The year I was born, 1980—the same date we trace The Hundreds back to—Luis Barragán won architecture’s highest distinction, the Pritzker Prize. The Mexican engineer has long been celebrated in his homeland for his work. In a country where literally ANYTHING goes when it comes to architecture (they don’t have the same governmental codes or rules), Barragán is the flagbearer of ingenuity. His use of color and mastery of light and volume have inspired some of the most brilliant architects in modern design.
Last week, Richer Poorer invited me and other dreamweavers from around the world down to Mexico City, and we got to go behind closed doors into three of Barragán’s most notable works. First up, Casa Prieto, the first of his more emotionally-designed projects.
Head chief at Richer Poorer, Iva Pawling:
If it was up to me, I’d be with you here where I am.
Iva and Allie:
Next up, Casa Gilardi, Barragán’s final house. He passed immediately after completion.
See what I was saying about NO RULES?
The deal when he built this house was that he couldn’t remove the jacaranda tree. So he built the house around it.
Initially constructed for two dude roommates, Casa Gilardi was envisioned as a party house. Which, it is.
Today, a family lives in it. The son said they still use it as a party house.
It’s a long way down.
This is Bruno. Bruno means “Bruce.” As in Bruce Wayne. The son is a big Batman fan.
Everyone harped on Drake for pulling inspiration from James Turrell, but James Turrell himself was inspired by visiting Casa Gilardi.
The third and final Barragán house we visited was his personal home and studio. Rumored to be gay, he died alone at 86 and left behind this masterpiece:
The shutters in his bedroom open in quadrants to allow the inhabitant to control the light in the space. The light also forms the shape of a glowing cross.
As seen on the left here:
There are all sorts of crazy details throughout Barragán’s architecture. The way the shadows bend around corners and line up with doorframes. Lowered ceilings to force Barragán to bow and stay humble.
But, the coolest thing he does is harness light. There’s no visible artificial lighting in any of these houses. Instead, he conceals lamps and lightbulbs behind eaves and corners. He utilizes natural light and reflects it off walls, which gives the entire experience a spiritual vibe.
The white room.
Jesus is off-centered on this wall here, but not so in a mirrored ball behind me. Lots of little secrets and tricks…
The roof is hard to get to, so it wasn’t intended for guests or partygoers. It was Barragán’s personal thinking space.
My favorite design of all the houses visited. This is what Barragán is all about: