ARCHITECTURAL ICON CASA LUIS BARRAGÁN BY LUIS BARRAGÁN
A Modernist masterpiece, painted in the signature vibrant colours of Mexico
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