AR­CHI­TEC­TURAL ICON CASA LUIS BAR­RAGÁN BY LUIS BAR­RAGÁN

A Mod­ernist mas­ter­piece, painted in the sig­na­ture vi­brant colours of Mex­ico

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Architecture -

The only in­di­vid­ual prop­erty in Latin Amer­ica to be hon­oured by UN­ESCO as a world her­itage site, Casa Luis Bar­ragán is one of the best ex­am­ples of playful Mod­ernist ar­chi­tec­ture in the world. De­signed by the coun­try’s most fa­mous ar­chi­tect, Pritzker Prizewin­ner Luis Bar­ragán (1902–1988), the house, which was Bar­ragán’s home for most of his life as well as his work­ing stu­dio, is a must-see for ar­chi­tec­ture lovers vis­it­ing bustling Mex­ico City.

Built in 1948 in the sleepy westerly sub­urb of Tacubaya, the house’s ex­te­rior, which blends into the grey of neigh­bour­ing homes, may seem non­de­script to passersby, how­ever, on en­ter­ing, it soon be­comes clear that this is no or­di­nary prop­erty. A con­nois­seur of the work of the Mod­ernist move­ment, Guadala­jara-born Bar­ragán cham­pi­oned the ben­e­fits of min­i­mal, sim­ple liv­ing. Hav­ing worked along­side such es­teemed con­tem­po­raries as Le Cor­bus­ier and Amer­i­can ar­chi­tect Louis Kahn, Bar­ragán in­cor­po­rated the styles of the lead­ing ar­chi­tects of the time into many of his de­signs, bril­liantly in­fus­ing them with his colour­ful Mex­i­can her­itage.

Straight lines, strik­ing walk­way-style stair­cases and par­ti­tion screens can be seen through­out Casa Luis Bar­ragán, cre­at­ing in­ter­est­ing vis­tas at ev­ery turn. Fo­cus­ing in­wards rather than out to the street, the build­ing is de­signed around a cen­tral gar­den, with high walls to keep out the ur­ban din. Out­side spa­ces were a must for Bar­ragán, with this home boast­ing a large plaza-style gar­den in­spired by the typ­i­cal lay­outs found in many Span­ish colo­nial ha­cien­das. The en­closed roof ter­race in­cludes large con­crete walls painted in vi­brant hot pink and burnt or­ange, matched with grey con­crete pan­els to cre­ate a sculp­tural and peace­ful en­vi­ron­ment. These shades later be­came a sig­na­ture of Bar­ragán’s ar­chi­tec­tural style, show­cased in many of his well­known projects, in­clud­ing elec­tric-pink ranch Cuadra San Cristóbal, also near Mex­ico City (com­pleted in 1968, the com­plex is now a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for art afi­ciona­dos, with fash­ion house Louis Vuit­ton pho­tograph­ing its ‘Spirit of Travel’ cam­paign there in 2016).

An ad­vo­cate of us­ing ar­chi­tec­tural tricks to max­imise a build­ing’s nat­u­ral light (rather than re­ly­ing on lamps), Bar­ragán de­signed a se­ries of sky­lights, win­dows and de­lib­er­ate open­ings to flood his home with sun­shine. Hav­ing de­vel­oped a love of all things Euro­pean dur­ing his trav­els as a young man, he also in­cor­po­rated pieces of fur­ni­ture and works of art from the con­ti­nent, in­clud­ing paint­ings by Pablo Pi­casso.

In 1995, the build­ing was fully re­stored and opened to the pub­lic as a na­tional mu­seum. This new­est chap­ter in the story of Luis Bar­ragán’s beau­ti­ful home fur­ther ce­ments its sta­tus as a Mex­i­can cul­tural land­mark. casaluis­bar­ra­gan.org

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