Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Modern Skyline, Part One

Chicago River Skyline via Wikipedia
Cities today are huge influences on our lives. They are where most people live, work, create and invent.  They even influence even our walking speed. Looking at the emergent color of city skylines is one way of tracking the evolution of our dominant building materials as well as advancement in engineering skills and changing architectural trends.   Many cities have major buildings from a scattering of decades all packed in together. Historically the skyline had a decidedly earth tone palette.  The  buildings were constructed from regional stone, masonry and brick made with  soils from the geographic locale. This  view of the Chicago skyline is dominated by a color scheme of  muted grays and browns. The earth tones suggest the feeling of  strength and solidity while still being friendly  and inviting. But what will our future skylines look like?

Current Skyline Color Pallet
A rendering of the future skyline of Abu Dhabi via Construction Weekly
With the recent construction booms in China and the Middle East,  they are good places to look for the future of skylines. The rendering above is a projection of what Abu Dhabi will look like in coming decades. Shapes or placements of specific buildings may change but the color trend is clear. Admittedly all glass and metal buildings are taking over city space. The crystalline blue of the sky reflects in the glass but there is little other color.  The city skyline seems to inching toward grey scale.  With so little color the shining city of the future starts to look monochromatic.

Future Skyline Color Pallet
We are moving away from paint and nature based building materials.  Glass and steel  are the new kings of architecture. Color is left to the lighted signs of advertisers. These colors compete for our attention in busy outdoor environments.  Advancements in light technology and  flat screen projections  create  increasingly brighter and visually stimulating experiences  as evidenced by this Tokyo street corner at night.  The colors bleed together on the wet sidewalks. The future of cities and our everyday experience of color is definitely changing. On our next post we will highlight a few beautiful architectural anomalies in the skyscraper business and see how they are using shape instead of color to differentiate themselves in a glass and steel world.

Tokyo via Tokyo Nights Tumblr

- Emily Eifler, Writer, Colour Studio
- Jill Pilaroscia, Principal, Colour Studio


  1. fascinating take on city palettes!

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