The new Luis Barragán Archive opens at the Vitra Campus, in Germany

The archive consists of almost 30,000 pieces including sketches and drawings, photographic material, objects and much more. After a long period of work begun in 1996, the headquarters has been inaugurated.

After a process lasting well over two decades, the permanent exhibition space of the Luis Barragán Archive (1902-1988) has been inaugurated this May at the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, a stone’s throw from Basel across the German border. It is located in the building designed by Dieter Thiel next to the more famous Schaudepot by Herzog & de Meuron.

Cortile con giardino e parete posteriore vetrata in Luis. Lo studio di Barragán in Calle Francisco Ramírez 12 (Città del Messico, 1948), fotografia scattata da Armando Salas Portogallo intorno al 1951. © Fondazione Barragan / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022
Garden courtyard and glazed rear wall in Luis Barragán’s studio at 12 Calle Francisco Ramírez (Mexico City, 1948), photograph taken by Armando Salas Portugal around 1951. © Barragan Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

Since 1996, the archive had been managed by the Barragán Foundation based in the neighbouring Swiss town of Birsfelden, but the lack of suitable space had largely prevented its access and use.

By partnering with the Vitra Design Museum, the collection of the most important Mexican architect of the 20th century is now available to enthusiasts and scholars: 13,500 sketches and drawings, photographic material, furniture, objects, documents and personal and professional correspondence.

Luis Barragán, Los Clubes, Atizapán de Saragozza (Grande Città del Messico), 1961–1966. Fotografia di Armando Salas Portogallo del Fuente de los Amantes. © Fondazione Barragan / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022
Luis Barragán, Los Clubes, Atizapán de Zaragoza (Greater Mexico City), 1961–1966. Photograph by Armando Salas Portugal of the Fuente de los Amantes. © Barragan Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

The director of the foundation is the Italian Federica Zanco, who was formerly on the editorial staff of Domus: “It is a project I have dedicated a large part of my life to since it is as old as my children. There has been some controversy involving the lack of usability of the archive. I have received several criticisms too. The truth is that the material needed suitable space to be consistently organised and archived, as well as the time and staff required for a complex and articulated cataloguing operation”.

Luis Barragán, Casa Gálvez, Città del Messico, 1955. Vista della fontana incassata dal soggiorno, fotografia di Armando Salas Portogallo. © Fondazione Barragan / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022
Luis Barragán, Gálvez House, Mexico City, 1955. View of the recessed fountain from the living room, photograph by Armando Salas Portugal. © Barragan Foundation / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn 2022

The archive is organised as a thematic gallery, displaying documents and other material in continuous rotation. “Everything that is not on display can be consulted on request”, Federica Zanco continues, “just as the study room can be visited. It is here that we have moved the entire library of the foundation, which is full of all the publications on Barragán from the 1920s onwards”.

The connection with Domus did not end with the editor. Amongst the architect’s correspondence – in addition to exchanges of letters with Le Corbusier, Philip Johnson and De Chirico – there are also several letters with Gio Ponti, who was one of the very first to publish on Domus in 1935, and who remained a lifelong friend of the Mexican architect. 


This is not the first collaboration between Vitra and the Barragán Foundation. In fact, the touring exhibition “Luis Barragán: The Quiet Revolution” dates back to 2000. After its debut in Weil am Rhein, it toured the world, ending in Mexico City.

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