in urban planning, architecture and design
a collaboration between France Lavergene-Cler and Melanie Yonge
Working throughout the world, we specialise in CHROMATIC URBAN LANDSCAPE MOOD STUDIES at the scale of town planning and architecture for large-scale urban development and renewal projects.
LIGHT, MATERIAL AND COLOUR are tools to construct space and shape the environment at the crossroads of architecture and design. Our multidisciplinarity is dedicated to the landscape, urban and social environments. To develop the concepts of CHROMATIC MOODS© and GEOCHROMIE©, our logical analysis and aesthetic research reveals the Chromatic Synthesis of a site at the scale of urban planning in a region. France Lavergne-Cler began this comprehensive approach in the early 1970’s taking into account climatic, geographic, cultural and socio-economic aspects.
Each project is initiated with an in situ CHROMATIC URBAN LANDSCAPE MOOD STUDY to capture the specific characteristics of the site in terms of the impermanent luminosity of vegetal, mineral and aquatic elements. Observation of variations of appearance according to the seasonal phenomenon of light, the night-day cycle and vegetal transformations allow a wige range of nuances to be developed.
With the majority of the world’s population living in cities; urbanisation, demographics and adaption to climate change are the strategic issues of today. CHROMATIC URBAN LANDSCAPE MOOD STUDIES created for the development of urban spaces and the integration of buildings bring environmental and social revaluation. Working at the scale of town planning and architecture, in collaboration with architects, urban and landscape designers, we contribute to a greater vision in the making and re-making of today’s cites and those of tomorrow.
We work in diverse fields; industrial, housing and infrastructure. We participate in impact studies, composed of diagrams of CHROMATIC ORIENTATIONS and publish advisory brochures. We also collaborate with various building material manufacturers. Light, material and colour are some of the most exciting facets of present and future modern architecture and urban planning.
Géochromie© is the concept that the interdependent relationships between geography, climate, history, culture, socio - economy, take part together in the development of our environment.
To discover and rediscover a land is to interpret its characteristics and feel “a spirit of place” while implying an analysis of the potential of the natural world and its evolution, shaped by the transformations of time and human intervention. Each site emanates a certain presence, a specific resonance revealing different collective memories and visible layers of urban space development.
Biochromie© is the concept of living colour revealed by the energy of light and associated to the fundamental elements of our biosphere: air - light - water - plants - minerals. Biochromie© is the fusion of the chromatic diversity in the creation of the mood of an environment. The interactive energy between light, material and colour varies depending on each context and the vibrations through space, influencing our synaesthetic approach, in turn, connected to the coding of the brain.
The impermanence of the climate transforms the game of appearances, creating dynamic light and reflective shade, sculpting the depth of sites and enlivening the perception of the quality of mood. The aspect of colour appearance is never inert but actively transforming - fleeting moments appearing and disappearing.
Our approach to site analysis is usually based upon an annual cycle observing seasonal variations in the environment related to qualities of the light and evolution of the plant world. This analysis phase includes colour annotations of the existing mineral, vegetable and aquatic sites, presented by line and watercolour sketches, colour charts documents and photographic essays. These observations can enrich material references compatible with the existing environment while remaining aligned to the planning scheme.
The Urban Plan, developed in the context of a multi-disciplinary collaboration identifies the major planning principles. Each space with its own character and identity becomes part of a collective frame or fabric which is the basis of the “Chromatic Orientation Guidelines.”
The “night-day-night-day” rhythm creating alternating and active variations of successive and progressive combinations of colour appearances is also an important part of the working process of creating a concept for the chromatic urban mood boards. The alternating cycle of renewal allow us to move between an ephemeral future and drawn from memories from our past.
FOLLOWING THE LIGHT ALONG RIVER PATHWAYS TO THE GREAT DIVIDING RANGE
Commissioned by AV Jennings, the Lyndarum North Chromatic Harmony Chart and Guidelines, led to the establishment of colour ranges for three neighbourhoods to reinforce the urban design of the masterplanned community: the Mineral Urban Space, Framing the Park and Boardering the Open Space. For each neighourhood, the geographical landscape suggests the dominant chromatic aspects of the textures and materials; they partly reveal the “spirit of the site”. The project plans 2000 homes, two schools, future train station and village commercial centre.
Eight site locations around Lyndarum North were studied, each with their own geography and topography, lighting, mood and historical background. The major steps in producing the Chromatic Guideline were compling an Analysis and Diagnosis of the eight sites. A Synthesis based on the Diagnoses: the architecture, the historical background and the social context.
Lyndarum North is set on the site of an ancient forest of River Red Gums. Each tree has its own character, the home to many birds and animals. Eons ago, volcanic activity created lava flows sculpting the land leaving formations of rises and gullies. Grasslands punctuated by stony rise vantage points are marked with basalt rock. A land rich in loamy soil, siltstone, sandstone and mudstone. The Great Dividing Ranges standing in the background. The urban fabric of the surrounding area is both a response and reflection of the natural environment.
To give focus to the location, the Mineral Urban Space creates a link between the minerality and the architecture of the area from yellow and red ochres to the blue-greens and purple browns of basalt. Rich warm ochres complementing the green-blue neutrals of the mountains and the vegetation and a complex palette of pastels. Volcanic rock; sienna grey and ochre, covered with lichen, bright yellow green, light silver green, brown purple and orange. Soils, ochres, sandstones, basalt.
Framing the Park, a transition half way between earth and water, where vegetation is an important link to be shaped. Many subtle gradations of green blue and grey, punctuated by flashes of colour. The living leaves of the Wurun (River Red Gum) are green yellow, adorned with yellow green seed pods. At the foot of each tree, protected by niches in the root system, leaves change in colour becoming gold, red, pink, orange and warm grey. The trunks of the Wurun appear white, grey or brown red in the distance. Layers of bark peeling off at different rates, revealing white, both warm and cool grey, ochres, red ochres and black. As trees recede in the distance, the yellow green darkens, some tinged with brown red. Then they blur, the yellow green blackens before fading into grey-blue.
Boardering the Open Space leads the eye to follow the sky along a pathway from South Morang to Portland through wetlands, waterways, creeks, rivers and lakes. Shimmering moments and light vibrations engage with space. Light and dynamic effects with pastel and pearly colours build the mood of the Boardering the Open Space neighbourhood.
THE LIGHT OF THE BRISBANE, FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO THE VALLEY
The Urban Chromatic Mood was drawn from sites from the mountain ranges to Fortitude Valley and the Brisbane river. The mountain ranges shift from blue to what seems like a blanket of dark and light silver greens, punctutated by yellow-greens. On closer observation, the bush reveals flashes of highly saturated colours of flowers, eye-catching reds, oranges and yellows. The indigenous palette of earth and stone is reddish brown and blue, as well as ochres.
Fortitude Valley pivots around Centenary Square dominated by the presence of historic stonework, varying from light green and pink to yellow and red ochres. Victorian and Art Deco cottages, in weatherboard and brick, cover the slopes of the valley. The Brunswick neighbourhood is of a mix historic and contemporary, residental and commercial, structural colours dominated by ochres and warm neutrals, decorated with complex chromatic details. Chinatown, marked by an archway in temple red, gold and green, the streetscape, painted in the soft pastels of the Art Deco period.
The Brisbane river runs through the city in a serpentine shape, shifting from yellow-bronze to blue-green bronze and grey-bronze. High rises towers proudly line the river banks, their shimmering reflections dancing on the river surface. The clarity of light intensifies the dark cobalt sky early in the morning, softening to pale blue with scarce silver and white clouds, followed by gentle gold sunsets. The night sky line is illuminated with multitude of coloured lights, redefining the arches of the bridges and the verticality of the towers.
The concept for the tower “100 Wickham” creates a dynamic verticality, bringing it into perspective from the river while transforming the massive and static aspect. An expression of counterpoint and a double ryhthm is created painting the trumeaux in bright andvibrant tones, modulations of five trichromatic families. To change the silhouette of the building, the banner parapet is transformed into a reflector of the ever-changing light, ephemeral and lightweight in appearance.
The body colour on the textured spanel panels is in close harmony with its environment intransition with the bronze glass and the brick of the adjacent hospital, creating a notion of scale proximity between the new and old buildings. The urban vision of the building is that the columns lengthen the building while the coloured grey lightens in appearance towards the banner parapet. In contrast to this warm grey dominant, a refined green of the bush, creates an extension of the vegetation and lifts the strong horizontal mass of ground floor level. The basement podium recalls the local stone anchoring the building to the ground.
THE LIGHT OF THE WAITEMATA, SPARKLING AQUA TO GREY
Hobsonville Point is surrounded by the unique New Zealand vegetation, which borders the inlets of the sparkling Waitemata harbour. It is a place to reflect on the constantly changing colours of the light on the water and native forests. The dense darkness of the vegetation seen from afar is complex in detail, shifting in colour due to degrees of transparency and angles of light. The mangroves form a line along clay stratifications, built up of tones of white to grey, ochre, purple and an arresting midnight blue. The urban landscape is based on a system of relationships between the sea and the coastal edge of the landform of the Point. A framework of avenues, streets, walkways and squares, set up points of view, activities and coherent architectural entities. The different phases of the development of Hobsonville Point have allowed diverse architectural contributions helping to define and strengthen the character of the urban spaces.
The Urban Chromatic Orientation, commissioned by the Hobsonville Land Company, led to the development of material-colour palettes for each urban space at Hobsonville Point: the Coastal Edge, the Historic Corridor and the High Street. The palettes allow parallel developments to overlap and work harmoniously together, while enhancing different colour identities between different zones.
The Coastal Edge responds to the permanent movement of coloured light amplified by the sea and travelling through the bushscape. Within this area there will be two quite physical characters: one open to the exterior and the other with a sense of interiority. These phenomena have been transcribed into a palette of colours light in intensity, both neutral and cool punctuated with flashes of colour found in the flora.
The Historic Corridor responds to the colours of existing historic architecture, enriched by earth and charcoal tones used to paint early meeting houses. The palette for this urban space reflects the history of architectural colour made up of light, mid and dark tones, which are highly polychromatic in nature.
The High Street has been composed with an emphasis on warm and neutral earth tones both light and deep in intensity. The use of strong chromatic colour will animate and strengthen the character of the activity along Hobsonville Point Road, and focus on the importance of colour at the scale of the pedestrian.
Each urban space palette is made up of primary, secondary and occasional colours accompanied by the building blocks of brick, timber, masonry and joinery. The construction of a streetscape is a play of colour, material and textural harmonies. Rhythms of light and dark, matt, shiny and textured, encompassing subtle variations to create vibrations lead the pedestrian along the vista of each street. The chords present the colours in harmonies suggesting a use of colour in a streetscape while the scales present the colour by family. Moving the eye vertically over the chords, associations may be identified for a single dwelling made up of a primary and secondary colour as well as occasional colours for details or doors. The fifth facade, the roof, is like the cloak or canopy of the natural vegetation, which is predominantly dark in tone with flashes of striking bright colours. The change of profile and texture, from matt to shiny will change the play of light and shadow on the roofscape.
THE LIGHT OF THE SEINE, EMERALD FROM UPSTREAM TO DOWNSTREAM
Commissioned by architects, SRA and JL Chassais, the Urban Chromatic Mood was drawn from six sites along the banks of the river Seine in Paris and based on varied urban scales of perspective. Wide panoramic vision with breadth and the presence of the sky as well as the scale of the immediate environment showing articulations between different spaces. Lastly, a residental scale looking at use, circulation and facilities, moods experienced, notions of comfort and appropriation, appreciation of detail.
Sequential bridges connect the banks of the Seine creating rhythms of perspectives. Arches as meeting places, from upstream to downstream, moving through significant historic urban areas each with different characters. The Seine reflects the movement of light with passing time, seasons and moods of the sky. In response to the dominance of the emerald water is the presence of diverse green metal bridges and parallel linear blocks of dark green boxes owned by booksellers. A space of light, the river is present as an opalescent and pearly fluidity. The iridescence of the moving water, emerald and turquoise showing variations from pale to dark deep green.
The sparkling gold and the sheen of the copper patina of the cupolas and roof forms are significant symbols of Paris. The wealth of greens of bronze and copper playing and mingling with gold gilded details on street furniture, street lighting and statues. The dominance of subtle blond coloured limestone, wall coating shades range from white to soft ochre. The rhythmic textures of the brick facades in multiple nuances. Refined satin and gloss decorative ceramics in the architectural details.
Facing the Beaugrenelle bridge is the tower bearing the same name, seated in a landscape of wild plants to encourage birds and bees. The surrounding Charles Michel neighbourhood, shows a dominance of ochre coloured wall coverings, red and brown brick, ceramic details and the soft moss green of the primary school.
The renovation of the Beaugrenelle was initiated for energy and security reasons. The synthesis of the colour study led to the concept of transforming the highrise into a tower of light acting as a dynamic signal, a non-rigid sculpture, striking but delicate in permanent visual transformation with the movement of light and the circulation of the viewer. The pigments within the surface of the metal cladding engender colours to appear and disappear, changing from one hue to another while at moments becoming brighter and more reflective. The apparent primary red turns to gold, copper and brown with the cinetic movement of light. The association of nuances in camaieu responds to the orientation of the tower related to the movement of light, the river and the surrounding environment. The tower’s vertical dynamicis accentuated by fine lines of coloured metal cladding interlaced with silver bands which vary in texture and aspect. The tower is in constant flux, emerging and vibrating.