Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mexico 9: Mexico City 3

A visit to Mexico City can never be complete without visiting the Luis Barragan House and Studio. It was built in 1948 in the suburb of Mexico City, near Constituyentes Metro. This building is an exceptional and creative architectural work in the post Second World War period. The building may look ordinary from the outside, but within the building contains Barragan's ingenious creation of integrating modern and traditional artistic and religious elements into a new architectural concept that have a great influences in the contemporary world of design and architecture. Barragan is believed to Mexico's best architecture because he won the Pritzker Architecture Prize. The house consists of 1161 square metres, with a ground floor and two upper levels, including a rooftop space and a private garden. In 2004, Luis Barragan House and Studio was declared to be one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With regrets, the entrance fee costs an expensive 100MXN pesos and does not allow photo taking. Photos can only taken in the rooftop. However, the guide for the studio is able to speak both English and Spanish, so an important lesson on architecture and design can be experienced by non-Spanish speakers. For example, there is an enclosed space before entering the actual house. This is to prepare the visitor for the visual impact that comes in the actual house itself. The creation of continuous space through the living room is achieved by the use of high ceilings. Partitions are used to separate each part of the room but yet the private garden is still visible throughout. Continuous space, is also an important part in Japanese architecture. Lights , both artificial and natural are used carefully to illuminate the room and the objects. Some of the lightings are created to imitate the imagery of light shining down from the heavens. In addition, different rooms have large windows that face the garden. This will create a different picture for the different rooms. Barragan played with symmetrical patterns and shapes in each of the room which create unity and continuity within the whole house. Barragan's design may be considered minimalistic, but the thought to the design is far from simplistic. He made use of bold colours to draw the viewer's attention to the particular corner of the room. For instance, he would use bold pink behind his own chair in the dining room, so that his friend's attention will be focused on himself and not elsewhere.

The garden is particular interesting. It is not the normal landscape garden with beautiful ponds and flowers. It is a garden left to grow wildly. Large trees are used to separate the house from the streets. Barragan made used of a stone path, in conjunction with the neighbour's trees to create an imagery of a garden that stretches endlessly. But the garden's actual size is much smaller than it looks.

Overall, Barragan's house which was designed for himself to live in, exemplified himself as an egoistic, religious and tall person. He had many relationships but never got married. It is really amazing how one's design of a house can reveal so much about a person.

Barragan's intention of building high walls was to separate the house from the streets. However, some years ago, a house was built on the opposite side of the road that rose tall enough to be seen in this rooftop. To some, it is an insult to Barragan and his house. It was only recently that the Barragan's house came under the protection and conservation laws. But little can be done to the damage done. Along with Barragan's achievements and the arrays of museums, art galleries, talented street musicians and the ancient churches and temples, are just some examples of Mexico's achievement in the cultural and artistic aspects.



Anonymous balex said...

If you are to ask me what has that suzhou, china on the stone got to do with Barragan House, I have no idea.

26/6/07 02:46  
Anonymous dev! said...

the board was MIC.. what's new..

30/6/07 09:05  

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