Barragán’s clients for the Casa Gilardi residence in Mexico City had just two requirements: keep the flowering jacaranda tree in the plan, and include an indoor pool. These simple, natural features speak to the pared-down quality that gives the architect’s work so much power. Luis Barragán used color, surface, and scale, much like the minimalism artists from the 1970s and 80s. Artists like Donald Judd and Walter de Maria were keenly aware of how their sculpture moved beyond a discrete object to encompass a sense of feeling, place, and atmosphere. This is the power of minimalist art.
The hallmark of any of Luis Barragán’s homes is their reliance on light. The architect designs spaces like the common areas of Casa Gilardi with an astute knowledge of the sun’s passing arc. He allows light to dissolve borders between inside and outside, inviting visitors to transcend spaces that are typically divided and stifled by a conventional architectural program. For example, in Casa Gilardi, a dining room is not just a dining room — it’s a place to swim in the nearby indoor pool. With Casa Gilardi, the architect’s last project, he applies primary colors to the home’s interior stucco in striking moments. Visitors walk down a bright yellow hallway sliced through with vertical apertures that throw shards of light on the floor. A royal blue room sits at the end of the hallway, it’s deep color drawing visitors deeper into the space and creating an exaggerated sense of depth. Here, light reflects from the water of the indoor pool and bounces around the walls to create a gentle texture mediating between the bold colors.
In Casa Gilardi, Barragán’s architecture and design are much like that of sculpture. The architect sculpts space and atmosphere around its human inhabitants to cool them, calm them, and encourage them to contemplate the world in which they exist.
To learn more about Barragán visit: http://www.casaluisbarragan.org/