Breakpoint: Desktop XLDesktopTabletMobile
Go Back The Future Perfect

The Present Tense


Color Story: Luis Barragán

August 11, 2017
By: Aaron Peasley

“My house is my refuge, an emotional piece of architecture, not a cold piece of convenience.”

It would be an understatement to say that the buildings of Mexican architect Luis Barragán have stood the test of time. Born in 1902, Barragán famously combined architecture and color in a range of structures that remain innovative, timeless and enigmatic.


In Mexico City, both Casa Luis Barragán and Casa Geladi offer an object lesson in the architect’s mastery of light and space. Barragán arrived in Mexico City in the 1930s, but it wasn’t until a seminal trip to Europe - where he crossed paths with modernists including French architect Le Corbusier - that his singular mix of international style modernism and Mexican colonial architecture began to coalesce. The result was christened “emotional architecture,” given its ability to inspire wonder and elevate the imaginations of its inhabitants.


Barragán’s Mexico City house and studio, built in 1948 and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the perfect immersion into his thoughts on architecture and how to create spaces that resonate on a human level. The same could be said of Casa Gilardi, the architect’s last completed residence, which blends internal elements such as an indoor pool, with the architect’s otherworldly color palette.


As a visit to the properties evince, Barragán’s houses were intended to be almost spiritual refuges - true microcosms that offered a sense of repose and tranquility. This effect is conveyed through the use of intimate public spaces, few windows and decorative flourishes that spanned modern art, folkloric items and pre-Colombian artifacts. And of course, through it all is the fearless color palette. In the Prizker prize-winning architect’s own words: “Architecture is a art when one consciously or unconsciously creates aesthetic emotion in the atmosphere and when this environment produces well being.”


Photography by Erika Siegel.