Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Facade

© Julius Shulman

The design of John Lautner’s Arango House, also called Marbrisa House, is inspired by the site’s natural features: the ocean and the sky.  The house was commissioned in 1970 by Jeronimo Arango as a weekend home for his family, and in 1973 the architect built a 25,000-square-foot home that seemed to float above the water. 

Arango Marbrisa House Technical Information

  • Architects: John Lautner
  • Location: Acapulco, Mexico
  • Topics: Concrete, Houses, Mid-Century Modern, Mexican Houses
  • Built Area: 2, 300 sqm
  • Engineer: Lin, T.Y., Kulka, Yang, and Associates
  • Promoter: Jerónimo Arango
  • Project Year: 1973
  • Photographs: © Jan-Richard Kikkert; © Julius Shulman | J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10); © Flick Users

When I first visited the site, I got the idea to build a large, open terrace so that all you had was the beauty of the Acapulco Bay and the sky and the mountains. You don’t feel you’re in a building at all. You’re out in space. With the beauty of nature.

– John Lautner

Arango Marbrisa House Photographs
Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Pool

© Julius Shulman

Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner exterior living room

© Julius Shulman

Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner views

© Julius Shulman

© Jan-Richard Kikkert

Arango House’s is arguably the pinnacle of Lautner’s career; the vast (25,000 sq ft) “Marbrisa” in Acapulco was built for Mexican supermarket magnate Jeronimo Arango in 1973 and was jointly designed by Lautner and Helena Arahuete during her first year with the firm.

The client had seen Elrod House in publications and wanted a similar house. He wanted the property to look out over the bay of Acapulco. The Arango residence included an expansive open-air terrace with bedrooms on the level below.

The design was inspired by “the curving coastline and the feeling of infinite space.”

– Helena Arahuete

Perched on a hilltop site, with uninterrupted views across the whole of Acapulco Bay, a large open terrace surmounts the main living quarters with spectacular views of the beach and bay, encircled by a “sky moat” which snakes around its edge; the terrace is itself topped by a huge, sweeping semi-circular angled awning made of cast, reinforced concrete.

© Jan-Richard Kikkert | Swimming Pool

Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Interior jacuzzi

© Jan-Richard Kikkert | Living Room

Arango Mar Brisas House by John Lautner

Living Room

Arango Mar Brisas House by John Lautner

© Jan-Richard Kikkert | Living Room

The design was inspired by “the curving coastline and the feeling of infinite space,” recalls Helena Arahuete, who worked with Lautner for 23 years and was the project architect for the Marbrisa House, as it’s known today.

Over 40 years later, the concrete house is still lived in and continues to astound with its biomorphic, curvy designs, which feel like they were meant for an era that we haven’t arrived at quite yet. This is all the more extraordinary given that Lautner’s team built this entirely by hand — photographs of the house under construction show a complex network of wood scaffolding, with men working and not one crane in sight.

 

House Floor Plan
Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Floor Plan

Credit: John Lautner Architects

Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Section Plan

Credit: John Lautner Architects

Arango Marbrisa House Image Gallery
About John Lautner 

John Edward Lautner (16 July 1911 – 24 October 1994) was an American architect. Following an apprenticeship in the mid-1930s with Frank Lloyd Wright, Lautner opened his own practice in 1938, where he worked for the remainder of his career. Lautner practiced primarily in California, and the majority of his works were residential. Lautner is perhaps best remembered for his contribution to the development of the Googie style, as well as for several Atomic Age houses he designed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which include the Leonard Malin House, Paul Sheats House, and Russ Garcia House.

Other works from John Lautner