When we think of modern residential buildings, we usually picture the sleek glass towers with grey or whitish balconies that seem to be sprouting up in cities every week, homogenizing urban centers worldwide. This is seemingly right in line with our obsession with minimalist design in recent years, which for many, suggests that fewer colors and greater simplicity lead to inherently more elegant results. But it’s also a style that has grown so popular that new condo and apartment projects are becoming increasingly redundant. What once served as the distinctive marker of newness is gradually becoming the status quo itself.
This is certainly not the case for these residential projects. By pushing against this minimalist palette aesthetic, these buildings prove that it’s possible to use bold, vibrant colors and creative textures without labels of tackiness or tastelessness. The six projects below demonstrate what it takes to truly stand out from a crowd.
By Sanjay Puri Architects, Kodla, India
Popular Choice Winner, 10th Annual A+Awards, Architecture +Color
This new residential building in Kodla, India is a masterful vernacular take on cubist architecture thanks to an ingenious play on depth and color. The firm in charge of the project, Sanjay Puri Architects, used vivid coatings of red, blue and yellow to cleverly accentuate the cantilevered balconies of tan, fly ash brick that protrude in whimsical fashion over most of the façades. This colorful and sculptural aesthetic draws from traditional Indian crafts, festivities and clothing, making the building’s architecture feel organic to the region’s culture.
By MHN Design Union, Sydney, Australia
Thanks to a vivid color palette and uniquely angled cantilevered windows this new residential building in Sydney is a guaranteed head-turner. The design takes direct inspiration from the colorful and kinetic paintings of Yaacov Agam — the fervent repetition of vertical lines broken by splashes of yellow and red is but one of many nods to the legendary artist. The overall result feels less like a conventional apartment complex than a work of public art.
By Wingårdh Arkitektkontor AB, Örnsköldsvik, Sweden
Since 1967, this site in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden has been occupied by the city’s courthouse — a pristine yet understated example of Swedish brutalism — which had unfortunately seen better days. Luckily, this new residential tower on the site brings the old courthouse back to life, making it the sturdy new base for the structure. The muted grey tones of the concrete courthouse now make for a refreshing contrast with the vibrant and glazed ceramic tiles that wrap the new structure.
The color scheme is inspired by Swedish artist Bengt Lindström and vividly stands out in the cityscape, yet sensibly echoes the deep greens and bright yellows of the boreal landscapes surrounding the city. Meanwhile, the disheveled arrangement of cantilevered windows provide exciting texture to the façade. From afar, it makes the building look like a brightly colored pinecone.
By OFIS architects, Livade, Slovenia
True to its name, the new Honeycomb Apartments in Livade, Slovenia use hexagons as a central architectural motif, allowing for balcony modules that efficiently shade and ventilate the affordable apartment units. But beyond the clever functionality of the design, the protruding semi-hexagons offer ample space to experiment with a varied color palette. Brightly painted opaque and semi-transparent panels are mixed and matched across the modules — a clear statement that this is not your typical beehive.
By XTU architects, Nanterre, France
This apartment complex in Nanterre, France draws inspiration from the colorful Modernist palette of French architect André Wogenscky. The collection of five oddly shaped volumes are brought together stylistically by horizontal panel with pixelated cutouts that provide privacy and a sense of effervescence to the façades. These patterns are interrupted by large bright yellow L-shaped incisions. Akin to Tetris blocks, these forms offer playful splashes of contrast and color.
By Atelier du Pont, Saint-Ouen, France
Situated in a former industrial area-turned-eco-district in the Parisian suburb of Saint-Ouen, this new apartment complex draws from the area’s 20th century concrete industrial architecture to create a sense of power and grandiosity. Thankfully, the bright orange metal balconies add a unique touch of color to the white and grey stucco façades, hence softening the building’s imposing presence.