Colour in Enclosed Space Observation of Colour Phenomena and Development of Methods for Identification of Colour Appearance in Rooms
Doctoral thesis, 1999

The main problems dealt with in this thesis are (1) how colours can appear in rooms due to various colour combinations and lighting conditions, and (2) how we can identify and compare colour appearance in rooms. One aim is to demonstrate and discuss the complex problem of how certain conditions in a room affect colour appearance, and to give examples and describe the co-operation between some of the affecting factors in experimental rooms. Another aim is to develop and evaluate methods for studying colours in rooms, methods that give us reliable visual identifications of perceived colour and allow comparisons between different rooms. Through an architectural perspective, tailored methods and specially developed concepts, the thesis presents a way to conceptualise and treat the complex subject of colour in enclosed spaces. The thesis work includes a literature survey and empirical studies. Most of the latter were made in experimental rooms in full and small scale, which were based on studies of actual interiors and preliminary model room studies. The literature survey mapped out the knowledge field, and the empirical studies worked out methods, tools and concepts for the study of colour appearance in rooms. Preliminary attempts are made to describe the elasticity in colour appearance of certain inherent colours under varying conditions in rooms. The phenomenon of reflections has been systematically studied, and discussed in relation to simultaneous contrast. The developed concepts of identity colour and colour variations have proved to be helpful tools for analysing colour appearance. The Visual Evaluation method of Liljefors and Ejhed was adjusted to involve visual assessments of the perceived colours. The colour reference box developed during the project is taken to solve a serious methodological problem, especially for comparisons between equally painted, but differently illuminated, rooms. The difficult problem of the adaptation effect was specially dealt with - that is, the colour sample in the colour reference box is perceived differently as the observer adapts to various lighting conditions. While complementary studies are needed, it was concluded that the adaptation effect for the hue is possible to map out and control.

identity colour

simultaneous contrast




visual assessments


adaptation effects

full-scale studies

colour appearance


Monica Billger

Department of Architecture

Subject Categories

Building Technologies



Doktorsavhandlingar vid Chalmers tekniska högskola. Ny serie: 1518

Thesis from the Department of Total Quality Management: 1999:1

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