue in visual arts and its recurrent thematization in literature are well researched. Thus – to give just two examples – Mary's mantle is frequently depicted in blue from about the 12th century onwards, and numerous texts of the Romantic period repeatedly deal with the topos of the search for the "blue flower".

Architectural history research, on the other hand, has never taken a fundamental look at the motives for the use of blue in architecture. This is even more astonishing since the blue color of those buildings usually does not automatically result from the main building material. Rather, one can observe that they are wrapped in a blue robe only after their structural completion, and that they are undergoing a chromatic finish through the application of plaster, a coat of paint, or glazed ceramics. Accordingly, the presence of the color blue in architecture is never a coincidence or automatism, but always to be understood as the deliberate result of a specific design decision, as an intentionally created characteristic of the building that it dresses.

The research project "Blue Architecture" systematically deals with searching and finding, documenting and interpreting blue architecture from Babylon to the present. Following a diachronic, cross-cultural and cross-typological research approach, blue spaces of all scales are investigated – entire cities, individual buildings and interiors. The goal of the research project is to precisely describe the effects and atmosphere of these spaces, to trace the particular genesis of "their" blues, and thus to uncover and to understand their multifaceted layers of meaning, which are often inextricably linked to the color.

The results of the research project are currently being summarized in the form of an English-language catalog volume supplemented by a scientific essay section.



Dipl.-Ing. Architektin Verena Hake