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May 2021




Before 1856, people had to catch 12.000 snales to produce 1,4 grams of the colour purple, that's why you don't see purple flags until recent times. In west-african cultures people used the colour blue during death and bereavement ceremonies, which is why slaves who worked on the Southern plantations sang about "the blues" in their songs. With this edition, we explore the diverse meanings and interpretations that different colours have.

Editorial team

Federico Ruiz, Inez Margaux Spaargaren, Robert van Overveld, Oliwia Jackowska, Jonas Althuis, Alessandro Rognoni

With contributions from

Lucie Castillo-Ros, Valentin Zech, Carmen Wientjes, Erik Ootes, Maria Christopoulou, Georgia Katsi

Cover design by

Editorial Team


Have you ever asked yourselves why there isn’t much blue food?

Science tells us that a combination of pigments with the inability to produce blue is present in any given fruit or vegetable. A different, more instinctive answer, is that blue is a colour that doesn’t look particularly tasty (apart from blue ice-lollies, which are great). On the other hand, the colour of watermelon looks the way watermelon tastes. When we see it, combined with the white of its juicy reflections and the black of the seeds, our brains automatically simulate its flavour.

Nature constantly exchanges information with us through the means of colour. Hence, as humans, we pretend to be able to see every shade of the natural spectrum. That is not true. Insects, for example, can perceive colours that we cannot see, with eyes able to catch a deeper spectrum, distinguishing ultraviolet flowers that, to us, would look the same as any other flower. In our anthropocentric mindset, we struggle to acknowledge how much our perception of the world is relative to our limitations.

Despite this, colours have had, and still hold, a decisive role as signs and symbols with which we communicate. We have given them names, simplified and catalogued their differences. In order to control and reproduce them by our own means, we have introduced “colour spaces”, where they can be identified numerically by coordinates. Architects, who are quickly becoming Photoshoppers, use RGB, CMYK, HSV models as ordinary instruments of their practice. By these means we created our own illusory colour world.

Exploring colours; their multifaceted appearances and misleading characters has proven interesting. In this issue, we delve into colour’s political meaning, its disparate symbolisms, and look at the shades of our everyday life. We asked our contributors to write about a colour of their own interest, and challenged ourselves to do the same. You will read about pink prisons, purple design, light blue photographs, green McDonald’s, the golden sun, brown shits, red light districts, and more.

With this edition, Bnieuws hopes to make your life a bit more colourful. Enjoy!


50 Shades of Clay

From the editors

4 - 5


You don't have to look far to find a brick building in the Netherlands, they're almost everywhere. For centuries, the brick has been a constant; governments have risen and fallen, crises have collapsed the economy, society has changed, but bricks remain. The use of brick is one of the reasons that there are so many century-old historic city centres in the Netherlands; bricks are robust. They don't rot, they're not flammable, they barely weaken over time. So how did bricks come to dominate the built environment of the Netherlands? Where do they get their diverse red, brown and yellow tones from? And what does the future of bricks look like?


Pen Pal

8 - 10


What comes to your mind upon hearing the word pink? Did you think of a prison? This is the story of Baker-Miller Pink, a shade of pink chosen for its calming abilities and used in carceral facilities. Let’s dive into the bizarre tale of this colour and its unconventional application.

Inclusive Design is the Norm

From the editors

11 - 13


What does the colour purple mean? The first thing that came to my mind was a Friday where young people wear purple clothing once a year, called Purple Friday. On Purple Friday sexual diversity is celebrated. They stand firm for their fellow youth who are bullied or feel marginalized because of their orientation. By wearing purple, they show support for the LGBTQ group. Many schools in the Netherlands are currently striving to be inclusive: accessible to all. But when they hear the school bell, will the environment outside of school also be inclusive, accessible to all?

The Sky is Not Blue

From the editors

14 - 16


If you would tell an ancient Greek that you have a blue iPhone, he would probably not understand you. Why? Because the word blue didn’t even exist, nor did the iPhone. If you would tell a Dutchmen in 1100 that the sky is blue, he would probably laugh. Why? Well, because it’s white, to him at least. The colour blue has quite a history, so let’s take a look.

A Lack of Exposure

From the editors

17 - 18


Philippe Ruault’s sterile visuals for Lacaton&Vassal are an alternative to a world of inebriating architectural images.

Thoughts on Green

Pen Pal

19 - 21


Colour is about collective memory, about emotional associations. A single colour can mean countless different things depending on its context and our brains are extremely quick in decoding that underlying meaning. This is never explicitly taught to us, we just know. And since the context defines the meaning of a colour, we all know differently, depending on our background. Below, an attempt to show some of the many facets of green.

The Morning Sun

Pen Pal

22 - 23


A Shitty Architectural Autobiography

From the editors

24 - 26


Shit is brown. It is also one of those things that unites us as humanity, and yet we as architects and urbanists avoid talking about it. I don’t talk about it, in good part because my grandma told me that politics, religion and human excretions were not things to be discussed with others. However, the way architects design toilets might be the best clue to understand their view on this earthly matter.

50 Euros for the Pleasures: Sex Workers in Red-light Districts

From the editors

27 - 29


Prostitution and sex services have always been lining the urban fabric around the world. Sex work has been dubbed the oldest profession in history. This article explores the contradicting ideas on sex work and why we should be talking about it.

Artefact: My Giant

30 - 31


‘Artefact’ is a recurring two-page spread, which features a beloved object presented by one of the BK City staff members. Every month, the author passes the ‘Artefact’ contributorship to the next. Last month, Ulf Hackauf nominated logistics manager Erik Ootes, who works at the faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment.

The Berlage Questionnaire: Francesca Torzo

The Berlage x Bnieuws



Based on the late-nineteenth-century parlour game, made fabulous by answers from Marcel Proust, The Berlage Questionnaire is a series of questions posed to guests after their public online lecture about their lives, thoughts, values, and experiences to reveal their wit, character, and personality.

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