Casa Gilardi, located in Mexico City's San Miguel de Chapultepec neighbourhood, is the last project architect Luis Barragán oversaw entirely.
Barragán was already retired, when Pancho Gilardi and Martin Luque, two mid twenty bachelors, asked him to build a house for them, with a swimming pool where they could host parties.
At first, he wasn't interested in the assignment but when he spotted the blooming Jacaranda tree in the coutyard he changed his mind. The tree would be the center piece of the project.
He asked Martin and Pancho 'carte blanche' to design the house as it was an opportunity for him to put all the ideas he had left into practice.
Barragán was inspired by the colors of the paintings by his friend Chucho Reyes Fereira, sometimes referred to as 'the Mexican Chagall'.
The pink facade is only the beginning of the extraordinary color palette behind the front door. Barragán was a master in playing with colors and light.
A swivelling wooden door at the entrance opens up to a rather small hallway with a staircase.
The hallway has a closet wall on the left with a hidden door to a bathroom for pool guests. The color scheme is very neutral, a huge stone ball is positioned at the end, next to the staircase.
The second corridor has a completely different atmosphere. It is bright yellow. On the right side, the vertical windows are painted yellow too, so even the indirect light has a color filter. The windows become huge sun rays with this simple yet clever technique. When you walk through the corridor you become overwhelmed in a way, it feels like you are bathing in sunlight. You would have to experience it yourself to feel the poetry and spirituality of his designs.
After the yellow corridor you enter the Swimming Pool area. The water, that extends from wall to wall, has blue and red color blocks emerging from its surface. In the roof the hidden skylights give a hue to the colors on the wall that you can only obtain by playing with the refelctions of direct and indirect light. According to our guide, Luque's wife Alcira (who lives in the Gilardi house now with Martin and the kids) the walls have to be repainted every few years to maintain the intensity.
In fact when we visited the Gilardi house in Juli 2017, everything had just been repainted. Also the courtyard door that leads to the rooftop was painted white again instead of pink, in the original color chosen by Barragán. The patio walls have the same color purple as the flowers of the Jacaranda tree, the goddess of the house.
Througout the house (even now, in 2017) decoration chosen by Barragán is still present. In the library you can find a beautiful collection of ceramic bowls and plates designed by a close friend to Barragan, architect Marco Aldako (well known for his 'coastal open architecture' and palapa roofs).
As Alcira mentioned, you only need a suitcase to move into a Barragán-house.
When you want to visit the Gilardi house, you have to make an appointment first since it is a private house.
Location: General Léon 82, Mexico City Colonia San Miguel Chapultepec - Mexico Phone number +52 55 5271 3575
Combine it with a visit at the Kurimanzutto gallery a few streets further down the block, a must see for contemporary art and architecture lovers. You can have lunch or dine at the other side of the street at Archiepelago
Text and photography Veva van Sloun except for the photo of Chucho Reyes Fereira's work.