Sometimes the best art comes from knowing the rules so well that you understand how to perfectly break them.

When we think of the concept of Minimalism, straight lines, open spaces, and monochromatic colours often come to mind -- but Mexican architect Luis Barragán has taken the latter and flipped it on its head, to great success, with his "colour-block style."

Luis Barragán was one of the first to popularize colour-blocking in architecture, a style that maintains the large, smooth surfaces (i.e., "blocks) core to minimalism, but rather than utilizing shades of grey, it goes bold with bright yellows, vibrant pinks, and any other colours that are part of the rainbow spectrum.

The concept of colour-blocking originated from painting and is now also common in fashion, and while those who utilize the style often choose colours that are opposite one another on the colour wheel, there are also often instances where the colour choices are seemingly-random, although they are almost always quite saturated.

Because of Luis Barragán, that colour-block style has also now nearly become synonymous with Mexican architecture and art, as represented by the Torres de Satélite sculptures in Naucalpan, Mexico. In 2020, the New York Times summarized Luis Barragán as so: "In the global imagination, his architecture became synonymous with evocatively vague notions of silence, mystery, serenity and thick walls in sensual colors considered to be redolent of some absolute sense of Mexican tradition."

That use of all colours on the rainbow spectrum is also why the home sitting on 225 Mountain Drive in the Lions Bay neighbourhood of West Vancouver -- currently on the market for $2.4M -- is named Spectrum House. The home was built in 1979, designed by Ken Turnbull as his own residence, and the influence of that Luis Barragán colour-block style is seen throughout.

Luis Barragan Spectrum-House Lions Bay

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Stand in one of the home's open spaces and you won't have to look around long before you find a sight-line with a multitude of colours. Walls go from a deep red to a light gray at the turn of the corner, and from certain angles with a certain amount of light, the colours reflect onto the beige walls nearby or the wooden floors.

Barragán famously applied the concept to his own home in Mexico City, a home that has since been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Spectrum House probably won't get that rarified honour, but it's certainly not just a run-of-the-mill home with some splashes of colour.

READ: Bob Lewis Made West Coast Style Famous in Vancouver. This Home Shows How

One side of the house fully utilizes that avant-garde Luis Barragán colour-block style, while other parts are much more akin to the traditional portrait of minimalism. Many of the windows are also placed in spots where you can't quite tell how colourful the walls are from the outside looking in, and the house is also littered with a variety of interesting design choices throughout.


  • Address: 225 Mountain Drive
  • Floors: 3
  • Bedrooms: 3
  • Bathrooms: 2+1
  • Building Size: 2,863 sq. ft
  • Lot Size: 22,433 sq. ft
  • Price: $2,399,000
  • Listed By: West Coast Modern

Our Favourite Thing

The view -- but from inside the house, specifically standing from the main staircase. There are probably not many homes in the world where you can stand in one spot and see walls painted turquoise, purple, red, and orange. Meanwhile, nearby windows and skylights provide enough light that the spectrum of colours you see in the morning may not be what you see in the evening.

Welcome To Spectrum House

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