"Colour is about emphasizing the power of architecture, not painting over it."

An interview with Störmer Murphy and Partners from Hamburg


"We are architects. Great architecture is our passion. With the aim of creating buildings of the highest quality and durability, we have been planning and implementing a wide range of projects for over 25 years. Every location and every task requires an individual solution – each one as different as our clients themselves". This is how the team of Strömer Murphy and Partners from Hamburg presents itself. The individuality of each and every one of them is already declared important in the introduction. Le Corbusier also knew about the subjective effects of architecture, colour, art and words on individuals. Le Corbusier said: "Get people back on their feet, their feet on the ground, their lungs in the air, their spirit on an edifying community work and revive it with the joys of a fruitful individual enthusiasm".

Interviews offer an opportunity to provide readers with high-quality information from specialists. Strömer Murphy and Partners are creative professionals who have skilfully used Le Corbusier colours on the exterior façade of the Hotel "Adenauerallee" in Hamburg. We wish you many inputs!


Hamburg is a vibrant city. What was it like for you to take up the challenge of being part of the project?

The building site is a good example of this. When we started working on a development concept for Adenauerallee more than eight years ago, our client had the finished implementation planning for an office building. Changes in the general conditions made it possible to rethink the project: we gradually conceived a development – away from monofunctional office use and towards a hotel and residential location with a high-rise building. However, the location on the heavily frequented main road and the small-scale structures in the directly adjacent side streets represented a great challenge. This was no child's play – but an all the more exciting task, which we enjoyed tackling.


How did this project in cooperation with the client ABG Allgemeine Bauträger- Gesellschaft mbH & Co. come about?

The project was originally initiated by EHG/Patrizia, who approached us. After the building permit was granted, the ABG took over the project and carried it out.


The team of Störmer Murphy and Partners consists of engineers, architects, draughtsmen and creative people with master degrees in architecture and urban planning. To what extent did Le Corbusier play a role during the planning phase?

(Unfortunately he was not employed by us). Le Corbusier has created icons of modern architecture which are fixed and formative elements of architectural theory and thus – sometimes only unconsciously – shape our planning activities.

« Architecture is the artful, correct and magnificent play of structures gathered under the light. »

For the project "Hotel und Wohnen Adenauerallee", you have chosen discreet and harmonious colours. Why?

When choosing colours and materials, we followed our wish to create a connection to the neighbouring buildings. The travertine façade of the administration building from the 1950s that stands just in front works as a reference here.


How were the original Le Corbusier colours from the Architectural Polychromy used in the residential and hotel sector?

All metal surfaces of the façade, such as window frames and sills, parapet panels and the technical cladding have been powder coated* in the colour spectrum.


Just between us: Had you heard of the Architectural Polychromy and the 63 colours of Le Corbusier before the "Adenauerallee" project? And as an experienced architect, where do you see the greatest benefit of polychromy?

We were already familiar with Le Corbusier's colour collection for interior design in other projects. But its use for façade design was new to us in its application. We see the greatest benefit in being able to choose from a coherent and coordinated colour spectrum that appeals to everyone who looks at the house.


The project is described on your website as follows: "The planned structures of building heights and building dimensions on the property adapt this situation and create a harmonious transition". Le Corbusier said in 1965 that sky, space, trees, steel and cement – in this exact order – and hierarchy are the materials of urban planning. How did Störmer Murphy and Partners come up with the shapes and colours of the high-rise building and hotel?

Our aim is to find the best possible individual solution for each location, which naturally fits into the urban planning context. Here, too, we have intensively studied the location in advance, reacted to the local situation and found an answer that is appropriate and conveys interest in the new.

« Colour in architecture – a means as powerful as the ground plan and section. Or better: polychromy, a component of the ground plan and the section itself. »

In 2014, Störmer Murphy and Partners won 1st prize for the ‘Mall of the Emirates. Luxury Hotel Dubai’. In the project description one can read various remarks regarding style and quality. The entrance area is in itself a classy object. Once again, you have chosen sober but strong colours for the colour palette. In your opinion, what role does colour play in architecture?

Colour is about emphasizing the power of architecture, not painting over it.


What is the biggest misconception about architects?

‘They can only talk about colour.’

Is there a city, a country, a region where Störmer Murphy and Partners would dream of being able to carry out a large-scale project? And why this choice?

In Antarctica, because it is difficult to find a region that will be subject to such great changes in the future as this continent. Every form of architecture must incorporate this fact and nowhere is colour more important than in this part of the world.


Le Corbusier said: "The purpose of construction is to hold things together; the purpose of architecture is to move us". What do you think of this?

This sentence is still relevant today, although it applies to a context that has changed.

* The powder coating was carried out using licensed and quality-tested products from Les Couleurs® Le Corbusier's licence partner IGP Pulvertechnik AG.


What is powder paint / powder coating?

A powder coating is ideal for the permanent protection of a surface made of sheet metal, aluminum or steel and other materials. The basic principles of powder coating were developed in the late 1940s and early 1950s. Powder coatings are organic, mostly thermosetting coating powders with a solid content of 100%. Unlike all coating technologies, powder coating does not require any solvents. The powder particles are electrostatically charged by the application equipment and applied to the workpieces with the aid of airflow. The subsequent "melting" and "baking", usually between 150°C and 180°C, creates a closed resistant film by cross-linking the macromolecules. Powder coatings are used in many areas and applications (exterior or interior for example). Powder-coated products are more resistant to deterioration of the coating quality caused by impact, moisture, chemicals, ultraviolet light and other extreme weather conditions. It also reduces the risk of scratches, chipping, abrasion, corrosion, fading and other signs of wear.

The IGP-Les Couleurs® Le Corbusier products

IGP-DURA®xal - Coating system with material character The fine microstructure of IGP-DURA®xal creates the original deep matt velvety appearance of "ready-to-use oil paint coats on rolls" as Le Corbusier described the wallpaper collections. The excellent flow that matches the profile as well as the remarkable colour depth predestine IGP-DURA®xal to represent the "Polychromie Architecturale" in a unique way worldwide. Experienced IGP pigment specialists and lacquer technicians took almost 2 years to produce the original colour samples within tight tolerances. The resulting IGP powder paint collection "Claviers de Couleurs" is subject to regular checks and approval by Les Couleurs Suisse AG, licensee of the Fondation Le Corbusier. IGP-DURA®xal 4201 – for highly weather-resistant application on façades. IGP-DURA®xal 4601 – weatherproof outdoor quality for indoor and outdoor components.


The following licensed manufacturers work with IGP-Les Couleurs® Le Corbusier products for unique colour depth:

  • Colours for window, door and façade systems from heroal
  • Object furnishing in Swiss excellence by Dietiker


We thank Störmer Murphy and Partners from Hamburg for the great cooperation and wish them continued inspiration and zest for action.

All Pictures copyright: Rainer Taepper Architekturfotografie


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