Luis Barragán

Last updated
Luis Barragán
Luis Barragan.jpg
Barragán in 1960s.
Born(1902-03-09)March 9, 1902
DiedNovember 22, 1988 (aged 86)
Mexico City, Mexico
AwardsPritzker Prize
Buildings Torres de Satélite

Luis Ramiro Barragán Morfín (March 9, 1902 – November 22, 1988) was a Mexican architect and engineer. His work has influenced contemporary architects visually and conceptually. [1] Barragán's buildings are frequently visited by international students and professors of architecture. He studied as an engineer in his home town, while undertaking the entirety of additional coursework to obtain the title of architect. [2]


Barragán won the Pritzker Prize, the highest award in architecture, in 1980, and his personal home, the Luis Barragán House and Studio, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004.

Early life

Barragán was born in Guadalajara in Jalisco, Mexico. Educated as an engineer, he graduated from the Escuela Libre de Ingenieros in Guadalajara in 1923. After graduation, he traveled through Spain and France. While in France he became aware of the writings of Ferdinand Bac, a German-French writer, designer and artist who Barragán cited throughout his life. [3] In 1931, he again traveled to France with a long stop-over in New York. In this trip he met Mexican mural painter José Clemente Orozco, architectural magazine editors, and Frederick Kiesler. In France he briefly met Le Corbusier and finally visited the gardens realized by Ferdinand Bac. He practiced architecture in Guadalajara from 1927–1936, and in Mexico City thereafter.


Luis Barragan and Jose Luis Hernandez Mendoza JLHernandezMendoza-LuisBarragan 1981.JPG
Luis Barragán and José Luis Hernández Mendoza

His Guadalajara work includes over a dozen private homes in the Colonia Americana area of what is today near downtown Guadalajara. These homes, within walking distance of each other, include Barragán's earliest residential projects. One of his first buildings, Casa Cristo, was restored and houses the state's Architects' Guild.

Major projects

In 1945 he started planning the residential development of Jardines del Pedregal, Mexico City. In 1947 he built his own house and studio in Tacubaya and in 1955 he rebuilt the Convento de las Capuchinas Sacramentarias in Tlalpan, Mexico City, and the plan for Jardines del Bosque in Guadalajara. In 1957 he planned Torres de Satélite (an urban sculpture created in collaboration with sculptor Mathias Goeritz) and an exclusive residential area, Las Arboledas, a few kilometers away from Ciudad Satélite. In 1964 he designed, alongside architect Juan Sordo Madaleno, the Lomas Verdes residential area, also near the Satélite area, in the municipality of Naucalpan, Estado de México. In 1967 he created one of his best-known works, the San Cristóbal Estates equestrian development in Mexico City.

Barragán and the Modernist movement

Faro de Comercio Faro de Comercio.jpg
Faro de Comercio

Barragán visited Le Corbusier and became influenced by European modernism. The buildings he produced in the years after his return to Mexico show the typical clean lines of the Modernist movement. Nonetheless, according to Andrés Casillas (who worked with Barragán), he eventually became entirely convinced that the house should not be "a machine for living." Opposed to functionalism, Barragán strove for an "emotional architecture" claiming that "any work of architecture which does not express serenity is a mistake." Barragán used raw materials such as stone or wood. He combined them with an original and dramatic use of light, both natural and artificial; his preference for hidden light sources gives his interiors a particularly subtle and lyrical atmosphere.


Barragán worked for years with little acknowledgement or praise until 1975 when he was honored with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In 1980, he became the second winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize. His house and studio, built in 1948 in Mexico City, were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2004.


Torres de Satelite, Mexico City (1957-58), in collaboration with Mathias Goeritz Satelite Towers and Anillo Periferico BMAC.jpg
Torres de Satélite, Mexico City (1957–58), in collaboration with Mathias Goeritz

The work of Luis Barragán is often (and misleadingly) quoted in reference to minimalist architecture. John Pawson, in his book Minimum, includes images from some of Barragán's projects. Most architects who do minimalistic architecture do not use color, but the ideas of forms and spaces which Barragán pioneered are still there.[ citation needed ] There have been several essays written by the Pritzker Prize recipient Alvaro Siza in prefaces to books that make reference to the ideas of Barragán.[ citation needed ]

Louis Kahn informally consulted Barragán on the space between the buildings of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. [4] According to the documents, Kahn's original idea was to place a garden between the buildings; however, Barragán suggested that an open plaza, with only a water feature in between, would better reflect the spirit of the location. This area, possibly designed with Barragán's advice in mind, is arguably the most impressive aspect of the building complex. He was a highly recognized consultor by many Mexican and International architects on landscape design, as he had a particular ability to envision the outdoor spaces and their relation to their interior paradigms and the natural context characteristics.

Barragán's influence can be seen in the work of many of Mexico's contemporary architects, especially in Ricardo Legorreta's projects. One of the projects, where Barragán's concepts and colors inspired Legorreta, is the Hotel Camino Real in Polanco, Mexico City. This project reflects the importance of the native culture and its intersection with an elegant modern design.


Barragán died at the age of eighty-six in Mexico City. In his will, he designated three people to manage his legacy: Ignacio Díaz Morales, Óscar González González, and Raúl Ferrera. [5] Ignacio Díaz Morales, a friend and fellow architect, was bequeathed Barragán's library. He was tasked with choosing an institution suitable for receiving the book collection. Óscar Ignacio González, a childhood friend, received Barragán's personal objects. Raúl Ferrera, his business partner, received the archives and the copyright to the work. Díaz Morales established the Fundación de Arquitectura Tapatía, a private foundation managed by the Casa Barragán, in co-ownership with the Government of the State of Jalisco. The house is now a museum which celebrates Barragán and serves as a conduit between scholars and architects interested in visiting other Barragán buildings in Mexico. [6] UNESCO added the Casa Luis Barragán to its World Heritage List in 2004. [7]

Following Raúl Ferrera's passing away in 1993, the archives and related copyright became the property of Mrs Ferrera's widows who, after having unsuccessfully tried to find a collector or institution willing to keep these in Mexico, decided to sell them to the Max Protetch Gallery in New York. The documents were offered to a number of prospective clients, among them the Vitra Design Museum, [8] which in 1994 was planning an exhibition dedicated to Luis Barragán. Following the Vitra [9] company's policy of collecting objects and archives of design and architecture, the archives were finally acquired in their entirety and transferred to the Barragán Foundation in Switzerland.

The Barragan Foundation [10] is a not-for-profit institution based in Birsfelden, Switzerland. Since 1996, it manages the archives of Luis Barragán, and in 1997 acquired the negatives of the photographer Armando Salas Portugal documenting Barragán's work. The Foundation's mission is to spread the knowledge on Luis Barragán's cultural legacy by means of preserving and studying his archives and related historical sources, producing publications and exhibitions, providing expertise and assistance to further institutions and scholarly researches. The Barragán Foundation owns complete rights to the work of Luis Barragán and to the related photos by Armando Salas Portugal.

Important works

House for the architect / Barragan House Planta baja-he.jpg
House for the architect / Barragán House

All finished projects by Barragán are located in Mexico.

Luis Barragán House and Studio

Luis Barragán set up his studio in Mexico City, the building is currently a museum, but with tours available only by appointment. The building is from 1948 reflecting Barragán's preferred style, where he lived his whole life. Today is owned by Jalisco and the Arquitectura Tapatía Luis Barragán Foundation. The site became World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004. [11]

In Tite Kubo's manga series Bleach, the character Baraggan Louisenbarn is named after Luis Barragán.

Further reading

Related Research Articles

The year 1958 in architecture involved some significant architectural events and new buildings.

Álvaro Siza Vieira Portuguese architect

Álvaro Joaquim de Melo Siza Vieira, GOSE, GCIH, GCIP, is a Portuguese architect, and architectural educator. He is internationally known as Álvaro Siza and in Portugal as Siza Vieira.

Naucalpan City & Municipality in State of Mexico ----, Mexico

Naucalpan, officially Naucalpan de Juárez, is a city and municipality located just northwest of Mexico City in the adjoining State of Mexico.

Ricardo Legorreta Vilchis was a Mexican architect. He was a prolific designer of private houses, public buildings and master plans in Mexico, the United States of America and some other countries.

Torres de Satélite

The Torres de Satélite are a group of sculptures located in the Ciudad Satélite district of Naucalpan, Mexico State, Mexico outside of Mexico City. One of the country's first urban sculptures of great dimensions, had its planning started in 1957 with the ideas of renowned Mexican architect Luis Barragán, painter Jesús Reyes Ferreira and sculptor Mathias Goeritz. The project was originally planned to be composed of seven towers, with the tallest one reaching a height of 200 meters, but a budget reduction forced the design to be composed of only five towers, with the tallest measuring 52 meters (170 feet) and the shortest 30 meters (98 feet).

Max Ludwig Cetto was a German-Mexican architect, historian of architecture, and professor.

Mathias Goeritz

Werner Mathias Goeritz Brunner was a well-known Mexican painter and sculptor of German origin. After spending much of the 1940s in North Africa and Spain, Goeritz and his wife, photographer Marianne Gast, immigrated to Mexico in 1949.

Jardines del Pedregal or simply El Pedregal is an upscale residential colonia (neighborhood) in southern Mexico City hosting some of the richest families of Mexico. It is also known as the home to the biggest mansion in the city. It borders are San Jerónimo Avenue and Ciudad Universitaria at the north, Insurgentes Avenue at the east and Periférico at south and west. Its 1,250 acres (5.1 km2) were the major real estate project undertaken by Mexican modernist architect Luis Barragán.

Ciudad Satélite Neighborhood in Naucalpan de Juárez, State of Mexico, Mexico

Ciudad Satélite, commonly known as Satélite, is a Greater Mexico City upper middle class suburban area located in Naucalpan, State of Mexico. Officially, the name corresponds exclusively to the homonym neighborhood, Ciudad Satélite, founded circa 1957. With time, the area surrounding it, including upper-class neighborhoods like Lomas Verdes, Echegaray, Paseos del Bosque or Colonial Satélite, alongside adjacent municipalities Atizapán de Zaragoza and Tlalnepantla de Baz, have become collectively known as "Satélite", due to its prominence as both an economically and socially dynamic area.

The colonia of Jardines del Bosque is located in the western section of the city of Guadalajara,in the state of Jalisco, Mexico.

Luis Barragán House and Studio Mexico City cultural institution

Luis Barragán House and Studio, also known as Casa Luis Barragán, is the former residence of architect Luis Barragán in Miguel Hidalgo district, Mexico City. It is owned by the Fundación de Arquitectura Tapatía and the Government of the State of Jalisco. It is now a museum exhibiting Barragán's work and is also used by visiting architects. It retains the original furniture and Barragán's personal objects. These include a mostly Mexican art collection spanning the 16th to 20th century, with works by Picasso, Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, Jesús Reyes Ferreira and Miguel Covarrubias.

Andrés Casillas de Alba is a Mexican architect.

Aurelio Nuño Morales is a Mexican architect.

Jesús Reyes Ferreira, (1880-1977) born José de Jesús Benjamín Buenaventura de los Reyes y Ferreira and also known as Chucho Reyes, was a self-taught artist and antiques/art collector and vendor. Reyes Ferreira began painting on crêpe paper, a delicate material not meant to last, as a way of decorating paper meant to wrap sales from his antiques/art store. The decorated paper became popular enough to be sold on its own. Although he began this activity in Guadalajara, he did not produce the bulk of his work until after he moved to Mexico City when he was 58 years old. Here he continued collecting and selling objects such as colonial art and Mexican handcrafts and folk art, being one of the early exponents for the appreciation of these objects. He also spent several hours a day painting. His work was first exhibited in 1950 with his first individual exhibition in 1967 at the Palacio de Bellas Artes after a half century of painting. As a self-taught painter, his works are relatively simple and often are dismissed as folk painting but they were and his aesthetics were praised by famous artists and architects at the time.

Alejandro Aravena

Alejandro Gastón Aravena Mori is a Chilean architect and executive director of the firm Elemental S.A. He won the Pritzker Architecture Prize in 2016, and also, he was the director and curator of the Architecture Section of the 2016 Venice Biennale.

Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura

Located in Mexico City, Archivo Diseño y Arquitectura is a space dedicated to exhibiting, researching and rethinking design in its many forms and outlets. Founded by Mexican architect Fernando Romero and his wife Soumaya Slim in 2012, Archivo houses two collections: a design collection of over 1,500 objects, both international and of Mexican origin, and the personal library of the well-known Mexican modernist architect, Enrique del Moral.

Fernando González Gortázar

Fernando González Gortázar is a Mexican architect, sculptor and writer, considered to be one of the most influential Mexican architects of the 20th century.

Ruth Rivera Marín

Ruth Rivera Marín was a Mexican architect. Her professional experience centered on teaching, institutional management, theory and practice related to architecture. She was the first woman student of the College of Engineering and Architecture at the National Polytechnic Institute.

Jose Manuel Gomez Vazquez Aldana

Jose Manuel Gomez Vazquez Aldana is a Mexican architect with a long career and international recognition. Creator of residential projects and monumental works in the United States and Latin America is founder of the international architecture studio "Gomez Vazquez International".

Museo Experimental El Eco Art gallery in Mexico City

The Museo Experimental El Eco is a contemporary art gallery in the centre of Mexico City, Mexico. It was designed by sculptor Mathias Goeritz, a Mexican artist of German origin who worked closely with the Mexican architect Luis Barragán. Originally built in 1952–53, the gallery was extended by FR-EE/Fernando Romero Enterprise in 2007 "to expand its offices and special services to improve daily operations".


  1. Estelle Jackson, "Luis Barragán Morfin," in Encyclopedia of Latin American History and Culture , vol. 2, pp. 293-94. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons 1996.
  2. Barragán, Luis (2000). Escritos y conversaciones. MADRID: El Croquis. pp. 72–89. ISBN   84-88386-17-6.
  3. Tim Street-Porter, Casa Mexicana Stewart, Tabori & Chang (1989) ISBN   1-55670-097-0
  4. "Salk Institute by Louis I. Kahn". Archived from the original on September 1, 2000. Retrieved 2013-08-17.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. Morales-Casas, Gabriella (2017-06-01). " - Connecting People Through News". Retrieved 2018-10-09.
  6. Casa Luis Barragán website Archived 2010-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  7. List of Mexican Properties on the World Heritage List
  8. Vitra Design Museum
  9. Vitra
  10. Barragan Foundation
  11. "Casa Luis Barragán website". Archived from the original on 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2015-08-17.