On November 22, 1988, one of the most important and revered figures in the history of Mexican and international architecture died in Mexico City. Luis Barragán Morfín, born in Guadalajara and trained as a civil engineer left behind an extensive legacy of published works, conferences, buildings, houses, and gardens that remain relevant to this day. While Barragán was known for his far-reaching research in customs and traditions, above all, the architect spent his life in contemplation. His sensitivity to the world and continued effort to rewrite the mundane has made him a lasting figure in Mexico, and the world.
Undoubtedly, Luis Barragán's legacy represents something so complex and timeless that it continues to inspire and surprise architects across generations. It is because of this that, 30 years after his death, we've compiled this series of testimonies from some of Mexico's most prominent contemporary architects, allowing them to reflect on their favorites of Barragan's works and share just how his work has impacted and inspired theirs.
Emily Rauh Pulitzer, curator of the St. Louis Museum of Art and Steve Trampe of Owen Development, are spearheading a plan to transform a block near St. Louis's theater and museum district in the area of Grand Center. This project, (according to a story published on a local news site in St. Louis) is "a blank palette” and "an opportunity to take an entire block and make it different.”
The project is currently led by local architects Axi: Ome. Tatiana Bilbao has also confirmed her participation, in what should be an interesting addition to St. Louis's local architectural heritage. In an interview with Vladimir Belogolovsky, she explained that she considers that the legacy of Mexican architecture should expand to other sites:
As part of a generation of designers that have, in recent years, put Mexico on the map, Tatiana Bilbao is an architect that is increasingly part of the profession’s global consciousness. But, while some Mexican architects have made their mark with spectacular architecture following the international trend of “iconic” architecture, Bilbao opted instead for a more people-focused approach. In this interview, the latest in Vladimir Belogolovsky’s “City of Ideas” series, Bilbao explains how she got into this type of community-building architecture, her thoughts on architectural form, and her ambitions for the future.
Vladimir Belogolovsky:The more I talk to architects of your generation or my generation, the more it becomes apparent that architecture has absolutely no boundaries. In other words, architecture is not just about buildings. More and more, architecture is about building communities.
Tatiana Bilbao: Absolutely. For me, that is the most important part of architecture. Architecture is not about building a building; architecture is about building a community.
In the second film from this year's series of PLANE—SITE's Time-Space-Existence videos, Mexican architect Tatiana Bilbao shares her philosophy of how architecture should be designed with the user’s experience in mind, rather than for standalone aesthetic qualities. In the video she discusses how architects should to some extent let go of their artistic intentions for a more practical approach to serve the needs of people, discussing how architecture has become detached from its key purpose over the last fifty years due to the influence of capitalism.
In Baja California, Mexico, the 860 hectares that make up 'Cuatro Cuatros'—a tourism development that for the past ten years has been overseen and designed by Mauricio Rocha and Gabriela Carrillo of Taller de Arquitectura—present an arid and mostly monochromatic landscape interrupted only by stones and bushland.
Vast as the site may seem, only 360 of its hectares will be destined for housing development, of which only 10% can be impacted by construction. The challenge will lay in mitigating the protagonistic stance architecture usually assumes when conquering previously untouched lands, by taking on a presence that disappears into the landscape.
What becomes of public space once violence is normalized in a city? Though it is naive to believe that architecture by itself can present absolute solutions to complex social and political issues, it is also important to explore and understand its possibilities as an agent of social change, however small.
Centered on the theme “The State of the Art of Architecture,” the Chicago Architecture Biennial offers a look at the issues surrounding contemporary architecture around the globe. Featuring interventions from over 100 different architects from more than 30 different countries, the Biennial seeks to “demonstrate that architecture matters at any scale.”
Tatiana Bilbao’s project for the Chicago Biennial offers a solution to Mexico's affordable housing shortage. Her full-scale, Sustainable Housing prototype offers a flexible design that can respond to the different needs of each family. The house can be constructed for as little as $8,000 and up to $14,000 depending on a variety of factors including the location, the construction phase selected, and local regulations.
View images and learn more about her prototype after the break.
The simple concrete-hewn structures designed by Tatiana Bilbao acknowledge their context in a way that most buildings don't. In a recent interview with uncube Magazine, Bilbao explains how her outlook on design shifted after she realized that "the quality of architecture relies heavily on the people who build it and what techniques and materials they are used to." And it seems this novel approach hasn't gone unnoticed - she recently showed her work at Berlin's Architekturgalerie and is on a star-studded shortlist to design the Menil Drawing Institute. Read the full interview here.
Looking back at the Easter Pilgrimage 2011 at Ruta del Peregrino, the most important event of the year, we are pleased to announce the final step of the second construction phase (you can check the complete project over here).
This year, for the first time, the pilgrims were able to use the finished viewpoint by HHF Architects, offering a new way to experience the site.
The sanctuary by Tatiana Bilbao and the viewpoint by Christ&Gantenbein are under construction; their presence will mark the completion of the entire Ruta within a few months.
All images by Iwan Baan and you can check his website for the full coverage.