Architecture, Colour, Designers, Landscape, Nature | 08 October 2021
Colourways drawn from the landscape.
“Mere colour can speak to the soul in a thousand different ways,” Oscar Wilde.
Jem Waygood of Waygood Colour advises councils, architects, developers, planners and conservation officers on how to use colour so that buildings sit sensitively within the landscape.
After reading about Jem in the monthly e-mag “Beam,” curated by conservation architect Claire Truman for those interested in ethical living, we asked Claire if we could republish the piece here (adapted below) and asked Jem to help us with one of our projects.
Colourways drawn from the landscape.
Extract by Beam with Kiss House update
Jem Waygood, of Waygood Colour, specialises in environmental colour design creating and developing colour palettes from landscape analysis. Jem works predominantly in particularly sensitive landscapes such as Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
He worked on a colour study offering guidance on the use of colour and materials for development in the Malvern Hills AONB. Jem explains, “I visited various landscape character types within the AONB. I then documented the dominant colours and tonality of each type, and from this I developed colour ranges that would integrate well with the landscape. Whilst the study provides general guidance, it highlights how significant colour decisions can be in the success or otherwise of changes to a protected landscape.”
An opportunity to apply the guidance to a site-specific design arose with the proposal for a new school in Colwall, Herefordshire to the west of the Malvern Hills, within the AONB. Jem explains, “A Landscape and Visual Impact Assessment (LVIA) was undertaken and as part of this process I was asked to prepare an Environmental Colour Assessment (ECA) aimed at achieving a clear understanding of the colour context in which the building would sit.”
Jem explained his process: “Colour survey work of the immediate site was followed by high level views from the ridgeline of the Malvern Hills, initially to identify the tonality of the site so that the roof material of the new school would be largely invisible when seen from the hills.”
“Whilst the study provides general guidance, it highlights how significant colour decisions can be in the success or otherwise of changes to a protected landscape.”
In developing the colour palettes, Jem explained that he was looking for signs of natural play spaces within the landscape, for example the ramparts and ditches of an iron age fortification and rope swings by the stream which bounded the site. From such landscape clues Jem drew out what he calls “memory colours” — generated by a particularly resonant feature, whether broad scale in the landscape or the smallest piece of lichen. These were worked into the colour palette alongside the landscape character colours previously identified, and the local volcanic geology.
“After synthesising this colour data into a representative palette, I produced a couple of colourways to try out some options that would help integrate the school into its surroundings, communicate its function and form, and look bright and welcoming to the pupils,” Jem explained.
The result is a building that sits in harmony with its environment. The cladding colours used blend beautifully with the surrounding landscape and the result is that the building is only minimally visible from the Malvern Hills.
The Kiss House team was so taken with Jem’s work that we asked him to advise on a project we have in planning in Reading, Berkshire. The project was in a rather different landscape to those Jem usually works in, as it was in the city centre rather than a protected landscape, however the principles were much the same. The starting point was a desire for the buildings to blend into their surroundings sensitively.
“It was a fascinating exercise that made us focus deeply on what we were seeing. The result was a surprisingly beautiful colour palette.”
Jem was unable to visit site personally due to lockdown restrictions but under his guidance, Emma Bradbury and Carli Jordan set out for site one Saturday afternoon with a NCS Colour Index 1950 in hand to spend a couple of hours matching local materials to colour references. “It was a fascinating exercise that made us focus deeply on what we were seeing. The result was a surprisingly beautiful colour palette of copper tones, reds, greens, greys and violets found in the Victorian brick and slate, plus local evergreen trees.”
Following our survey of the site the team contacted Jem with the findings and for material suggestions. The project for two four-bedroom houses is still in planning and we’ll update you when we know what’s happening. We hope that the sensitive material and colour palette selected helps us to achieve a planning consent…
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