Wayfinding With Color

Color’s prominent role in wayfinding has become a focus in architecture.  Humans use color as a primary means of sorting and grouping objects: think about the uniforms of sports teams or the coloration of prescription medicine pills. Parking garages, for example, often code their floors by color, sometimes painting the uniquely colored floor number in a size three or four feet tall. Large, flat parking lots are often divided into sections that may be labeled by a number or a symbol—for example, zoos frequently use animals—but it is usually printed in a unique color. Color association is strong and memorable for regular occupants and occasional visitors alike. 

In hospitals, color décor or signage are employed to help visitors locate their destinations. Sometimes they pair signs with colored lines painted on the corridor floors or walls, turning the floor itself into a giant map. A study conducted by Cromwell Architects Engineers and the University of Minnesota, published in 2012, found that color helped 72% of respondents to find remote locations in a pediatric clinic. Colored walls or floors were slightly more effective than color signage, and 58% correctly remembered a corridor color. When they were given verbal instructions that included the color, 69% remembered the correct color corridor.

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