Claude Walker | Bicentennial-By-Buttons

“A feast for eyes and soul; terrific tour”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 24, 2011

You need to make an appointment to see Casa Barragan and it's not easy to find, but well-worth the trek. Designed and resided in by the great architect Luis Barragan, it's located in an unassuming neighborhood with graffiti-covered alleyways.

The 45-minute tour costs $150 pesos, and takes you throughout the house, up to the rooftop and out to the lush garden. You see his books and record collection. No photos whatsoever (which is unfortunate).

Our tour guide - Gabi - was great: articulate, funny, knowledgeable. She showed us examples of Barragan's "bringing the outside in", his use of indirect light and bold colors, the "floating" stairs and desk, and clever angles. She impishly described his being a bit of a control freak (he "trained" the backyard vegetation and always sat at the head of the table), and use of mirrored globes to key an eye on things.

Standing on Barragan's roof made me appreciate him more: the elegance of simplicity, power of design, and aesthetic potential of any inner-city rooftop. The house is a feast for the eyes and soul.

After the tour, we checked out the bookstore where Gabi and other staff answered more of our questions. We learned that Gabi's grandmother knew Barragan; very cool.

Back outside, finding a cab isn't easy; make prior arrangements. Or hike about six blocks to the subway (Constituyentes station?) which costs 3 pesos. Casa Barragan is a must-see.

Visited October 2011

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