“Architecture is an art when one consciously or unconsciously creates aesthetic emotion in the atmosphere and when this environment produces well-being.”

                                                                                                                                        -Luis Barragan 

A Mexican engineer and Architect, Luis Barragan is a 1980 Pritzker prize winner, with a list of exceptional and notable works of architecture after his return from Europe, and meeting Bac and Le Corbusier which hugely impacted his designing style and ideologies hence creating structures known as “Emotional Architecture”. Barragan believed that every house is refuge hence it needs to be an emotional piece rather than a cold piece of inconvenience. With consistent use of color in his work of architecture he tried generating emotions and creating memorable experiences for the users inside their residence, with simple surfaces and natural sitting, he even used water as one the features in his architecture to create calmness.

Galvez’s house built in 1954-55 in San Angel, Mexico is one of the famous architecture projects by Luis Barragan that highlights the designing style of the architect and his ideologies when designing a residential project. The House is a private residence of Antonio Galvez which is still in use by his daughter. Through the construction of this Barragan introduced modern buildings in traditional Mexico, made with local materials to create comfortable indoors.

Galvez House by Luis Barragan: Modernism in traditional Mexico - Sheet1
Galvez house ©wikiarquitectura
Galvez House by Luis Barragan: Modernism in traditional Mexico - Sheet2
Galvez house ©wikiarquitectura

The entire house is divided into three levels with a terrace covering an area up to 10.8 x 16.3 meters. The space inside the house is defined by a series of internal passages composed of an architectural element that connects and breaks the space through angle placement of the wall creating an interplay of light that produces bright and dark areas inside the house fabricating intimacy in the space. These passages even multiply the space and sometimes hide it for visual privacy while exposing some for visual perception. Following his typical style to create a transitory space from the street to a private area, Barragan used two white walls leading to an offset pink-colored hallway which represents the foyer and is the access to the residence. with a double-height living room dominated through a large window viewing the pond surrounded with pink walls, the architect created a striking play of light through water and color inside the house. Barragan also designed some of the furniture of the living room and the house with Mexican colors. Barragan always tried creating a scene through the play of architectural elements and light, he divided the living room into two through a single wall and planted a tree viewing from the other room surrounded by a blue wall to generate two different emotions and still be connected to both of it. huge terracotta vases are placed in the courtyards displaying Mexican characteristic has become a part of the architecture   

Barragan said “I don’t divide architecture, landscape, and gardening; to me, they are one.”, and the Galvez house displays a perfect interaction between the landscape and the interiors with a rear and interior patio consisting of varying vegetation all around and use of different textures and color to generate emotions. The courtyard inside the house consists of large trees combined with ponds that play with the reflection on the glass door of the room. The rising slope of the land in the courtyard, the silhouettes of trees have constant visual change as you walk through paved paths and stairs. 

Galvez House by Luis Barragan: Modernism in traditional Mexico - Sheet3
Galvez house ©wikiarquitectura
Galvez House by Luis Barragan: Modernism in traditional Mexico - Sheet4
Galvez house ©wikiarquitectura
Galvez House by Luis Barragan: Modernism in traditional Mexico - Sheet5
Galvez house ©wikiarquitectura

Barragan has used walls as a repeating architectural element to create an experience of emotions inside the residence. With stucco and color, he added a Mexican touch to the modern use of flat walls. The walls create warmth and intimacy and insulate the space from the streets with an added feature of water to generate music inside the silenced space. Barragan had an objection to the use of glass as the walls for the residence as it omits the sense of privacy due to which the user does not find refuge inside their house hence he only uses the glass in windows that overlook the courtyards on the interior gardens. Barragan had provided the flooring a character of its own by using different materials: the outer stairs are covered in gravel compared to the old cobbled streets, the garden has use of wooden floor decks with enough space for the vegetation to grow, some parts of the gardens are also covered in volcanic rocks with rooms covered in wooden panels. the house is an exceptional work of architecture that displays the play of light triggering emotions for the user and making it all memorable.






Areeba Rizwan is currently pursuing her Bachelors in Architecture. She is a travel enthusiast with an interest in learning about architecture through different mediums.An avid reader who likes to scribble her thoughts and ideas on paper and believes that architectural writing is an important part of learning.