the Arango house designed by John Lautner

Also known as Marbrisa house, I recently discovered the Arango house on Pinterest. Designed in 1972-1973 by John Lautner, in cooperation with Helena Arahuete, the house majestically overlooks Acapulco Bay in Mexico. This icon of modern architecture is inspired by the surrounding environment; the open spaces, the ocean and the sky.

the concept

Jeronimo Arango, a Mexican businessman, ordered this house from John Lautner in 1970, wishing for a new home to spend his weekends with his family. Having seen articles about the Elrod House and much appreciated it, he had wanted to be inspired by it for his own home. His only requirement was to have an unobstructed view of Acapulco Bay, a requirement that Lautner has fully integrated into his creation, which seems to be made around this view. Today, the Arango family is still the owner of this sublime residence.

The Arango house by John Lautner, 1973 (Casa Marbrisa)

The house is located on a steep hill in Acapulco Bay, southwest Mexico, overlooking wide beaches of the Pacific Ocean. It has two floors and 2,300 square meters of construction. Lautner has designed this house as an extension of the environment, respecting the forms of the hill. Like other modern architects, such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Richard Neutra, he really integrated architecture into the landscape. The curves of the concrete structure seem to meet those of the hill, while the water corridor amplifies the connection between the ocean and the sky.

The Arango house by John Lautner, 1973 (Casa Marbrisa)


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
The Arango house by John Lautner, 1973 (Casa Marbrisa)

The large open terrace is the most incredible part of this house. The water corridor, with a continuous overflow, runs along the edges of this large space. It is wide and deep enough to allow swimming. From a practical point of view, this kind of moat allows the absence of railings, which would have ruined the view, and is also an excellent way to prevent insects from entering the house. Coupled with the concrete projection, the canal highlights the ocean and the outdoor spaces surrounding the house. This majestic ensemble gives the occupants the impression of walking in the air, floating between sky and bay, inspiring a sense of infinite space.

Terrace of the Arango house by John Lautner, 1973 (Casa Marbrisa)
Ground floor of the Arango house by John Lautner, 1973 (Casa Marbrisa)
Bedroom of the Arango house by John Lautner, 1973 (Casa Marbrisa)

The house has five rooms on the ground floor that were intended for the Arango couple and their four children. The walls of this room were designed and built around the block of rock, which testifies of the adaptability of the architecture of Lautner. This is a striking element, which makes sense in the layout of this room. The mix of a natural element to the design pieces is really successful. Having recently written about Pierre Paulin, I immediately spotted the Ribbon chair positioned facing the bed. This chair had been designed in 1966, only a few years before the construction of the villa. We also note the presence of two Wassily chairs, designed in 1925-1926 by Marcel Breuer.

an inspiring home

View from the Arango house by John Lautner, 1973 (Casa Marbrisa)

The Arango house seems to float between sky and bay. Its curves provide a feeling of fluidity, accentuated by the water flowing to the edges of the terrace. At once relaxing and stimulating, like a cocoon linked to nature, this residence seems to be the ideal space for any free spirit, nourishing the inspiration.

The Arango house by John Lautner, 1973 (Casa Marbrisa)

This article ends with this sublime picture, which for me is the most beautiful of this series. The water corridor, pointing towards the horizon, the sky joining the ocean and the curves of the villa perfectly matching those of Acapulco bay.

Pictures by Julius Shulman or from Pinterest.