FLOORING COLOURS through AGES

Post 698 –by Gautam Shah

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Stone-Paved Street at Dougga

For built environment Flooring Colour, is the most important element of experience. It primarily determines the level of brightness in a room, but has many other subtle affectations.

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The experience of colour, relates to both, Visual and Tactile aspects. The visual component consists of colour, texture and patterns. The tactile component has two relates, the actual feel and the visual recognition.

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The Colours of the Floorings emerge from> the extent, gradient and contours (steps, edges, drops, slopes) of the flooring, angle and tinge (stained or grisaille glass) of illumination and texture (gloss-dull), the expanse and colour of the joints.

Colour and black-and-white

The Patterns in the Floorings derive from> set motifs (images, patterns), recognizable geometry, grain-veins in the floor materials and the composition of joints.

Dark coloured floors cut off bottom-up reflection of radiation, and so are ideal in open-to-sky spaces like Chowks, on window sills, and spaces in front of doors, verandahs. Dark floors, however absorb more radiant heat due to the low reflectivity and get very warm. Dark floors are not preferred in walkways, balconies or on terraces (in tropical climates). A dark floor in water pool heightens the feeling of depth, but can increase the rate of water evaporation due to greater absorption of heat radiation. Very dark and shiny floors show off dust and require frequent cleaning. Dark coloured sills increase the radiant heat inside the rooms. Dark sills in cellars (low illumination areas) reduce the level of reflected component of natural light.

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Light-coloured floors substantially reduce the heat absorption, provided these are maintained clean. Light-coloured floors provide lightness and enhance the space size. White floors have a natural association with aseptic conditions, so are preferred in food preparation zones, health facilities and in sanctimonious areas (temples).

Akshardham Temple New Delhi India

Coloured floors are used for livening up monotonous or drab spaces (very large halls like departmental stores, plazas, courtyards). Coloured floors are used in industrial plants, schools, hospitals etc. to indicate routes and movement areas for goods, vehicles and people.

Salle des Hôtes - Mont St Michel

Historically Flooring colour has been monochrome where good building stones were available. Earliest colouring elements were the mosaics of marble, ceramic and glass. Flooring colours have been exploited in sparsely occupied sections of the building such as corridors, passages, plazas, etc.

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West Asiatic architecture had monochrome flooring of building stone and in some cases of terracotta units. Greeks used only white marbles, but used mosaics to create images on the floors.

Romans began to use colourful marbles as inlay pieces to create borders and central patterns. Thermaes (bathhouses) were perhaps the most garish of all places in terms of flooring colour schemes.

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Byzantine period saw reuse of Roman marble debris. Cut pieces of coloured marbles of Roman columns were used for flooring bands. Contrast and pattern definition was their only intention, rather than a balanced colour scheme.

In Gothic architecture, the colour through the stained glass window was so strong that flooring colour was almost subordinated. The quality of laying and finishing were very refined. Granites were used sparingly, only as part of patterns. Wherever high colour effect was, required floors were covered with carpets, rugs and floor spreads.

English mediaeval period saw the use alternatively placed light and dark shades (black-white) of flooring materials to form diagonal checker board flooring.

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Post Gothic period windows’ glass became light hued, interiors were much more illuminated, interior elements were painted and often gilded. These required a highly polished (glossy- dazzling surface) and a balanced colour scheme.

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Renaissance saw painters and sculptors becoming builders and architects, who were very adapt in use of colour. Marbles were selected in terms of the interior colour scheme. Veins or grain patterns of Marbles and other stones were exploited by selection of the cut section, and their orientation to accentuate the patterns.

Versailles Flooring of Mixed stone colours but well planned pattern

French Versailles had marble and stone floors, but required on one hand frequent scrubbing and polishing and replacement due to the moisture from under-floors. Wood was preferred as a floor finish. Wood was a local flooring material for many years. 15th C onward Europe had supplies of exotic woods of Asiatic origin, later from African and American locations (North and Latin). Rare woods, were appreciated for their wonderful colours, grains and hardness but used conservatively. The woods were veneered thin sections and backed with boards of low-cost local woods, to form a surfacing material.

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Blog Links on FLOORS and FLOORINGS

Post 626 –by Gautam Shah

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These are few links on Blog articles relating to Floors, Floorings, Patterns, Colours, Joints, and Finishes

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Floorings, by virtue of their sheer extent are the most effective components of interior space definition. Floorings are important for visual and tactual appeal. Floorings are visually perceptible because the common sources of natural and other illuminations are from the top. Tactile appeal emerges when visual details of the floorings are not registered….’

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FLOORINGS (March 2016) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2016/03/01/floorings/

FLOORING SYSTEMS (June 2015) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2015/06/18/flooring-systems/

FLOOR PAINTS (March 2015) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/floor-paints/

FLOOR SPREADS -TYPES, SIZES and SHAPES (Dec 2014) > https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2014/12/23/floor-spreads-types-sizes-and-shapes/

ROOFS and FLOORS (July 2014) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2014/07/17/roofs-and-floors/

FLOORING COLOUR (June 2014) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/flooring-colour/

PATTERNS in FLOORINGS (June 2014) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/patterns-in-floorings/

JOINTS in SURFACE FINISHES (July 2015) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2015/07/09/joints-in-surface-finishes/

GLOSS (Sept 2014) >

https://interiordesignassist.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/gloss/

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PATTERNS in FLOORINGS

Cosmatesque, or Cosmati, a style of geometric decorative inlay stonework typical of Medieval Italy, Rome and surroundings

Colour of the flooring has been a key space defining element. The choice of colour for floorings was once limited to natural colours of the materials that were used. The natural colours of clays, stones, woods, terracottas, ceramics, etc., were further enhanced by the inherent patterns of the materials. The colour scheme was also supplemented by embellishments made of metals, precious stones and glass. The interior floor colours were enhanced by paintings, lighting, rugs, and furnishings. The colour, geometry and bearing of the joints add both the colour and pattern.

 

Tactile floor for railway platform edge

 

Patterns in the flooring result from the sizes of materials, geometry of laying, natural colours, grains, textures and constitutional anomalies. Patterns are used as space scaling elements. In large plazas flooring patterns have been used to coordinate, connect and align the surrounding architectural entities of varied sizes, shapes and styles into a cohesive spatial entity. Flooring patterns have also been used to add proportioning elements to a space, create visual linkages between spatial entities, segregate functional modules, mark areas for specific purposes, impose a logical order in a trivial setting, and break the regimen by adding a little frivolity.

 

Non secular Greek buildings had mosaic floors, with few peripheral bands, but with a large topical central pattern in geometric design or pictorial patterns. For mosaic marble, ceramics, and glass were used. Greeks used white marbles cut to fit the bays of classical column order. Later bands touching the walls were added.

 

Romans used a variety of patterns like: opus spicatum (herring bone), opus sectile (geometric or pictorial), opus quadratum (rectangular blocks), opus incertum (polygonal-crazy), opus reticulum (diagonal effect) and opus mixtum (mix of two materials). Romans used coloured marbles to create inlay patterns. Thermae (bath houses) had perhaps the most garish floorings.

 

Ostia antica

Romanesque period saw borders of stamped block pattern using same design form repeatedly which later occurred as an interlaced band through meandering or fretting.

 

Byzantine buildings used bands in walls like in floors. The bands on the walls, flowing over piers, in-fill walls, arches etc. gave an organic feel of continuity, However, the bands on the floor were in basic shapes like square, circle, rectangular. The floor band pattern did not follow the internal architectural configuration at floor level, creating an austere interior.

 

Gothic floorings began to move out of the dominance of structural form of the space. Perpendicular space or the verticality was managed by allowing the basic floor pattern to expand into pier widths, side aisles, passages, window offsets, etc. Floors were though heavily occupied by furniture and other demountable structures. Many floor sections were covered with rich embroidered fabrics, rugs etc.

 

Renaissance buildings were planned by painters and sculptors. Flooring patterns was now a rich visual entity. The flooring patterns instead of being confined within the structural or architectural definitions reverted to strong centralized-theme. However, for the centralized theme figurative or pictorial forms were now not used. Centrality was achieved due to the character of divergence and convergence in the pattern. The space between the central pattern and abutting architectural element was executed in monochrome treatment, enhancing the medallion effect.

 

 

Palazzo del Senators, Capitol, Rome, designed by Michelangelo is an oval shaped design with bands defining the pattern character. The floor pattern creates a harmonic visual relationship between buildings of different characters, sizes and functions.

 

 

Grand Trianon, Fontainebleau and Galerie des Versailles, have chequered flooring to implicate a scale in a long space. Dual coloured diagonal chequered patterns have been extensively used in Mediaeval and Renaissance buildings. The chequered patterns have been often bounded by bands. Straight and diagonal chequered floors with corner inlay stones have also been popular as in-filling in pattern. Such floor configurations require multiple bands to define and limit the pattern extent.

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