Colours of buildings: The society’s identity

Oman is one of the few countries that is still tightly linked to its traditional identity and does not compromise cherished traditions and social values. This is reflected on the architectural façade of many different buildings and houses which features the unique Omani touch that is not far from modern architectural trends.
The mixture between the ancient and contemporary styles created more beauty all under the eyes of Muscat Municipality which is keen to establish common architectural imprints for buildings as an added identity to the cities’ landmarks, keeping in line with the country’s hot climate conditions.
Structural formations and designs of the buildings are regulated but so are the colours that are used.
White and its grades are the only colours that do not require Municipality approval, otherwise, contractors and buildings owners have to obtain certain accreditations in case they wished to use different paint colours or ornamental stones.
Recently, other neutral colours were excluded from the MM permission. These colours are gray, beige and bright brown which were allowed to be used in internal blocks and streets.
“I think it is a good move to protect the general imprint of the city and at the same time preserve a unified identity for the society,” Salim al Amri, a contractor, said.
On the other hand, engineers believe that the colours used go beyond the traditional concept of decoration, it is an essential element expressing meaning and inspiration to observers.
“It is a part of our life whose dimensions are weaved by architects and Interior decoration designers. If we look through the world around us, we would find a fully-coloured surrounding of a constant renovating nature as it is directly and strongly related to forms of social, economic and intellectual lives of people,” said Elham al Hilali, an architect.
Also, studies have proved that colours have a psychological impact on minds of viewers as it relates to two main categories: warm and cool. Warm colours, such as red, yellow and orange, can spark a variety of emotions ranging from comfort and warmth to hostility and anger. Cool colours, such as green, blue and purple, often spark feelings of calmness as well as sadness.
However, many buildings these days in urban settings use various colours on building fronts and even inside commercial districts, leading to a visual pollution that affects modern architecture.
Al Hilali commented “this may create new visual features as a part of acquired culture due to different circumstances the community lived through in some times.”
As the façade of the building reflects its values, it also connects its internal and external spaces providing a diverse visual experience. For that, colour combinations in the Sultanate must be paid high consideration and close care to details is required as this directly affects the way Oman is viewed.

Zainab al Nassri