Universell Utforming AS and KOI Colour Studio launch colour guide for school buildings

The way schools look has an impact on day to day life. The new colour guide “Colours and Contrasts in School Buildings” (Norwegian language only) shows which colours to use in school buildings to improve everyday life of students and employees.

Download the colour guide here (Norwegian language version only)

We highly recommend the document to be printed professionally for correct colour reproduction.

– Schools have in the past decades come to look primarily like sterile office buildings, dominated by white surfaces as well as black and grey. Buildings and interiors should be painted in colours according to their use, says Dagny Thurmann Moe, creative director of KOI Colour Studio, who have created the guide in collaboration with Universell Utforming AS. Architectural studio’s Bølgeblikk Arkitekter, Spinn Arkitekter, the interior design office IARK, as well as  Oslo Municipal Undertaking for Educational Buildings and Property (Undervisningsbygg Oslo KF) and others, who have contributed to the project. The guide is financially supported by The Norwegian Directorate for Children, Youth and Family Affairs (Bufdir)

Contrasts, colours, colour temperature, materials, lighting, and plants are elements that play a role in how we thrive in a space.

The colour guide is created to assist architects and building owners who work with the rehabilitation or planning of school buildings. The goal is to help create spaces that work as intended, and at the same time ensure that laws of universal design are being followed.

It is high time that we pay attention to how we use colours and materials. For the longest time focus has been solely on physical functionality, without care for aesthetics, and how they affect the use of a building. A school building is supposed to be adapted to its students and different user groups. Different rooms have different visual requirements, is the message embedded in this colour guide.

«It is particularly important to focus on targeted, conscious use of colour and colour design in a school building. Everyone is susceptible to the surrounding environment, but children are particularly sensitive and vulnerable”, Thurmann-Moe points out.


— We are bombarded with sensory impressions every single day, and students are often over-stimulated. This makes it particularly important to use colours that create a calm atmosphere, making it easy to focus on learning. White walls, today’s default solution, are exhausting to work in, as they overstimulate the optic nerve and lead to exhaustion, particularly when combined with bright light, the colour designer adds.

«We wish to inspire use of colours, while providing guidance to satisfy rules of contrast in universal design at the same time. That way we contribute to make school buildings accessible to everyone,” says Trine Presterud, academic director at Universell Utforming AS.

Attention to good use of colour has been lacking in the past years, and because of that competency in the field has been greatly reduced. We hope this handbook can help create better environments in existing school buildings, as well as in new buildings under development.

The guide is created for architects, consultants, suppliers, interior designers, property managers, builders, operating staff / caretakers, teachers, and everyone else who wishes to educate themselves on the subject of colour and universal design.

We highly recommend the document to be printed professionally for correct colour reproduction.

Customer Bufdir
Year 2021