Luis Barragan. The Eye Embodied
Out of Print, no reprint
Wim van den Bergh, Kim Zwarts
Pale Pink Publisher, Maastricht, 2006
out of print
Barragán is now regarded as one of the most important architects of the 20th century. His buildings are renowned for their mastery of space and light, but Barragán was equally influential as a landscape architect and urban planner. Cited as an inspiration by a succession of other Pritzker winners – from Tadao Ando and Frank Gehry, to Rem Koolhaas – he is one of the handful of architects who succeeded in creating their own version of modernism by imbuing it with the warmth and vibrance of his native Mexico.
Barragán transformed the International Style into a vibrant, sensuous Mexican aesthetic by adding vivid colours and textural contrasts and accentuating his buildings’ natural surroundings. He once said that light and water were his favourite themes, and soon became skilled at manipulating them both in buildings like the 1966 Folke Egerstrom House and Stables built around a brightly coloured, sculptural sequence of horse pools (Barragán loved horse riding) and the 1975-77 Francisco Gilardi House framing an indoor pool.
As a landscape architect, Barragán was heavily influenced by Ferdinand Bac’s writing. Much of his work in Mexico City during the 1940s involved garden design. Like Roberto Burle Marx, the famed Brazilian landscape architect, Barragán developed a distinctive approach to working within a modernist vocabulary while enhancing the local foliage and terrain of Mexico.