With the tremendous success of the Bauhaus style in the 20th century, there was a retreat from the use of color in architecture initially. Modernism came to be synonymous with purism – and that meant white. The roughly 4000 “International Style” buildings that have gone up in Tel Aviv since the 1930s, for example, have been tellingly dubbed the “White City” and have been registered as such on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
But white has not always been this dominant: even the temples, palaces, gods and human images of the ancient Greeks were multicolored – adorned with bright pigments such as vermilion red, cobalt blue and malachite green. Yet only traces of these vivid colors have survived the ravages of time, which is why the buildings and sculptures of Greece appear to have only ever had bare, unpainted surfaces of natural limestone and marble.
With the rise of postmodern architecture in the 1980s, however, more and more architects have found the courage to explore bright colors. “Color has made a comeback in architectural design over the past few decades,” explains Juan Serra of the Universitat Politècnica de València, who has conducted and published a great deal of research on the use of color in architecture.
Their colors and surface texture are what turn exterior coatings into a design element, defining the look both of individual buildings and of entire regions. When we think of Sweden, for example, most of us picture red wooden buildings, while the baroque structures of Central Europe stand out in bright pastels, and the old quarters of Paris are adorned with sandy, champagne-colored plasters.
In addition to their appearance, however, exterior coatings also have a practical side, protecting buildings from external influences such as cold, rain, ice and UV radiation. WACKER has developed a new binder designed to make brilliant colors last: “Our new PRIMIS® AF 1000 dispersion effectively stabilizes coating pigments to produce a facade that will remain intact and attractive for a long time to come,” says Dr. Markus Busold, global market manager for coatings at WACKER POLYMERS.