Friday, December 26, 2008

Luis Barragan Apartments

Luis Barragan's Apartments

Luis Barragan (1902-1988) is most well known for a number of projects which feature bold colours, strong geometry and a masterful control of light and space which was to define and influence contemporary Mexican Architecture. It was a surprise then to discover the strong European modernism and extent of the influence of Le Corbusier on a number of apartment buildings Barragan designed in the 1930's which show little of the architectural ideas, which were inspired by traditional Mexican architecture, in his later work that were to become so influential yet reveal much about his development as an architect.

During Barragan’s second trip he met Le Corbusier and attended some of his lectures. On his return to Mexico he would incorporate the ideas of Le Corbusier, the Espirit Nouveau, and the Bauhaus into his architecture. The extent to which his architecture was influenced by Le Corbusier during his rationalist period is evident in the apartment buildings he designed during the 30’s.

These buildings could be seen as an important part of Barragan’s development as an architect that evolved to his more well known later work. Barragan explored the use of modern materials (glass, concrete and steel), rather than local materials, careful proportions, clean lines and blank walls with carefully placed openings, strip windows and roof terraces and his designs were dictated by concerns with economy and functionalism.

At what point Barragan returned back to traditional materials and Mexican architecture I do not know but it is clear that the influence of European Modernism was essential to the manipulation of space, light and materiality that makes his later work so remarkable.

Barragan Foundation

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