A paradigm-shifting approach to colour usage saw several exceptional projects being recognised at the 38th Dulux Colour Awards. The winning projects represent the pinnacle of design excellence and the most innovative, refined and transformative use of colour in our built environment.

Selected from 83 finalists across Australia and New Zealand, this year’s winners challenge the accepted norms of their respective typologies and set new benchmarks for innovation with colour.

“It is fitting that this year’s awards were presented at the Sydney Opera House, for it is the embodiment of exceptional design and precedent-setting architecture, qualities that the program epitomises,” says Andrea Lucena-Orr, Dulux colour and communications manager.

Alexandria House, the winner of the Australian Grand Prix, was unanimously applauded for its commitment to a singular gesture in the application of Dulux Cumberland Red, a deep burnished red to the ceiling of the home. The unpredictability of this design strategy redefines the genre and demonstrates, so simply, the strength of an original idea and the power of colour to transform our experience of architecture.

Similarly, the New Zealand Grand Prize winner, COMMON Architecture + Interiors, demonstrates the impact colour can have in a community when applied with great care and deep conviction. “Seven Colourful Little Houses, literally a row of low-cost houses in outer-suburban Christchurch, prompts a total rethink of the possibilities of urban development,” says Lucena-Orr. “It sets a new precedent for this typology, highlighting colour as a cost-effective, highly impactful design strategy, which is exactly what the awards program is designed to recognise.”

This year’s program saw projects of all types exemplifying outstanding original colour usage, from regional schools to inner-city retail outlets, an underground dining establishment, a heritage leisure club and a tiny gelato bar.

Speaking about key trends that have emerged from this year’s winning projects, Lucena-Orr says, “Colour blocking has been used to great effect across a number of projects in which spatial boundaries have been defined through colour alone. We are also seeing colour saturation in internal and external applications, which requires a level of commitment, and a deep understanding, of colour.”

This year’s awards program was expanded to include temporary or installation design as a standalone category. “The inaugural winning project, Community Hall at the NGV’s 2023 Melbourne Now exhibition, is testament to the sophistication of this genre for it is a visual feast of clashing colours, brilliant and brave,” says Lucena-Orr.

Along with the carnival-inspired colours of the Community Hall evident across a number of projects, contrasting earthy tones were also embraced, particularly deep rusty reds in external and internal applications, as well as dusky blues, warm greys and browns.

“If there is a dominant theme this year, it is the use of colour in all-encompassing ways, from coating every surface of a room in a single shade to painting an entire building in tonal graduations of one colour,” says Lucena-Orr. “In doing so, architects and designers are transforming our built environment, enhancing the user experience and challenging what we will accept as the traditional norm, especially once we see the potential of colour used in such ways."

For further information on this year’s winners, please visit Dulux Colour Awards 2024 winners.