TOPAZ Issue 7 / 2003
A gallery of personal portraits
To carry forth the Olympic Spirit
Personal development
Film prompters
Healing - its inside the value and purpose of life
Research and discoveries in the garden
Drawing - the unseen hand
Children with ADHD win confidence
A new and original colour combination for ADHD schools
Colour Curios

A new and original colour combination for ADHD schools

A very conspicuous and very mysterious combination of colours and structures meets the eye when you enter the large classrooms at the specialized school for ADHD children, ‘The School in Charlottegard’ in Copenhagen. All the walls have the same colour combinations of peach, amber, lemon and light grey in different and specific sizes. On the middle of the wall and all the way around the room is a precisely measured box arrangement in light blue and peach. This very specific design is not only made to please the eye, but is custom-made to enhance concentration and learning abilities in children suffering from ADHD, also known as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Topaz spoke with the architect behind the decoration of the ADHD rooms, Marianne T. Nielsen from Template-Stiftelsen, in Denmark.

What is the story behind the ADHD project?
The ADHD colour combination was incorporated in the rebuilding of the teaching facilities at the specialized school in Charlottegard, which took place during the summer of 2001. The purpose of the building development was to optimize the ADHD students’ learning conditions, to maximise opportunities for individual teaching and to enhance the social conditions.

It was necessary to do extensive rebuilding to change the physical framework of the area in question. This meant creating a small kitchen, building four classrooms, bringing in glass partitions, the introduction of individual workplaces and other ideas. The decoration with specific colour combinations is the most important element of the whole rebuilding, and it is a recurrent theme throughout all the rebuilt rooms, including the kitchen and on cupboards and doors.

Where did the idea of ADHD colour combinations come from?
When I began the task of planning the re-building I saw the possibility for creating something very special that was not only pleasant to look at but also had a functional value, and in which colour could play a decisive part in the teaching of ADHD children. Through my contacts in the Template Network I co-operated with The Plasma Team, an innovative research think tank in Israel. For some time now they have had great success with their exploration into the influence of colour and much of their expertise concerning colour was put to practical use at the ADHD school.

I also undertook a thorough research into ADHD and how it expresses itself in children. Children suffering ADHD are very restless and fidgety; they are impulsive and have difficulty concentrating longer than for a few minutes. They are easily distracted by things and are very noisy. They react very aggressively to change, as an example, if something has been moved from its customary place.

When teaching began in the rebuilt classrooms none of the children reacted aggressively to the changes, which was the first positive indication that the project might be effective to some extent.

18 months after the completion of the building project the schoolteachers, in co-operation with the education council and an associated psychologist, evaluated the whole project. The reports give an exceedingly favourable impression of the project, stating that, as a result, there is less conflict, more peace and concentration, greater contentment and agressiveness is quickly quietened.

There is a pronounced professional development in the youngest student group, a greater acceptance between the children and more resolve amongst the children to help themselves. The children also display more confidence and personal enterprise

How would you evaluate the ADHD project?
Some time after the project was completed, I paid a visit to the ADHD rooms with a test group to undertake my own research into how the colour combinations influence people. Some of the participants were blindfolded before entering the room, others were not. Each person jotted down his or her reactions and feelings prompted by the colour combinations. When we compared results the similarities were striking. As an example, everyone described how they felt anaesthetized from the neck downwards, at the same time having a very clear focus in the head and an enhanced ability to concentrate.

I believe that the importance of colour is vastly underrated. The effect of the ADHD combinations is impressive, and it is not only children with ADHD that can profit by this, for its implications are enormous.

The science behind the ADHD colour combinations comes out of years of research undertaken by various groupings within the Template Network around the world. This involves researching how different colours, structures, forms, shapes and also letters influence our environment and our quality of life. As one example, the light grey colour in the ADHD combination is a settling colour, quietening extrovert activities, and making it a good colour to use when one wishes to deliberate upon something.

Interview by Rolf Christoffersen

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