"Serenity. Serenity is the great and true antidote against anguish and fear, and today, more than ever, it is the architect’s duty to make of it a permanent guest in the home, no matter how sumptuous or how humble. Throughout my work I have always strived to achieve serenity, but one must be on guard not to destroy it by the use of an indiscriminate palette."
Luis Barragán - Architect’s own house, Mexico City 1948.
It’s impossible to accurately portray the power of this project in pictures. I thought I knew what to expect due to my exposure to this house over the years; studying it closely in classes, redrawing the plans as a studio exercise, seeing publications, images, interpretations and videos. Despite all of that, I was still completely blown away during my visit this past summer.
From the contrast of the humble exterior, which respectfully sits within the dense, low-scale working class neighborhood, to the absolute mastery of spatial sequence, color, light, and texture, it is truly one of the richest architectural experiences I’ve ever had. What struck me the most was how dynamic the entire house is despite the static nature of the structure. Spaces continually transform with even the slightest change in perspective, which is particularly impressive considering how heavy the architecture feels through the use of brutal materials, proportions, lighting, and detailing (even down to the furniture).
Barragan’s control over how these areas unfold is unparalleled; each room is perfectly cropped to maintain the intimacy of its boundary, yet reveals just enough about the rest of the house to reinforce a larger context. Each of these gestures articulates a particular mood based on its function, whether it is a relationship to nature, a historical/contextual gesture, or a sense of weight and shelter. Even the roof terrace, with its large brightly painted bulkheads and parapets, is a tremendous play on scale, perspective, and movement. Truly an inimitable masterwork. Scans via, top photos (C) Kim Zwarts.