In the heart of Mexico City, amidst a vibrant cityscape, stands a modernist gem from the 1970s that continues to captivate architects and design enthusiasts alike - Casa Gilardi. Designed by Luis Barragán, a leading figure in modernist architecture and the only Mexican to win the Pritzker Prize, the house is a testament to Barragán's innovative approach to space, light, and most notably, color.
Commissioned by the owners of an advertising agency, Pancho Gilardi and Martin Luque, Casa Gilardi is an intriguing blend of private residence and creative exploration. Perhaps the most distinctive feature of the house is the architect's decision to construct it around an existing jacaranda tree. This old tree, located at the center of the plot, became the focal point of an internal courtyard, perfectly embodying Barragán's philosophy of harmony between architecture and nature.
Separating the main living spaces from the private areas, this internal courtyard not only provides a visual focal point but also serves as a calming, meditative space, offering a respite from the bustle of city life.
Color plays a crucial role in defining Casa Gilardi's aesthetic, as it does in many of Barragán's works. The bold color palette is inspired by the vibrant paintings of Jesus Reyes Ferreira, a fellow Mexican and a key influence on Barragán's approach to color. These hues, so vivid that they need to be refreshed every few years to prevent fading, infuse the house with a sense of vitality and dynamism. From the deep blue that adorns the pool area to the brilliant pink of the dining room walls, every room is an exploration of color's emotional impact.
Barragán's use of color is not merely decorative. Instead, it serves to create atmosphere, manipulate perception, and engage with the country's cultural and historical context. The color palette, much like the jacaranda tree around which the house is built, roots the building firmly in its Mexican context.
Casa Gilardi is a celebration of modernist principles, a perfect integration of indoor and outdoor spaces, and a spectacular display of the power of color in architecture. More than four decades after its construction, it continues to inspire with its audacious use of color, its respect for nature, and its unorthodox spatial composition. It is not only a house but a remarkable work of art that exemplifies Luis Barragán's enduring architectural legacy.