Luis Barragan

Born in 1902, Barragan is probably the most important and influential Mexican architect of the twentieth century.  A self-trained architect, Barragan attended lectures by LeCorbusier in the early 1920s and combined these early European modernist ideas with some aspects of vernacular Mexican buildings, specifically the intensely colored stucco walls.

Las Arboledas

“It is alarming that publications devoted to architecture have banished from their pages the words Beauty, Inspiration, Magic, Spellbound, Enchantment, as well as the concepts of Serenity, Silence, Intimacy and Amazement.  All these have nestled in my soul, and though I am fully aware that I have not done them complete justice in my work, they have never ceased to be my guiding lights.”

from Barragan’s Pritzker Prize acceptance speech

House for Luis Barragan

What I find most interesting in Barragan’s work is the finely distilled minimalism that is based on simple, natural phenomena.  Light, color, space, water, shadow all play prominent roles in his work and the building elements are reduced to heighten these aspects.  This is so much more satisfying and establishes a sense of place unlike so many more recent minimalist architects whose simple and stark designs often only highlight themselves.

Chapel of the Capuchinas

Images from the excellent book The Architecture of Luis Barragan written by Emilio Ambasz and published by The Museum of Modern Art, NY.

Barragan died in 1988 and his drawings and legacy are carefully looked after by the Barragan Foundation: http://www.barragan-foundation.org/ . On that website you can find drawings and site-located photos of his most important works.

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3 thoughts on “Luis Barragan

  1. I read this week that Kahn and Barragan became friends. Kahn admired his work, and invited him to the Salk Institute while it was under construction, and asked him about the plaza between the buildings. Barragan suggested that it should be paved, hardscaped, to create ‘another facade – to the sky’.

    1. I’ve read that as well. Sounds too good to be true. The elemental use of water however, which Kahn doesn’t utilize on other projects suggests Barragan.

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