The Influence Of Pop Art And Pop Colours In Architecture

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‘Architecture that is popular with people is usually termed as pop architecture’ (‘Encyclopedia. Com, 2019’). Pop art as a movement started in the 1950’s post World War II and took nearly twenty years to become a part of mainstream architecture . This essay intends to talk about buildings that fall under the category of pop architecture and are acknowledged by the public. ‘Pop architecture is a style which refers to structures that symbolically represent objects, to fantastic designs for vast sculptures on an architectural scale, or to any architecture produced more as a metaphor than a building (‘Farlex, 2020’)’. Even though the final product is not meant to be functional it is well acknowledged and entertained by the public.

Pop colours have a huge influence on pop architecture. ‘Pop art – instantly recognisable, irreverent, never muted and rarely tasteful ­– was the overriding design and artistic trend of the late 1950s and 1960s’ (‘Arkitexture, 2020’). It is usually seen that the use of pop colours attracts more teenagers and the younger generation. Architects usually create buildings and other large structures keeping in mind their target audience and the utility of space. For example, if someone is making a school then their target audience is students, faculty and visitors and the school is used for teaching purposes; if someone is constructing a museum then their target audience is the workers and the visitors and the space is used for exhibitions. Some buildings to be discussed further in this essay are: the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision, the Happy Rizzi house and the Kuggen Building.

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Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision

More well known as The Institute of Media Culture, it is an inspiring, creative and accessible meeting place for private individuals and professionals. There is a very clear influence of pop architecture in its design. The building is located in Hilversum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.’ The Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision is divided into three different parts: the national archives, TV and Radio exhibition and the Institute offices’ (‘Anon, 2020’). Just like TV and Radio, this building is a means to create and influence pop culture in the city.

The visible images on this building were the stand-by images from the film and TV archives which were stored inside the building and then eventually copied and attached to the glass that creates an illusion of moving scenes. The idea of images on glass at that time was really new and innovative and it did not take much time to be included in the pop architecture list. The building is amongst one of the most interesting pop architecture landmarks of Dutch. ‘The content of the building – literally – was used to decorate the outside. The images have been frame grabbed from videotapes and all put together to create this masterpiece (‘Archello, 2020′)’. ‘Architecture went pop! because it entered the vein of pop art, and architecture went pop! because it’s autonomy bubble definitely burst out (‘Jeanibaker, 2015′)’. The cascade of the stepped museum floors are cladded in metal plates which register as a wall sculpture that shapes the internal space of the building. From the entrance, the visitors are guided through a bridge that goes over a deep canyon that dramatically shows the scale and size of the archives vault.

The Institute for Sound and Vision collects, looks after, and provides access to over 70% of the Dutch audio-visual heritage. Pop architecture was the best way to make heritage appealing to the young generation. The building is also liked a lot for its interior. The colourful glass panels when seen from inside look more beautiful. The ceiling and walls of some rooms are carved in steel plate with a blue coloured wall behind it. The room brightens up when lighted as the steel plates reflect light. Colours like orange, lemon yellow, electric blue and green (pop colour palette) increase the beauty of the building.

Happy Rizzi house

The happiest house on earth as many say is the Happy Rizzi House (Rizzihaus) in Brunswick which is a Day-Glo masterpiece of cartoon-inspired pop architecture set smack in the heart of a staid German historic neighbourhood’ (‘Anonymous, 2020’). The house looks happy due the cartoon faces drawn on it. Cartoons bring nostalgia to many but the use of pop colours enhance the beauty of the building and creates a sense of excitement.

This house was designed by a Newyork pop artist James Rizzi. ‘No wonder Rizzi was often described as Picasso meets Hanna-Barbera – it is an art that can be taken quite seriously while being deliriously absurd at the same time’ (‘yong, 2012’). The house was placed at a very odd place, between the business district and the old world European architecture street. ‘Unfortunately Rizzi passed away in 2011, but the Happy Rizzi House, was easily his largest piece of work, assures that his off the wall vision of the world will live on for years to come (‘Anonymous, 2020′)’.

‘This building attracted a largely young crowd of people whereas the old denied acknowledging its beauty at the first’ (‘Atlas Obscura, 2020’). This happened because the building was very colourful and it had a quirky cartoon pattern on its exterior walls. But, today it is a standout trademark for Brunswick. ‘Even though the building does not conform to the usual standards, it’s ecologic, trees have been planted wherever it was possible and the parking lot is filled with bicycles. The area where the building is placed in a quiet one though” (Anonymous). The building has a beautiful exterior wall decoration and a unique architecture style. It is unique because it is designed in a contemporary/modern way and painted in collaboration with eye-popping pop art paintings. The building started taking its form in 1997 and took two years to complete. ‘The building consists of nine related part structures, decorated in bright colours. The Rizzi House forms the northern edge of the spatial arable farm, which was vacant since the end of World War II”(‘Russ, 2017’).

The colorful building though made for an office was just more than that. It attracted many number of people due to its pop colour and cartoon design. In 2011 the entire facade was renovated and extended. More than 2000 sq. m. of decorated surfaces added a unique character to the designed building. ‘Unusual colourful decorations and playful cartoon images gave amazing character to the building turning it into a huge work of pop art. The house looks happy and it makes people smile, evoking positive emotions and pleasant childhood memories(‘Russ, 2017′)’.

The Kuggen Building

This cylindrical building in the middle of the town square of Gothenburg, Sweden is a piece of wonder. The radius of the cylinder increases as it goes up and occupies less space on the ground. ‘The form offers a lot of floor space in relation to the amount of exposed exterior wall surface, and the upper floors project out over the lower—more on the south side than on the north so that the building partially shades itself when the sun is high in the sky” (‘Archdaily, 2012’ ). The building contains a revolving multi colour shield which provides shade to particular parts of the building at certain times of the day. ‘The building is connected to its context through two pedestrian walkways on its first floor, reaching into the Jupiter Building adjacent to it(‘Archdaily, 2012′)’.

‘The triangular windows of the building allow the light to enter the building by the ceiling, from where it can reach deep into the core of the building(‘Archdaily, 2012′)’. The building was designed to be an office space but then it was turned into a library and it also serves as the home for several research groups based at the Lindholmen University. Kuggen is owned by real estate company Chalmersfastigheter for the Chalmers University of Technology. The cylindrical building is offset in a way that gives longer shadow on the southern side.

Looking at the building from afar, its item and colour are not immediately revealed. The round building looks different from every direction because of its rotating screen. It’s rotating screen shades the top floors, following the sun’s path around the building. These details change the building’s character from one side to another, and over the course of the day. The adaptive ventilation, adaptive lighting, interactive heating and cooling systems and effective daylight are some awestrucking features of this building. Pop does not always mean through its look but a true building also serves its purpose well. “The building’ glazed terracotta panels take on different appearances depending on our viewing angle and the changing daylight conditions. Kuggen strives to be an extremely energy-efficient office building” (‘Wicona, 2011’).


The way pop architecture falls under form follows function is a surprise to many, but yes a pop art-inspired building is also capable of serving its purpose. Even though a lot of times pop architecture and pop colours go hand in hand but it is a lot more than that. The eye popping colours never create an obstacle to its productivity. The building still remains equally useful and equally important. Many times a lot of people feel that use of eye popping colours is childish and useless. But the way pop colours in pop architecture influenced the young generation is amazing. Many pop architecture buildings received a mild response from the elders but an outstanding response from the youngsters and the teenagers, for example in our case Happy Rizzi House. When talking about Happy Rizzi house, the most exciting thing is it’s pop exterior rather than it’s interior. Nowadays Pop architecture is also termed as influential architecture by many. ‘Architecture and pop culture relate and intertwine in many ways. In future years, as both architecture and pop culture change, so will the ways they connect and relate. People will see architecture differently, and once again architecture and pop culture will evolve’ (‘ Jack, 2015 ‘).


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