Luis Barragan Portrait

In the collective unconscious, minimal architecture is made of squared volumes with neutral shades, from white to beige and from gray to black.

But where are all the colors?

Probably, they’re all hidden in the creations of Luis Barragán, the Mexican architect who started his research about color use in his studio-house in Mexico City. What you see from outside it is a building of reinforced concrete, but inside each color finds its perfect collocation: yellow colors the wood of the roof, magenta covers the wall of the stairwell and green furnishes the office.

In the collective unconscious, minimal architecture is made of squared volumes with neutral shades, from white to beige and from gray to black.

But where are all the colors?

Probably, they all hide in the creations of Luis Barragán, the Mexican architect who started his research about color use in his studio-house in Mexico City. What you see from outside it is a building of reinforced concrete, but inside each color finds its perfect collocation: yellow colors the wood of the roof, magenta covers the wall of the stairwell and green furnishes the office.

All Barragán’s projects are characterised by the use of color as architectural element, as walls or transepts.

This is very interesting in fountains and swimming pools, for example, which are usually associated with cold colors such as blue, light blue and turquoise. Barragán -Pritzker Price in 1980- moves away from tradition, inserting fuchsia walls, taps integrated in red constructions, lilac fencing.

In other situations, the color is necessary as background for details which need to be emphasized: it is the case of Gilardi House in Mexico City, where he was asked to create the space around a jacaranda tree in the garden, and Barragán decide to put a lilac wall, the same color of the flowers of that tree.

Beyond the private projects, the most famous public work of the architect is certainly the Satellite Towers of Mexico City, made in collaboration with Ferreira and Goeritz. These towers had to be the ideal entrance to the Satellite Town, a residential area of the capital city of Mexico, projected by the urbanist Mario Pani.

The five towers with triangular drawing are painted in different colors, nowadays are blue, white, red, black and yellow, as it was in the original intentions of Barragán. Through the years they have been changed several times, decided sometimes by other artist and sometimes by economical reasons.

Barragán’s architecture, which developed when the International Style with its sub-trend of Rationalism and Bauhaus created projects based on neutral shades, represented a revolution: the Mexican architect showed to the world that color is not only a decorations, but indeed it is a real architectural element, that needs, not only, to take in consideration, but also to be projected.

To discover more and plan a visit ☞ casaluisbarragan.orgbarragan-foundation.org

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Luis Barragán’s San Cristóbal stables in Mexico City