TREK 2004: Mexico City – Jardines del Pedregal

To the South of Mexico City lies a vast extension of volcanic rock. Overwhelmed by the beauty of this landscape, Luis Barragan created a series of gardens to humanize without destroying the magic of the site. Luis Barragan, trained as an architect and recognized as a leader in Modern Architecture, gave up architecture in 1940 to dedicate himself exclusively to gardens. In 1944 Barragan purchased 400 hectares of land and embarked on his most ambitious creation: Jardines Del Pedregal. El Pedregal marked a new direction in large scale residential neighborhood planning, breaking from the classic Spanish-colonial grid system in its street plan. El Pedregal employed a picturesque, meandering street layout that followed the landscape’s natural contours. Barragan took cues from the land to maintain what was unique and special and built upon it. The same lava which made up El Pedregal was used to define the spaces in which nature contrasted with the architecture. Barragan illustrated that geometric forms and materials such as concrete, iron, and glass can integrate powerfully into the site.

What did Barragan see and how has El Pedregal survived? What knowledge can we take away from this project that will influence future residential planning? These are just a few questions to explore as I TREK to Mexico City and Jardines Del Pedregal.