Architects are often bound by the will of their client, reluctantly sacrificing and compromising design choices in order to suit their needs. But what happens when architects become their own clients? When architects design for themselves, they have the potential to test their ideas freely, explore without creative restriction, and create spaces which wholly define who they are, how they design, and what they stand for. From iconic architect houses like the Gehry Residence in Santa Monica to private houses that double as a public-entry museum, here are 9 fascinating examples of how architects design when they only have themselves to answer to.
Luis Barragan: The Latest Architecture and News
Some architects love color, some are unmoved by it, some hate it, and some love to dismiss it as too whimsical or non-serious for architecture. In an essay on the subject, Timothy Brittain-Catlin mentions the “innate puritanism among clients of architecture,” architects and their “embarrassment of confronting color,” and how “Modernism tried to ‘educate out’ bright colors.” So, while the debate on color in architecture is far from being a new one, it is not finished, and probably never will be.
In today’s world where the exhausted stereotype of the no-nonsense architect clad in black still persists, and while we quietly mull over the strange pull of the Cosmic Latte, there are some architects who haven’t been afraid of using broad swathes of color in their work at all. Read on for a list of 7 such exemplary architects both from the past and the present.
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.
Color, inherited from indigenous cultures of Mexico, is a defining characteristic of Mexican architecture. Vibrant colors have been used by architects and artists such as Luis Barragán, Ricardo Legorreta, Mathias Goeritz, Juan O'Gorman, and Mario Pani.
Color in Mexican architecture has reinforced the identity of different regions and areas within the country. For example, it is almost impossible to think of San Miguel de Allende or Guanajuato without the facade colors that weave the landscape.
In Luis Barragán’s poetic imagination color plays as significant a role as dimension or space. Rough textures and water reflections heighten the impact of bright sunlight in his colorful buildings. But where does such vibrancy come from and how is it heightened by the architecture itself?
One of Mexico's greatest architects, Luis Ramiro Barragán Morfín (March 9, 1902 – November 22, 1988) revolutionized modern architecture in the country with his use of bright colors reminiscent of the traditional architecture of Mexico, and with works such as his Casa Barragán, the Chapel of the Capuchinas, the Torres de Satélite, "Los Clubes" (Cuadra San Cristobal and Fuente de los Amantes), and the Casa Gilardi, among many others.
The Pritzker Prize is the most important award in the field of architecture, awarded to a living architect whose built work "has produced consistent and significant contributions to humanity through the art of architecture." The Prize rewards individuals, not entire offices, as took place in 2000 (when the jury selected Rem Koolhaas instead of his firm OMA) or in 2016 (with Alejandro Aravena selected instead of Elemental); however, the prize can also be awarded to multiple individuals working together, as took place in 2001 (Herzog & de Meuron), 2010 (Kazuyo Sejima and Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA), and 2017 (Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem, and Ramon Vilalta of RCR Arquitectes).
The award is an initiative funded by Jay Pritzker through the Hyatt Foundation, an organization associated with the hotel company of the same name that Jay founded with his brother Donald in 1957. The award was first given in 1979, when the American architect Philip Johnson, was awarded for his iconic works such as the Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut.
The Pritzker Prize has been awarded for almost forty straight years without interruption, and there are now 18 countries with at least one winning architect. To date, half of the winners are European; while the Americas, Asia, and Oceania share the other twenty editions. So far, no African architect has been awarded, making it the only continent without a winner.
Throughout history, there have been certain architects whose unique ideas and innovative styles have influenced generations to come. Some of these pioneers introduced ideas so revolutionary that entirely new words had to be invented to truly encapsulate them. Whether they became a style embraced by an entire era, or captured the imagination of millions for decades to come, we know a Gaudiesque or Corbusian building when we see one.
Here are eight adjectives derived from the works of architects whose names are now in the dictionary:
How many lives does a great work of architecture have? The first begins when it is built and inhabited, judged based on the quality of life it provides for its residents. The second comes generations later when it becomes historically significant and perhaps its original function no longer suits the demands of society. The value of such buildings is that they inform us about the past and for that reason their conservation is necessary.
However, in Latin America, there are countless cases of buildings of great architectural value that are in tragic states of neglect and deterioration. Seven such examples are:
In a somewhat poetic proposal, Jill Magid, the American artist, offered Federica Zano, owner and archivist of the Barragan Foundation in Switzerland, a two-carat diamond ring made from ashes from Barragan’s cremation, in exchange for returning Barragan’s professional archive to Mexico.
This gesture was the pinnacle of an art project that “posed fundamental questions about the consequences and implications of converting cultural legacy into private corporate property.” Magid’s work, titled “A Letter Always Arrives at its Destination,” held an exhibition at the University Museum of Contemporary Art at the UNAM.
Had the worst jury ever? Failed your exams? Worry not! Before you fall on your bed and cry yourself to sleep—after posting a cute, frantic-looking selfie on Instagram, of course (hashtag so dead)—take a look at this list of nine celebrated architects, all of whom share a common trait. You might think that a shiny architecture degree is a requirement to be a successful architect; why else would you put yourself through so many years of architecture school? Well, while the title of "architect" may be protected in many countries, that doesn't mean you can't design amazing architecture—as demonstrated by these nine architects, who threw convention to the wind and took the road less traveled to architectural fame.
There’s no doubt that one of the best things about architecture is its universality. Wherever you come from, whatever you do, however you speak, architecture has somehow touched your life. However, when one unexpectedly has to pronounce a foreign architect’s name... things can get a little tricky. This is especially the case when mispronunciation could end up making you look less knowledgeable than you really are. (If you're really unlucky, it could end up making you look stupid in front of your children and the whole world.)
To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 22 architects with names that are a little difficult to pronounce, and paired them with a recording in which their names are said impeccably. Listen and repeat as many times as it takes to get it right, and you’ll be prepared for any intellectual architectural conversation that comes your way.
The "architectural pilgrimage" is much more than just everyday tourism. Studying and admiring a building through text and images often creates a hunger in architects, thanks to the space between the limitations of 2D representation and the true experience of the building. Seeing a building in person that one has long loved from a distance can become something of a spiritual experience, and architects often plan vacations around favorite or important spaces. But too often, architects become transfixed by a need to visit the same dozen European cities that have come to make up the traveling architect's bucket list.
The list here shares some sites that may not have made your list just yet. Although somewhat less well known than the canonical cities, the architecture of these six cities is sure to hold its ground against the world's best. The locations here make ideal long weekend trips (depending of course on where you are traveling from), although it never hurts to have more than a few days to really become immersed in a city. We have selected a few must-see buildings from each location, but each has even more to offer than what you see here—so don't be afraid to explore!
Wall thickness, color, scale, solar dynamic, spaces built with a subtle metaphor immersed around the meaning of life, seem to be elements found throughout all of Luis Barragán's architecture. Elements of an enduring legacy, away from the ephemeral world of fashion, textiles and haute couture; however, it’s the search for the heightening of the senses, present in the architecture of Barragán, that inspired designers to put the name of the architect on catwalks and the world of apparel.
Transcending his architecture to a particular line of design, major names in the clothing industry have used the mystical language of Barragán. A language in which fashion manages to live a furtive beauty in geometry, color, texture, but especially a totally emotional search.
Check out 10 labels whose collections have been partially inspired by Barragán's work and ideas .
Well-known architects are easy to admire or dismiss from afar, but up close, oddly humanizing habits often come to light. However, while we all have our quirks, most people's humanizing habits don't give an insight into how they became one of the most notable figures in their field of work. The following habits of several top architects reveal parts of their creative process, how they relax, or simply parts of their identity. Some are inspiring and some are surprising, but all give a small insight into the mental qualities that are required to be reach the peak of the architectural profession—from an exceptional work drive to an embrace of eccentricity (and a few more interesting qualities besides).
I want you to let me do all the ideas I still have in my head.
In the latest installment of the In Residence series, NOWNESS visits the last house designed by legendary Mexican architect Luis Barragán, Casa Gilardi. By the time current homeowner Martin Luque and advertising agency partner Pancho Gilardi approached Barragán to ask for a house design in 1975, the architect had already formally retired. He originally declined to take on the project – until he made a visit the site, where he was captivated by a remarkably beautiful jacaranda tree. Changing his mind, Barragán remarked, “Don’t chop down this tree, because the house will be built around it.”
Check out the video to learn the rest of the story behind the masterwork and to see the vibrant house as it stands today.
The Proposal presents the climactic moment within artist Jill Magid's extended, multimedia project The Barragán Archives, which examines the legacy of Mexican architect and Pritzker Prize-winner Luis Barragán (1902–1988). The multi-year project poses piercing, radical, and pragmatic questions about the forms of power, public access, and copyright that construct artistic legacy.
Through this work, Magid asks, “What happens to an artist’s legacy when it is owned by a corporation and subject to a country’s laws where none of his architecture exists? Who can access it? Who can’t?”
In his will, Barragán split his archive into two parts. Along with the vast majority