The Casa Estudio Max Cetto is one of the true great secrets of Mexico City Architecture. Max Ludwig Cetto Day (1903-1980) was an architect, historian, and later professor. Like many of the architectural greats of the city, much of his best work was in private residential homes. To this day, most of them can’t be visited. That’s part of what makes his private residence such a joy to visit.
Widely hailed as revolutionary in its integration with the landscape, the home doesn’t shrink from the black rock surrounding it. Rather, it works toward the culmination of a rich and difficult topography.
Cetto studied at the Technical Universities of Darmstadt, München and Berlin. An early disciple of Heinrich Wölfflin, he later studied under the direction of Hans Poelzig, graduating as an engineer-architect in 1925, at the height of German Expressionism.
With the rise of fascism, he was prevented from working in Frankfurt in the 1930s. He traveled to the United States in 1937 and one year later, settled in Mexico, where he then collaborated with José Villagrán García.
He’s also considered to have been an important influence on Luis Barragán, the Guadalajara architect. Cetto’s early collaborative period lasted until 1945 when he opened his own practice. Although he became a Mexican citizen in 1947, he was only licensed as an architect in 1952. He’d relied on the celebrated Juan O’Gorman to sign off on many of the interim projects.
In 1965, he began his teaching at the National School of Architecture (ENA), today the Faculty of Architecture of the National University of Mexico (UNAM). One of the workshops within the Faculty is still named after him.
The Casa Estudio Max Cetto is considered the first residential building to rise over the rugged black lava fields of Pedregal. Today, it’s one of the most important residential neighborhoods in the south of Mexico City. Still owned by the Max Cetto family, it’s an important part of the Modernist legacy in all of Mexico. Complete with stunning gardens and integrated landscaping, the home makes for an incredible visit.