Presentation (engliash)

University of Strasbourg – Council of Europe
International Symposium

Colour in the arrangement of health areas
Thursday 7 and Friday 8 April 2016
Palace of Europe – Strasbourg

The humanization of health areas as well as medical stuctures is a new trend in contemporary western society. In hospitals, retirement and nursing homes, medical educational institutes, private medical practises, healthcare facilities, pharmacies, balneotherapy centres, operations are carried out which take into account the physical and psychological comfort of staff, patients and their relatives.

It is against this background that colour, be it neutral or expressive, applied monochromatically or in multicoloured patterns, seems to play a major role. It swiftly decorates the walls, floors and ceilings of waiting rooms, wards, halls and operating rooms, thanks to paint or self-coloured coatings. It sometimes consists in artists’ paintings, or simply appears in items of furniture, everyday objects and plants and is an essential part in the signage of premises. And in spa houses, stone, wood and ceramics enhanced by sophisticated lighting are improving the image of nature and purity.

Therefore, with the shared conviction that spaces rich in colour, in graphic inventiveness and appropriate displays contribute to the well-being of all, we shall dicuss the place and role of colour in the arrangement of health areas.

However, colour is highly elusive. It is not easy to define and transmit; it is felt differently according to individuals, places, climatic conditions and mood. It affects emotion so strongly that some fully transform their house and wardrobe for a fetish colour. Conversely, it is likely to cause irritation and revulsion. Moreover, according to many sources inspired by the theories of Goethe, colour could help treat certain nervous and mental diseases and may have an effect on the entire human body.

But colour becomes a source of confusion when the realms of subjectivity and rationality blend: art, symbolism, technology, physics and chemistry, medicine and the numerous wellness therapies. The fusion of the various areas of application often turns out to be fertile and inventive, but it can also become ambiguous, in particular when simplistic clichés and mercantile interests take over.

14 September 2015
Denis Steinmetz