Architecture, design

8 colourful buildings around the world

Forget the neutral tones of minimalist architecture – we're looking towards punchy, multihued buildings to inject some vibrancy into the dreary winter months ahead. We'd be lying if we said we weren't tempted to turn our own homes into technicolour dreams, much like Mexican architect Luis Barragán's candy-coloured facades.


colourful buildings Image credit: Arch Daily

Designed as an ode to Panama's biodiversity, the Biomuseo by renowned architect Frank Gehry sits on a sprawling nature reserve at the mouth of the Panama Canal. The building incorporates tilted tin roofs stereotypical of the country, while concrete trees inside merge into sculptural canopies. The colour – the most outstanding part – is reminiscent of Panama's own tropical palette and it stands out amidst the landscape.

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

colourful buildings Image credit: Arch Daily

The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, designed by Willem Jan Neutelings and Michiel Riedijk, is wrapped in a skin of colourful cast-glass panels and is home to the national broadcasting archives in Hilversum. Akin to a watercolour painting, the bold structure was designed as a perfect cube (the other half of it, in grey slate, is underground), and is a beacon in this centre of the Dutch television industry.

CMY Pavilion

colourful buildings Image credit: Arch Daily

The CMY Pavilion, also in the Netherlands, was originally built as a video pavilion in 1990 by architect Bernard Tschumi and has been infused with new life by Rotterdam-based design office Shift Architecture Urbanism. By applying translucent films in cyan, magenta and yellow, with the diagonal bands overlapping and creating secondary shades, the firm has created a rainbow-like architectural folly that perches on sloping concrete.

International Management Institute

colourful buildings Image credit: Arch Daily

Abin Design Studio conceived the International Management Institute in Kolkata, India, in 2010. Its polychrome design by was inspired by youth and nature, and the structure was deliberately built to appear wild and chaotic to the eye, referencing the unpredictable nature of the sky and the vibrancy of today's youth.

Carabanchel building

colourful buildings Image credit: Trendland

Appearing as a giant stack of Lego blocks in 16 colours, the massive Carabanchel affordable housing block by Rafael Cañizares Torquemada and Eduardo Valdillo Ruiz stands out brilliantly against Madrid's predominantly white and brown cityscape.

The Saguaro hotel

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In Palm Springs, California, the Saguaro hotel was built to honour the vibrant spirit of the US Southwest. Its pastel hues reflect the indigenous flowers of the desert, creating a candy-hued resort that looks like something straight out of Barbie’s pool party.

Barbie store

colourful buildings Image credit: Arch Daily

Talking about Barbie, Mattel's flagship store for the famous doll brand in Shanghai, China, was a vision in pink – and boldly unapologetic in its sickly-sweetness – for a time. Unfortunately the mega store shut its doors in 2011, but we thought it worthwhile to pay tribute to its pink sparkliness.

the Nautilus House

colourful buildings Image credit: Design Dautore

The whimsical Nautilus House near Mexico City is a study in artistic freedom by Mexican Javier Senosiain of Arquitectura Organica. The unique, shell-shaped abode pairs organic forms with modern Gaudi-esque 'bioarchitecture' in its structure, and features a striking entrance in an ovoid wall of colourful stained glass.