Bringing together the Schools of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Art and History of Art, this multi-disciplinary scoping study explores colour teaching across the University of Edinburgh and other UK institutions.



The teaching and discussion of colour within practice-based disciplines in architecture, art and design has declined across Europe and internationally since the 1970s, although there is evidence of a resurgence of interest in colour in high profile exhibitions, publications and through historical research in pigments and conservation.

The University of Edinburgh has the potential to build capacity for further research and teaching in colour, particularly since the merger with Edinburgh College of Art (ECA), by tapping into existing expertise that is presently active and productive but disconnected and unfocussed.

Funded by the CAHSS Challenge Investment Fund, this project aims to develop synergies and areas of expertise within ECA, the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Science (CAHSS) and across the University.

As a topic, colour is naturally multi-disciplinary and there are likely to be elements of sporadic, unrelated research and teaching in Psychology, Linguistics, Philosophy, Literature, Chemistry, Biology, Geology, Anthropology, Archaeology and Physics as well as within creative disciplines in ECA.

Project aims

The objectives of this scoping study are:

  • To identify areas of existing expertise in relation to colour across the University.
  • To establish new collaborations and networks.
  • To build capacity for future research and teaching.
  • To establish demand for a cross-disciplinary undergraduate pre-honours option course in colour.

A second, external strand of the project will identify areas of existing expertise in relation to colour teaching and research across selected Art, History of Art and Architecture institutions in the UK.


    The Principal Investigators for the Colour Collection project are Professor Fiona McLachlan (Professor of Architectural Practice), Gordon Brennan, (Director of Undergraduate Studies, School of Art), and Dr Heather Pulliam (Senior Lecturer, History of Art). They bring expertise and enthusiasm from their own fields, as well as routes into international research networks that could be pooled for a future European grant application.

    The first stage of the research is to capture information across the University of Edinburgh. Some colleagues are likely to have an implicit interest in colour, but the aim of this project is to make these explicit in order to develop collaborations within ECA.

    If you are involved in teaching or research, which has a direct relationship to colour, the investigators would very much like to hear from you. Their email addresses are in the 'Related People' section below.

    Please respond giving your name, school and subject area / institute, a brief description of your area of expertise in research or teaching and your contact details.

    Would you like to undertake research-led study at ECA?

    We also offer a range of research-led postgraduate programmes. Find out more.

    Related people