‘Any work of architecture that does not express serenity is a mistake’ – Luis Barragán, a Pritzker Prize winner said in 1980 Laureate acceptance speech.
Who was Luis Barragán?
Recognized by the Pritzker Jury for his pledge to design as a sublime demonstration of the extraordinary poetic imagination, Luis Ramiro Barragán Morf n was born and raised in Guadalajara, Mexico. Being an engineer, he was inspired by architecture and traveled to Europe and North Africa. After gaining inspiration from Mies van der Rohe’s german structure and Le Corbusier lectures that he attended in Paris, he encountered the new design of the Bauhaus Group and Le Corbusier and in the wake of coming back to Mexico, Barragán opened his architecture practice in Guadalajara, Mexico City in 1937. There he built up his particular and empathetic style which has come to characterize the world’s vision of a cutting edge Mexico – Mexican pioneer development a certain rebellion against the possibility that advanced structures ought to consistently be white and outward-looking. He started to consider new techniques by which he could make what he called an ’emotional architecture’, one that would empower reflection and quietude.
What was Barragán’s Design Philosophy?
Barragán had consistently tried to create an architectural language that would communicate man’s endless longings with regards to present-day Mexico’s natural, social, and cultural conditions. At the point when he came back from his long explorative excursion, Barragán understood his nation was in edgy requirements of a unique structural character, looking in reverse to the convention of Mexico’s mainstream society adapting the Spanish pioneer style, or completely grasping Europe’s modernism. Consequently, shunning the utilization of basic Mexican structural forms, the character of his designs resulted from its congruence with Mexico’s mind-blowing design customs. Barragán recognized his affection for and his aesthetic obligation to the mainstream architecture of Mexico’s ranches, towns, and religious structures.
Hence, his design of the complex Cuadra San Cristóbal responds to Mexico’s physical milieu with level planes, minimal geometric lines, however, mollified by pink and earth-tone walls, Moorish themes, surface, water, and light to bring out a feeling of serenity. The wall in Cuadra San Cristobal is both the incomparable substance and the occupant of a larger metaphysical landscape; in the settings the architect created; it is at once a screen for uncovering the shades of Mexico’s practically white sun, and a shield to propose inconspicuous existences.
Barragán’s “Equestrian Trilogy”: Cuadra San Cristóbal
At Cuadra San Cristóbal, the water feature serves three purposes: as a drinking fountain for horses, as a reflection pond, and as a swimming pool for horses
Cuadra San Cristóbal is a piece of the Los Cubles venture, which additionally incorporates the Egerstrom House and the Fountain of Lovers and was created for the Folke Egerström family. It is situated on the road Manantial East 20, Atizapan, a northern suburb of Mexico City. This structure that Luis Barragán, as a team with Andrés Casillas, designed in 1966 and was built between 1967-1968, is an equestrian and private complex that comprises of a house and a complex of horse shelters, and a ground for reproducing and training of thoroughbreds.
Fun Fact: “Horses, Catholic practices and beliefs (religion), and architecture were Barragán’s three interests, and Cuadra San Cristóbal is the main property that incorporates every one of the three”.
The spaces of this project are all about regional symbolism through emotions, geometric abstracts, and calculative movements.
The area has gotten most outwardly renowned for its specific courtyard, a blend of sweeping geometric volumes in earth tones and pink tints. The structures appear to uncover the propensity of Barragán to make spaces with no specific order, yet brimming with feeling and poetry. The garden is deliberately left unmanicured. Nature is joined all through the entirety of his work and scenes were regularly structured by the draftsman himself.
Exterior view of the estate from the street.
From the road, the long white façade step by step retreats towards a patio with an enormous wooden door, before a wall with metal letters saying ‘Cuadra San Cristóbal’.
The main gate to enter the Cuadra San Cristóbal. (view from the inside)
The principal perspective on the Cuadra San Cristóbal catches the delightful tangible experience that is the craft of Barragán. Once inside, you are welcomed by a jacaranda and a site that looks tranquil.
Entrance to the living spaces
On one side is the entrance lobby which leads the visitor to the kitchen that is connected to servant’s quarters through a different flight of stairs. The stupendous flight of stairs, noticeable in the lobby, proceeds to a guest room and the library, all arranged over the living areas underneath. A hallway, to arrive at these living zones from the lobby, opens to one side revealing, through a gigantic window, a sublime perspective on the purple entryway arranged in the far separation between the two opposite pink walls that characterize the northwestern corner of the plaza for the horses.
The passageway from the living area to the studio.
Moving along further into the living spaces, there is a section to the lounge area and somewhat further additionally the passageway to a studio. This studio can likewise be reached from outside using a trip of three stages obvious as of now from the passage yard the second one has entered the complex which would lead the guest into a patio cut into the white volume of the house.
The pathway from the entrance of the estate to the equestrian area.
In the wake of going through the front entryway – the complex’s patio is paved with brownish basalt lava tiles, which is to one side and offers access to the kids’ wing and the more private spaces overseeing the encased garden and fountain and on the other side draws us straight to the surface of the water the group of trees and the pink wall, all visible at a distance between the opening left free by the white walls of the house and the red walls of the stables. The space around the fountain which is specifically for the horses is characterized by a long, five-meter high longitudinal pink divider and an eight-meter-high transversal pink wall with two profound cuts.
One of the most striking features of Cuadra San Cristóbal is the presence of water
The view ahead edges the quietness of the space, improved by the sound of the fountain – a thick stream of water rambled in a curve which is the focal point of the entire domain. Water is included in most of Barragán’s work as a sensory element. The fountain and an enormous pool in Cuadra San Cristóbal act as a sound barrier, a cooling component in the warmth of Mexico, and a spot for reflection.
The landscape is built into the architecture and the architecture itself turns into the landscape. The landscape doesn’t complement the architecture but rather is the architecture.
Nature is inculcated into this and other of Barragán’s plan with a water feature – in this design the running water fountain and an unmanicured garden which is a part of Cuadra San Cristóbal too. The garden incorporates an encircled passage of greenery around, heading a wooden table for one. It is a spot for contemplation and isolation.
The stables with their surrounding walls in pink and magenta, receding towards the pool basin.
Pool basin. The water would touch the belly of the horse in the fountain’s deepest area.
The walls are designed to the scale of a horse. The stone paving in front of the box stalls ramps down gently to create the pool’s basin. The pool is fed by water gushing through an edge of the red-rust colored wall.
The inner walls of the stable aren’t concrete and dividing and don’t reach the ceiling, They are designed so that the horses can communicate with each other.
This wall also serves to shield visually the stable wing from one of the entrance doors. Barragan manages, with this one wall, to introduce with lyric effortless ness two aspects of high ritual: the suggestion of space beyond, and, even more, magically, transubstantiation.
The Egerstrom house is Barragan’s most complex creation – a multi-layered series of planes of different height creating a house and a plaza with horses, trees, and the water.
Is Cuadra San Cristóbal a symbol of Serenity?
The unprecedented emotional impact of Barragán’s structures and the solid erotic characteristics of his materials and hues cannot be speculated from his drawings or plans. The architectural extravagance of Barragán’s drastically calm architecture depends on a couple of productive components bound together by an otherworldly inclination, a severity lifted by the greatness of his splendid colors. Paint according to him, has been like a piece of clothing the walls puts on to identify with their environmental factors. Intimately bound to Barragan’s sensitivity and love for colors is his animistic inclination for the matter. In his work, the wall is expected to have skin and a core; it inhales and palpitates, similar to a creature, in this design of a horse.
If the wall is punctured, the wedge transforms into a nozzle through which the wall gradually dribbles – a fountain.
Barragán’s walls have different sides. One, open and direct, which the visitor faces. The other, covered in shadows and no one but horses can stroll through the narrow and enormous wall openings. The man may just channel through the wall planes. The exemptions are youngsters and riders.
Barragán’s aesthetical inclinations and the monumental sense of his structures have, once in a while, been seen as scenographic and socially uncertain. But his interests, while taking care of their obligations to work, go past the prerequisites of a program of utilitarian needs to fulfill the necessities. In a culture depleted and unsalvageable divided, the walls encompassing Barragan’s garden in Cuadra San Cristóbal are, maybe, one of the last guards to safeguard centuries of thought, peaceful silence, and emotion. Barragan’s calming design on Cuadra San Cristóbal is a symbol of serenity and tranquility.
What are the recent developments in Cuadra San Cristóbal ?
In recent years the Cuadra San Cristóbal has been the site of contemporary art installations and fashion advertising campaigns. With that exposure has come revived interest, and the owners have graciously opened its gates to increasing numbers of visitors. Amongst the people, it is most famous for its courtyard – a design of sweeping geometric volumes in earth tones and pink hues which is now a modernist ranch that hosts the contemporary artwork. Although the spatial layout in the structure and the curator dictates and sets a context for the artists and architects, they share a common inspiration and that is Mexico itself.
These contemporary art installations create a visual dialogue between the artist’s “emotional abstraction” and the architect’s phenomenal “emotional architecture” enhancing the beauty of Luis Barragán’s masterpiece, Cuadra San Cristóbal.