Stark Modernism – Tony Stark’s Malibu home from Iron Man.

Posted on September 8, 2010


It’s no secret that I am a fan of Modernist architecture and of  all the great architects of this movement, I have to say that John Lautner is one of my favourites. It is something of a dream to live in one of his creations, all sweeping concrete and majestic views. So, which of his homes would I choose, if I could? The iconic Elrod House, perhaps? The fluid Arango Residence? Or the beautiful Beyer House?

Well, the answer is none of them, because my dream house is actually a Lautner inspired creation that, sadly,  doesn’t actually exist: The Stark Residence from the movie Iron Man.

Original concept art for the Stark House.

The home was the creation of  conceptual artist Phil Saunders. His brief from the production designer, Michael Riva, was to design a billionaire’s Malibu cliffside residence in the vein of John Lautner’s organic cast concrete and glass homes.

Click the image to see Iron Man’s director give an on set tour.

Several existing buildings were scouted with the idea of adding to their scale and design in post production, however, none were deemed appropriate. So Saunders designed one from scratch, even down to the location, choosing to place the home on the bluff of Point Dume, a California State Park. His final design, extremely reminiscent of the Arango Residence, is sublime.

“The garage under the cantilevered livingroom I really liked, looking out over the ocean between the buttresses. Since that’s where Tony really lives, it should still have a nice view. The actual garage set is three times the size of the living room and would never fit in that space below, but thanks to the magic of movie geography, it’s never apparent.” – Phil Saunders.

Saunders' original production drawings for the Stark Residence.

Saunders was also responsible for the interior designs of the building. Here the Lautner references are extremely apparent. The fireplace and the sweeping floor to ceiling window are straight from the Beyer House, although this never feels like like anything other than reverent homage. Here the Lautner inspired stylistic touches are beautifully incorporated into the design of the Stark Residence.

The Beyer Residence & the production artwork for Tony Stark's home.

One of the great assets of the Stark Residence is that it benefits from being a thoroughly modern, actually futuristic, home. The computer, Jarvis, is integrated into all the systems of the house. One imagines that the climate control and energy efficiency of the building are minutely balanced and computer controlled. Indeed, in a deleted scene from the film, the living room glass overlooking the ocean becomes a transparent and interactive computer interface, allowing Tony Stark, amongst other things, to check his ‘phone messages.

Iron Man deleted scene, featuring the interactivity of the house.

Of course, the building is pure fantasy and a home like this could only ever exist in the movies. But then isn’t the point of the house of your dreams that it should be just that?

Dream home - The original production artwork & the final set.


Thanks to Phil Saunders & Marvel for the images.