|Casa Luis Barragán, designed by Luis Barragán, 1947 (source)
||East Hampton Residence, designed by Rafael de Cárdenas/Architecture at Large (source)
Casa Luis Barragán occupies a nondescript facade along a dead-end street in the neighborhood of Tacubaya in Mexico City, easy to miss among the other walled compounds that typify the city’s residences. Throughout the house, each main space is accessed from a small vestibular space, concealed by a door or a change in orientation, creating a procedural dissociation from the outside world. The entry sequence creates an experiential compression that releases the occupant into the larger rooms feeling as though the journey seemed longer than it actually was. This passage is reinforced with the transition from darkness into light, an appropriately Catholic ritual. Once fully inside, the house provides spaces for study and contemplation, with outdoor glimpses helping to envelope the interior. The garden, though accessible, is overgrown and obscurant, serving to fill west-facing windows with green, sealing the view. The rooftop walls are extended in height to force the view up, with the sky acting as a conceptual ceiling to the space. Barragán’s house is a zone of pure privacy, immaculately fashioned to provide him with a solipsistic environment of reflection.
A floor-level shelf opposite his twin bed houses Barragán’s record collection. Among the catalog of classical LPs is a single album of non-classical music: Inside by Paul Horn, documenting his solo flute and voice improvisations in the Taj Mahal. The 1968 recording captures Horn’s tones inside the reverberant mausoleum, with the waves of echo rippling outward after the flute’s initial attack. Through its manipulated reverb, the white marble interior functions as a second performer, accompanying the soloist’s playing. For Horn, the experience was a success, registering as an early milestone of New Age music, and the first in his continuing series of recordings within the world’s sacred spaces, from cathedrals to Tibetan monasteries, canyons of the American Southwest, and the Great Pyramid of Giza. This exploration of enclosure resonates harmoniously with Barragán’s articulation of personal domesticity as both works are dependent on investigations of interiority—its physical and conceptual vectors equally—to deliver their essential allure.
Following a period that emphasized the affect of architectural exteriors, Rafael de Cárdenas is turning inward to create spatial identities.
By unifying the arts through merging interior design, product design and architecture, he assembles spaces that speak like people—at times quietly and sometimes loudly, giving rise to varied expression. They break from the limits of the discipline, exploring a different side of functionalism, one that seeks efficient communication, through belonging—introducing a new element to an existing stylistic stream.
These interiors—while not architectural in the structural sense—manipulate finishes, furnishings, hardware and so on to build spaces with unconventional atmospheres, based on familiar motifs, which loosely allude to an array of narratives. For example, in an East Hampton domestic interior of de Cárdenas’ design, the retro details paired with a softness reminiscent of angora, creates a space Ed Wood might fit right into.
Erandi de Silva