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Historical Polychromy, Familiarity and Perception of Chromatic Identity in Urban Settings

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  • Chromatic Identity
  • Familiarity
  • Historical Polychromy
  • Urban Settings
  • Earth Science
  • Linguistics


This paper focuses on polychromy of buildings in a historical context. It analyses the coloring of Brazilian urban heritage based on the study of historical districts in four cities located in the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil. The aim is to reveal the coloring characteristics of different historical periods, determine the chromatic typologies of the corresponding building styles and verify the relationship between familiarities of urban environment with certain type of historical built heritage and historical chromatic typology according to its actual perception and evaluation by citizens. The investigation consisted of two consecutive steps. First, the chromatic study was performed through the evaluation of three groups of buildings with styles representing three overlapped historical periods: colonial, eclectic and pre-modern periods. The individual building data for each architectural style were collected by complementary techniques such as, stratigraphic prospects of buildings, survey of historical records and descriptions, analysis of images and study of projects with colored façades kept in historical archives. Second, 280 questionnaires with photographic images of a systematic sample of 27 historical buildings and 60 chromatic historical models were applied. Quantitative data was analyzed by statistical means. The results support the assumption that buildings with distinct stylistic architectural characteristics present identifiable and consistent color attributes (in terms of palette, structuring and dynamics). The methodological procedures adopted in the investigation allowed the identification of local and temporal chromatic characteristics of the built heritage, as well the elaboration of the typical chromatic schemes of each architectural style. The findings derived from the analyses of perception of chromatic typology support the assumption that there is strong relationship between familiarity with urban historical environment and both evaluation of buildings of different styles and preferences for some attributes of color patterns such as, chromatic component, color distributions on facade and complexity of color compositions of typology.

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