Colour, enlivened

The winners of the 2023 Dulux Colour Awards were announced in Melbourne in May. Chosen from 113 finalists across Australia and New Zealand, this year’s winning projects span scale and typology, with three local projects taking out top awards for their insightful and sophisticated use of colour. 

The judges acknowledged the people at the heart of each project – those creating them and those inhabiting them. “Colour is universal but it means different things to different people,” says Dulux colour specialist Davina Harper. “This year’s suite of award winners epitomises the capacity for colour to transform spaces and elicit emotion in everybody.

“The level of ambition in each brief and the sophistication in the palettes designed to realise those architectural aims increases every year. From a tiny apartment to a multi-storey community hub or a modest storage shed to a heritage theatre, the originality and brave employment of colour is outstanding,” Davina says.

The New Zealand Grand Prix winner was Shand Shelton, for the St James Theatre restoration in Wellington, while Nightlight, a modest bach in Banks Peninsula won the Residential Exterior category. Augustina Binyamin of Victoria University took out the top award in the Student category.

Nightlight by Fabric

Key Colour: Dulux Mist Green

Judges’ Citation

“A kernel of delight set into the landscape of the Banks Peninsula in New Zealand, this modest structure demonstrates the way a subtle incorporation of colour, applied with constraint, can have a powerful effect. In spite of its utility as a services and storage shed, the polycarbonate structure enveloped in timber lattice has been elevated to become a sophisticated light sculpture with timeless relevance, well integrated into the landscape. Undoubtedly, it asks a lot from one colour, which gives us more reason to commend the choice of Mist Green, as it sits so comfortably with the structural timbers and myriad greens of the surrounding bush. The result is calm and sincere, striking an organic balance between form and function.”

St James Theatre by Shand Shelton

Key Colours: Dulux Rosewood, Dulux Waiau Bay Half, and Dulux Vintage Gold 

Judges’ Citation

The revitalisation of the St James Theatre in Wellington is a celebration of craftsmanship and a gift to the community. As the city’s premier lyric theatre for more than 100 years, the significance of the undertaking was potentially daunting and there were undoubtedly ‘safer’ strategies, but the architects have embraced the challenge, specifying a complex palette, inspired by early drawings of the heritage-listed building. Prioritising an investment in artisans to execute the intricate colour scheme has paid off, for this attention to detail has achieved optimal authenticity and light balance for theatre conditions. These artistic effects enhance the intricate plasterwork within the auditorium, while blushes of rich colours and metallics strategically accentuate the proscenium-arch and stage. By contrast, the foyer spaces adopt a neutral colour scheme to emphasise the building’s materiality, with feature colours reserved for focal points. It is an impressive display of colour conceptualisation and workmanship.

The Canopy Bench by Augustina Binyamin

Key Colour: Dulux Hog Bristle in Duramax

Judges’ Citation

Although inspired by the forest, a literal colour for the Canopy Bench was eschewed in favour of the clarity of Hog Bristle®. This design decision allows the purity of the bench’s form to speak for itself and its singularity is so effective that it sparked rigorous discussion about the role and use of colour in design, ultimately proving that it doesn’t have to be a bright colour to stand out. This in itself shows a maturity and conviction that belies the fact that its creator is a student. Notably, the bench’s clear form is so architectural that without a scale reference it could be interpreted as a built element of much greater scope, such as a canopy atop a building. We congratulate the designer for this exquisite concept and resolution.

Latest video features

In the Coromandel, a home with a humble profile and a thoughtful design makes the most of a stunning location.

Built with awe-inspiring attention to detail, this Arrowtown home is a fresh interpretation of a familiar Otago rural vernacular.

This sculptural Northland bach is a perfect north arrow on a remote farm high above the sea.

With the sun on its bow and the community at its stern, this is a house in which the elements are always front of mind.

Trending articles

Design News

Impactful design

The 2024 Readers’ Choice Home of the Year, Sumner House by RTA Studio, is a place of striking proportions and captivating creativity: a powerful response


Open space

Perched atop an escarpment overlooking Whangārei’s town basin, this home is the embodiment of the owners’ vision, the architects’ knowledge, and the builder’s expertise.

Design News

Tangibility and presence

Nine years ago Scott Thorp moved to Christchurch to be closer to the mountains. It was here that he felt most connected to the land,