John Lautner’s Arango House, also known as Casa Marbrisa is a spectacular modern dream house! The design is inspired in the natural beautiful features of the site, the sense of space, ocean and sky. John Lautner created this house in cooperation with Helena Arahuete. This icon of mid century modern space age organic architecture was created in 1973.
The house is in a very steep lot overlooking the Acapulco Bay. The upper floor is a large open terrace surrounded by a cantilevered moat/railing pool that seems to overflow into the ocean below, creating a feeling of infinite space. The moat is wide and deep enough to allow for swimming. The curved, sloping concrete roof is anchored into the hill at one end, then sweeps over the house and the driveway and returns to the hill at the opposite end. The roof is low on the hill side and high on the Bay side, allowing a great view of the sky and the ocean. The enclosed family room and bedrooms are located in the lower floor, facing the Ocean, with a continuous planter/railing along the edge of the decks.
John Lautner is recognized as one of the foremost architects who practiced at the height of the modern movement. John Lautner’s highly personal designs for homes are known for their poignant originality as well as their ties to Frank Lloyd Wright’s theories of organic architecture. As a student of Wright’s, John Lautner continued his tradition but branched out–many of his designs, such as the Chemosphere, the Monsanto House and the Arango/Marbrisa House, have become icons of organic modern architecture in their own right. The John Lautner Marbrisa House in Acapulco is an icon of mid century modern architecture. Arguably the pinnacle of John Lautner’s architectural career and one of the most beautiful icons of modern architecture. The vast (25,000 sq.ft) “Marbrisa” in Acapulco was built for Mexican supermarket magnate Jeronimo Arango in 1973 and was jointly designed by John Lautner and the Belgian born Helena Arahuete during her first year with the firm. Perched on a hilltop site, with uninterrupted views across the whole of Acapulco Bay, the main living quarters are surmounted by a large open terrace 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 ‘shade’ made of poured concrete.
The upper floor, serving as the main living and entertainment area, composes a large open terrace surrounded by a cantilevered moat/railing pool, wide and deep enough to allow for swimming, that seems to overflow into the ocean below, inspiring a feeling of infinite space.
The curved, sloping concrete roof anchors into the hill at one end, then sweeps over the house and the driveway and returns to the hill at the opposite end. The roof rides low on the hill side and high on the Bay side, allowing an encompassing view of the sky and the ocean. The enclosed family room and bedrooms situated on the lower floor, facing the bay, provide elevated landscape with a continuous planter-railing along the edge of the decks.
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.
Just viewing the house inspires. The curved lines provide the house a fluid feel, like the water that runs along the edges of the terrace or the clouds that embrace it, yet the dominant impression is one of boldness.
This house is the rarest of residencies: a house that is of itself, the environment, and the world expanding beyond… a house with few precursors and few progeny — a house with integrity. And therein lies its boldness, its originality, and its beauty.
The Arango House is more than just an artistic cure for a feeling of aimlessness or of ordinary existence. It is at once both a relaxant and a stimulant — a work of art that not only compels relaxation of mind and spirit but also inspires to live with more passion and to pursue creatively with zeal.
Images by Sarah Sackner, Alan Weintraub and Julius Shulman