- (1902-1988)The modernist Mexican architect Luis Barragán is best known for his infusion of vernacular color and regional elements into an International style formula. Born in Guadalajara, Barragán traveled through Europe after receiving an engineering degree in his hometown. Deeply influenced by the Moorish gardens of southern Spain as well as the spare geometric architecture of Le Corbusier, Barragán returned to Mexico to develop a unique modern idiom that incorporated a deep interest in nature, spiritual elements, and regional characteristics such as thick walls and bright colors. Barragán was also influenced by the theoretical architect Frederick Kiesler, who worked in theater design and promoted a more organic, surrealist style, as well as by Mathias Goeritz, who trained in the Arts and Crafts movement in Berlin before accepting a position at the School of Architecture in Guadalajara in 1949. Goeritz's manifesto on emotional architecture from 1952 infused art and urban planning with an expressive and spiritual context that he found lacking in the prevailing International style.Barragán returned to Mexico the same year as Goeritz's manifesto, and in 1954 he received a commission for the renovation of a convent and construction of an adjoining chapel in Tlalpan, outside Mexico City. The chapel is built from concrete as a yellow rectangular room with two light sources. One window at the back of the chapel directs a stream of light into the congregational space, while a hidden second window illuminates a slim orange crucifix located at the altar's right side. The crucifix then casts a shadow directly on the altar, providing a subtle spiritual message. A wood floor warms the stark interior, while the roughly textured walls create a rich quality to the otherwise spare interior. The enclosed space of the Tlalpan Chapel provides an emotional environment formed from light and color that is both universal and regional. In 1958, Barragán and Goeritz collaborated on their best-known work, the Ciudad Satélite (Satellite City), which consists of five triangular concrete towers that recall Ancient Egyptian temple pylons. These brightly colored monuments are built at a busy intersection in Mexico City and provide an unusual and dramatic focal point to an otherwise crowded and monochromatic urban context. Barragán's work is limited to a region of Mexico, and therefore he did not initially receive much international acclaim, but in 1980 he was awarded the prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize. Certainly future scholars will better understand Barragán's work and the role he played in anticipating the regional focus found in the current architectural style called Critical Regionalism.
Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. Allison Lee Palmer. 2008.
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Barragán, Luis — ▪ Mexican architect born March 9, 1902, Guadalajara, Mexico died November 22, 1988, Mexico City Mexican engineer and architect, whose serene and evocative houses, gardens, plazas, and fountains won him the Pritzker Prize in 1980.… … Universalium
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