Door 4: Luis Barragán
Architecture in times of Instagram is a tricky, often timely matter, as people tend to like or feature things as they appear interesting or likeable on various platforms. An architect, who on the one hand stood the test of time but is still highly insta-friendly, because of his use of bold colors, like millennial pink, is the Mexican architect Luis Barragán.
He was born in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1902. Initially he studied engineering at Escuela Libre de Ingenieros in his hometown, he graduated in 1923 and took additional courses to also become an architect. After his graduation he traveled through Europe, especially France and Spain, and got introduced to European Modernism. On his travels he also got to know the German-French author Ferdinand Bac, who he cited throughout his life.
He returned to Mexico in 1926 and started to work in Guadalajara, where he combined his modernist influences with traditional indigenous styles, which led to his unique architectural style. Five years later he traveled again to Europe, where he shortly met Le Corbusier and also stayed long in New York, where he got in touch with the artist José Clemente Orozco and the architect Frederick John Kiesler.
After his return, his work and those of his peers strongly shaped and influenced the face of Mid-century Mexico. Contrary to the European modernists he did not see the house as a machine for living, but rather strove for an emotional architecture, saying that "any work of architecture which does not express serenity is a mistake."
Material-wise he used raw materials such as stone or wood and combined them with his original use of light and highlighted it with his use of colors. Next to multiple private residences, including his own built in 1948 and declared UNESCO World heritage site in 2004, he is known among other for the Jardine de Pedregal in Mexico City, Torres de Satélite or the Casa Gilardi.
A retrospective in 1975 at MoMA in New York gave his reputation and importance a significant push and made him known outside of Mexico. In 1980 he was awarded the Pritzker Prize as the second laureate and is still the only Mexican architect. He died in 1988 in Mexico City at the age of 86.