In NOWNESS’s most recent feature for the series “In Residence” — a collection of intimate visits into the homes of architects, designers and artists — videographer César Pesquera turns his lens to Casa Gilardi, a Mexico City home built by the celebrated architect Luis Barrágan and which perfectly exemplifies the aesthetic he developed through his entire life and career.
In the film dedicated to the memory of his good friend Pancho Gilardi, after whom the house is now named, Martin Luque tells the story of the architecture by taking the camera through the rooms and into every corner of Casa Gilardi, the last house entirely designed by Barrágan.
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Pancho Gilardi and Martin Luque, the co-owners of an advertising agency in Mexico City, were great admirers of Barrágan’s walls and colors. While Barrágan was already retired at the time that Gilardi and Luque approached him to build the house, he was awe-struck with the presence of a great jacaranda tree at the heart of the site, immediately attracted to a project that would respond to this central element and grow around it.
“The tree was a good excuse for him to accept the commission,” says Luque, “because he absolutely loved it from the beginning.” From that point, the architect’s main request to his two clients was that they would let him do with this project all the ideas that he still had in his head.
“Are you sure you can handle the pink walls?” recalls Luque as a question Barrágan had when he was commissioned. But the pair left him with all the freedom to design whatever he dreamed up and what would become the last house he would build in his lifetime.
The house boasts shades of pink, blue and yellow, lacking in one color only: green. Green was the color Barrágan restrained from painting on his architecture as he believed it should be left for nature to contribute.
Yellow, on the other hand, is a reference to spirituality. Inside the Casa Gilardi, the main corridor, which Luque refers to as the altar of the home, is coated in a glowing shade of yellow, reverberating on every object passing through it. At the end of this corridor, the pool — a haven of peace — is a place that Luque holds fond memories of. It is where his children learned to swim.
“The architect used to come every day between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m.,” recalls Luque, “because he was always devoted to the light, the reflections and the play of light.” This dedication is visible throughout the architecture, where pigmented walls — both inside and outside — become canvases for streaks of light coating surfaces and folding in corners of the home.
Many of the objects in the home are gifts from the architect, as well — sculptural globes, tequila jars, lamps — which help to create an atmosphere reflective of Barrágan’s ideas and architectural visions.
Luque explains how the house changed him once he started living inside of it. “I could have never imagined all the things that mean to live in a place like this,” he says. “This is where I ended up living, and I adapted my lifestyle to the architecture of the house.” At the end of his life, Gilardi gifted the house to Luque as he believed no one else would be able to maintain the home as Barrágan had envisioned.
As NOWNESS has done with many of the videos in its “In Residence” series, Pesquera’s portrayal of Casa Gilardi is a touching tribute to a great moment in architecture, where color, nature and form come together to materialize some of the last dreams of an iconic architect.