The global obsession with the visual seems to be overtaking every aspect of our lives, but its most significant impact lies in the way it affects our purchasing habits. These decisions are reliant on first impressions, and visual cues are the determining factor in the process of making viable investment choices. Thanks to the democratization of architectural publishing and the proliferation of 3d software, the overwhelming variety of produced imagery in architecture has brought on a situation in which decisions are made within seconds and ideas rejected at first glance.

The general aim of architectural visualization is to generate visually appealing scenes that showcase the project’s main features and generate desirable emotional and behavioral responses. The use of color schemes, textures, lighting effects and atmosphere can make or break the deal. Here, we will focus on the influence of color on the final outcome of the creative process and its role in determining the success of the final product. A well-balanced image may do the trick, but in dealing with corporate architecture and firms who outsource their rendering work to freelancers and specialized visualization firms, one has to factor in the moods and color schemes already present in the firm’s portfolio. From the standpoint of decision makers and clients, the images presented by the render artists may be of the highest quality, but if they don’t comply with the market rules they may as well be napkin doodles. The emotional and psychological role of color in business can not be overestimated. There is a science to choosing the right color scheme in every aspect of identity building, but in architectural visualization this issue becomes even more complex. One has to pay attention to the client’s requirements, target audience, type of building, purpose of the image and, most importantly, physical laws that determine the validity of aesthetic choices depending on the characteristics of the represented space. There are numerous websites that attempt to explain the practical application of color theory in business and when it comes to the primary colors, there is an obvious consensus. In simple business logic, yellows are usually associated with optimism, well-being and youth. Greens are recognized as colors of growth and sustainability; red tones create a sense of urgency, while blue represents stability and trust. In terms of architectural representation, these simple rules are complicated by the introduction of space, materials, textures, function and climate, with the added issues of catering to the expectations of different user groups. The best way to approach the issue is to look at specific examples.

The Sleuk Rith Institute by Zaha Hadid Architects, image by MIR


The institute is meant to function as center for the research of Cambodian genocide. Accordingly, the images feature a dramatic sky and, in the case of the main panoramic view, the colors are slightly desaturated and hazy to project the passage of time as well as to showcase the scale of the project. Closer shots of the building feature more saturated orange tones that depict the warmth and natural qualities of the timber structure. Norway-based visualization firm MIR produced an accompanying video in which these subtle decisions become even more obvious.

Istanbul 2020 Culture and Sports Park by Teoman Ayas


When it comes to master plan proposals, meant to imply the distribution of volumes instead of a single detailed building, most designers opt for monochromatic images. The uniformity of white masses and surrounding urban tissue make the proposal look like a natural extension of the terrain and give the impression that the proposed interventions belongs on a specific location. In this example, designed by a student at Yale School of Architecture (YSOA) for the Istanbul waterfront, the flowing tentacles and Hadid-like tectonics look like an elegant artificial landscape emerging from the shoreline.

Shopping Mall by Andrew Kusuma


London-based designer Andrew Kusuma produced an image of a shopping mall that follows the logic of rendering exterior views of commercial buildings. Kusuma chose dusk for his setting in order to accentuate the appeal of the building. Colorful signage, with warm temperatures of the predominant lighting act in contrast to the tones of the sky.

The Marvel Superheroes Theme Park viz by Chimera Design


Marvel’s superheroes – including Spider-Man, Iron Man, The X-Men, Incredible Hulk, The Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer – are coming to Dubai for a major new theme park destination being developed by AAG. This concept artwork by Chimera Design uses color to draw the eye towards the center of the image, wrapped in a looping structural ribbon. Along with the composition, the color plays a pivotal role in the success of the design. There are no visible figures-the color gradients and light provide enough information about the interior and promise to bring you into a world of excitement and fun. The same principle is applied in LUXIGON’s rendering for the Rock Museum and Festival HQ designed by MVRDV, which uses vivid colors to portray an image of a space offering something for everyone.

Populous stadium South Korea


The main rendering for Populous’ design of the main stadium in Incheon, South Korea, follows the unwritten rules of rendering. The colors of the cityscape are muted so to accentuate the new building in the foreground. Just like with opera houses, shopping malls and other commercial buildings, the images are meant to showcase the new structure as a social catalyst and epicenter of urban life.

Boston Culture Center, image by Alex Hogrefe


The night perspective of the Boston Culture Center is dominated by deep shadows and dark colors. The film-noir atmosphere of the image is meant to convey a sense of a busy city life, with harsh weather forcing the hurried passers-by into the building as it were an oasis. A gentle light emanates from the heart of the building and gives the image the much needed element of coziness and warmth.

Guest room by Quoroom


This rendering for a guest room, by New York-based Quoroom, uses color to convey the inviting atmosphere of the space. Diffuse natural lighting and warm colors complement the coziness of the setting. Wood surfaces of the furniture and floor are complemented by the beige tone of the bed covers and drapes in order to appeal to customers.

Capture Wind A Wind Farm in the Tropopause, by Jiaqi Sun, Chang Liu, Mingxuan Qin


This proposal for the eVolo Skyscraper Competition sports blue tones that go with the main theme of wind power generation. The use of clouds and sky is expected considering the position of the structures. However, the designers used various shades and hues of blue for different types of clouds and atmospheric effects in order to accentuate the high altitude at which the futuristic turbines would operate. Even the settlements below feature a bluish haze in order to facilitate visual continuity.

  • David Noel

    I am from a little, typical Italian town called Ascoli Piceno, studying in Roma3 university, my fifth and finally year. At the moment in Istanbul, I am working on my thesis research. In the picture above, I’m on top of the highest skyscraper in Turkey, drinking a çay, yes a çay, the typical Turkish tea, just because here the espressos are not really espressos. Traveling inspires me, living in a different city inspires me

    Architectural Visualization | Architectural Design | Architectural Rendering | Cedar College | Interior Design Styles