Lucha Libre and modernist architecture meet in Mexican short film ‘El Luchador’

‘El Luchador’ blends Lucha Libre and architecture, in a Mexican short film set in Agustín Hernández Navarro's modernist home Casa Praxis in Mexico City

el luchador mexican film stills and shots showing lucha libre and augustin hernandez's concrete casa praxis
(Image credit: 'El Luchador' film still by Simon Company)

Mexico's Lucha Libre – a type of free wrestling – and modernist architecture come together in El Luchador, a new short film commission produced by Simon Company following its author's win of the Simon Prize 2023 with a previous film, El Trapo. The 2024 piece honours the work of Agustín Hernández Navarro (1924-2022), the Mexican sculptor, poet and architect, and his unique Casa Praxis, a distinctive concrete home of geometric forms and raw brutalist nature set among the leafy edges of Mexico City – where the film is set.

Lucha Libre meets Casa Praxis: watch 'El Luchador'

Living Places - Simon Architecture Prize 2024 / El Luchador - YouTube Living Places - Simon Architecture Prize 2024 / El Luchador - YouTube
Watch On

The short film was created by René Baptista, Tito Sánchez, and architecture studio RA! (Cristóbal Ramírez de Aguilar, Pedro Ramírez de Aguilar, and Santiago Sierra). It tells the story of a young 'dreamer' aspiring to become a 'Luchador' - his journey told against the backdrop of the iconic Mexican home, which was built in 1975 and featured in Wallpaper* in 2003 as part of a profile on Hernández Navarro.

casa praxis in mexico, concrete among foliage

(Image credit: Francisco Álvarez. Image © PEANA)

‘When brainstorming the architecture video, we were drawn to this house because it is a brutalist icon in Mexico. Fortunately, we connected with the family of architect Agustín Hernández and secured permission to film there. The decision was driven by curiosity about the house's interior, paired with the humorous contrast of its brutalist style, which seems fit for a villain or superhero, and the idea of a child inhabiting the body of a wrestler,’ the team say on their choice of location.

el luchador mexican film stills and shots showing augustin hernandez's concrete casa praxis

(Image credit: 'El Luchador' film still by Simon Company)

'Agustín Hernández's work is deeply influenced by pre-Hispanic architecture, and this cultural reference permeates his designs. This made it natural for us to create a film with a distinctly Mexican identity, highlighting our history, culture, and comedic quirks.'

black and white concrete building with raw geometric forms

(Image credit: Mi Moleskine Arquitectónico)

Adding humour and a tongue-in-cheek approach to their project was important for the team, who aimed to instill a sense of the unexpected and focus on an unseen side of Casa Praxis' architecture – as opposed to the dramatic, serious and more visually pristine way it has been typically presented. Instead, they went for a series of montages with a ‘comedic tone’ – at the same time, tying it to Lucha Libre, a 'symbol strongly tied to Mexican identity'.

el trapo mexican film stills and shots showing augustin hernandez's concrete casa praxis

(Image credit: 'El Luchador' film still by Simon Company)

This approach is supported by the authors' belief that the main focus of their project is not the building. They explain: ‘Architecture plays a secondary role in this project, with the narrative focusing on the Luchador as the central character. The architecture serves as a supporting character, with the house's light and spaces crucially enhancing the story of a child's dream home.'

concrete shape of casa praxis by augustin hernandez

(Image credit: Courtesy Archivo de Arquitectos Mexicanos (AAM), Fondo Agustín Hernández Navarro, and Facultad de Arquitectura, UNAM.)

‘At RA!, we design architecture by considering how it will be inhabited. We focus on spaces from the spectator's point of view, prioritising human experience over formalistic whims. Our design process includes creating storyboards with illustrations to visualise our experience through the spaces, capturing the essence of time, which is a vital element in our work. For this project, we crafted a storyboard with illustrations, just as we do for every project.'

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).