Summer 2016

In Focus: Luis Barragán

“Any work of architecture which does not express serenity is a mistake.”
Luis Barragán, Contemporary Architects, 1980, St. Martins Press


There are some architects whose designs are so intertwined with their home country that it's hard to think of one without the other. Spain’s Antoni Gaudí's instantly recognizable, whimsical creations were an integral influence on the country’s distinctive Catalan modernist aesthetic, while Bjarke Ingel’s clean-lined sustainable designs are quintessentially Danish. In Mexico, it's all about Louis Barragán. Internationally celebrated for his emphasis on exuberant color, sharp angles, and masterful manipulation of light and shadow, Barragán’s buildings are a sight to be seen. Which is why, when we travelled to Mexico City to shoot our summer campaigns, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit some of the renowned architect’s most iconic works.

Casa Barragán, 1948, and Cuadra San Cristóbal equestrian estate, 1968

Arguably Barragán’s most influential works from his illustrious career are the Cuadra San Cristobal equestrian estate and Casa Barragán—his former residence and studio, where he lived until his death in 1988. Both properties spotlight four of Barragán’s trademarks: an unabashed use of color, raw materials, traditional masonry building and a seamless blending of indoor and outdoor space. The end result is at once breathtaking and soothing—exactly what Barragán intended, no doubt.


Torres de Satélite, 1958

Barragán teamed up with sculptor Mathias Goeritz to design these magnificent highway sculptures, which stand in the middle of Mexico City’s main freeway. The duo were inspired by Mexican painter Jesús Reyes Ferreira’s distinctive color palette, and the bold structures are now one of the most recognizable pieces of Mexican architecture in the world.


Casa Gilardi, 1957-1975

This stunning home was Barragán’s final residential project, and undoubtedly his most masterful use of light. The home features Barragán’s typically bright hues across broad slabs of concrete, designed with jutting corners and sharp angles built to entice, reflect and play with light. Upon entrance, the yellow stained glass window bathes a hallway in a deep glow, while another window overlooking the indoor pool bounces a luminous beam off the shimmering surface onto the wall. These work harmoniously to create the illusion of space and depth in the tiny 10 x 35 meter plot of land—proving there was no project too big or small for the imaginative architect.