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Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo's Home-Study Museum

Date of Submission: 20/11/2001
Criteria: (i)(iv)(vi)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
INAH/CONALMEX Puebla 95, Colonia Roma 06700 Mexico E-mail: direccion.pmundial@inah.gob.mx
Coordinates: 19°29' N - 99°11' W
Ref.: 1599

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This property includes three buildings: two house-studies and a photographic laboratory, all three designed and built by famous Mexican artist and architect Juan O'Gorman (1905-1982) for Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo and Guillermo Kahlo, respectively. Construction took place between 1931 and 1932, and the artist couple lived there until 1934. The building technique was based on the use of reinforced concrete, adapting design to function, a basic principle followed by O'Gorman in his architecture. Electrical and plumbing installations were left exposed. In both houses, ceiling concrete slabs were not plastered, and only the walls, built with structural clay tiles, were stuccoed. Asbestos boards with iron frames were used as doors. On the outside, a concrete spiral staircase connects the different storeys of the painter's study. These are, just to name a few, some of the features that characterise O'Gorman's functionalist architectural theory: "minimum expense and effort, maximum utility". The painter's study was built in three storeys. Its lightweight concrete ceiling slabs were left exposed, window frames were made with structural steel and its roof is stepped. Furthermore, austerity and economy are displayed in all finishes. Much attention was paid to the natural light required by the study, and therefore floor-to-ceiling windows were used. The study has a free, mainly geometric ground plan, which groups together services and hallways. The introduction of these features to early 30's architecture is one of the most valuable contributions to modem XX century architecture. Frida's house was built with brick walls, plastered on the interior and the exterior, while structural iron was used for window frames. A bridge on the rooftop links this house to the painter's study. The photo lab was located in a separate, simple construction built adjacent to one of the two property lines.