Our first destination this morning was Luis Barragan’s house and studio.  Gray and nondescript from the exterior, the residence opens into a small foyer; the frosted glass above the door lets in a yellow light that washes the wall.  An imbedded light points upward, painting a wall with light, contrasting the natural and the daylight.  Compositionally, solid colors and materials are used for entire surfaces; one wall will be pink, another white, while the floor is made of tiles of dark volanic rock, or a stair that is made of stained wood, flows up and up, cantilevered from a wall, only to flow vertically up, becoming a door that leads to a private work area.  Views from the house are non-existent; even the parapet reaches up higher than 10 feet, turning what would be views of the urban Mexico City into intimate views into one’s heart;  you see, Barragan designed the house to be introspective, filling it with books from places all over the world.  Only two views looked outwards, but even these were of nature.  The plants outside had the colors of “green” and “blue” and thus, he never used these, as man could not replicate nature.

After this, we meet up with the architects of the Chapultepec station.  One of them is both an architect and a developer, and I am excited about the way he works, controlling his abilities more fully.  He began at the age of 25, having a keen eye for dilapidated properties that lost value during the earthquake.  He bought one for $60,000, a steal for Mexico City.  He built apartments on it, selling these to his neighbors in the condos he lived in.  This one action brought him a number of other clients, a domino affect, as he acquired property after property in la Roma.  Because credit is difficult to obtain, he prefers to buy, develop, and sell, a turn-key type approach.  He explains how his first concrete project did not go as planned (he used metal forms to create a longer bend), but it did not turn out as planned; he told the cement masons to leave it as is; it gave it character.  We met in a courtyard building he designed, of a triangular floor plan, that opened up the sky above.  He speaks of the importance of urbanism and the necessity of allowing for a flow and active ground plane for pedestrians.  Especially after hearing him speak and seeing the school of architecture at Unam University, I have realized that architecture is a global language; it has different dialects, depending on where you are, but fundamentally it is the same from country to country.  More so now than ever, architecture is concerned with many of the same subjects, regardless of place.

 

We proceed to Chapultapec station, learning of the importance of pedestrian and bicycle connections and the need for the station to relate to the history and culture at the city scale.  In the presentation later tonight at the Espacio Publica agency, we learn of the important steps this agency is using to promote public spaces.  Some of these include a combination of public/private partnerships, where the private entity becomes responsible for the upkeep of the public space.  Their actions become targeted to any underprivileged space, including “under bridges,” decrepid monuments, neglected plazas, and disconnected streets.

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