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Any Colour You Like

It's colourful enough to be have been noticed ever since the rainbow of glass panels went on the balconies but now ICONA in Stratford is finally completed with the architects, Stock Woolstencroft, handing over the development so it can be opened.

The 249 residential unit scheme is dominated by an elliptical tower 18 floor that overlooks lower rise blocks of four and seven stories and the new landscaped space in between.

In drawing inspiration from the work of the late Donald Judd, a minimalist who died in 1997, the architects have successfully transformed ICONA from what would otherwise be a rather ordinary tower into something that has a touch more.

Judd is well known for his simple but bold use of colours, and clean singular shapes almost like the colour scheme of the Olympic rings. In particular he was a fan of art installations that had coloured plexiglass, similar to ICONAs balconies.

The facades that have been erected on the scheme are so fragile that they had to be pre-fabricated off-site already complete so they could be put up without damage to their constituent parts at the same time saving the contractor the effort of having to erect scaffolding.

Bringing out the colour even more is the foil of white and cyan cladding so lightly saturated if you blinked you'd miss it. There is also the use of repetition with strong lines forming a projecting grid-work around the tower every four floors horizontally that some of the balconies are mounted on, and vertically with every two banks of windows recessed behind and between them.

Cleanly modernist, the visutal composition of projecting grid lines lines with the balconies working as planes of colour, and the depth that the white cladding has behind, is perhaps more similar to the work of Piet Mondrian than Judd however there is always a hint that the colour could eventually overwhelm the white.

Of course Mondrian would be unlikely to approve of the curving walls of the tower and the architect using more than only primary colours, two basic violations of the De Stijl movement that he spent much of his life a champion of.

The riot of colour continues inside with a patchwork of various shades greeting residents and visitors alike in the lobby area that avoids the bland beige and whites usually on offer in developments of this class.

Colour panels are also a hardwearing way of creating lasting decorations that need little maintenance but will still look good in years to come, something that will please the developer, Telford Homes.

It may be colourful but ICONAs importance doesn't come from it's competent design, but rather what it represents - a glimpse of things to come. It is the first tower to be completed that overlooks the Olympic Park, an area that by 2012 will be completely transformed with not only top sports facilities but also a new urban centre at Stratford City and several dozen towers.
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