• Sadia Hayat/ Maha Javed


Updated: Sep 20, 2019

Architects are often bound by the will of their client, reluctantly sacrificing and compromising design choices in order to suit their needs. But what happens when architects become their own clients? When architects design for themselves, they have the potential to test their ideas freely, explore without creative restriction, and create spaces which wholly define who they are, how they design, and what they stand for. From iconic architect houses like the Gehry Residence in Santa Monica to private houses that double as a public-entry museum, here is a fascinating example of how architects design when they only have themselves to answer to.

The flat, unassuming façade of Casa Barragan gives no hint to what is held within. Described as an oasis - a sanctuary that keeps out the “urban chaos” - the discrepancy between the façade and the interior highlights Barragan’s desire to design a highly private, intimate space within its walls. The windows are smaller and higher towards the front of the house, letting in light while maintaining privacy. On the opposite facade, huge windows at the back of the house open up to a spectacular view of the garden. The windows allow poetic filterings of natural light to flood the residence, illuminating the characteristically Barragan walls of pink, orange and yellow. Relics and symbols are placed and hung throughout the house, creating a deeply personal space. After Barragan's death in 1988, Casa Barragan was transformed into a museum that showcases his iconic architecture style to visitors from all around the world. It was later named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2004 as one of the most influential and representative examples of modern Mexican architecture.

In alarming proportions the following words have disappeared from architectural publications: beauty, inspiration, magic, sorcery, enchantment. And also: serenity, mystery, silence, privacy, astonishment. All of these have found a loving home in my soul
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