A Legacy Of The Award Winning Architect Melvin Villarroel

Few places in the world boast so many beautiful residential complexes with amazing gardens, luxurious hotels in a variety of styles or magnificent private mansions as Marbella, a privileged oasis in the south of Spain. Marbella has created its very own style that has been reproduced in other parts of Spain, as well as around the world. One of the architects who greatly contributed to the development of the Costa del Sol was Melvin Villarroel. For more than three decades of his life and work in Marbella, this creative genius earned his well-deserved reputation with dozens of projects such as hotels, golf courses, beach clubs and residential complexes along the Costa del Sol and other parts of Spain.

Melvin was born and grew up in La Paz, Bolivia. He went to study architecture in Chile, where he also met and married his wife Antje and became the father of two sons and two daughters. All of his children pursued his same career, became architects and worked together alongside him. Villarroel and his wife came to Marbella for the first time in 1973, once awarded the contract for the Hotel Puente Romano his long lasting relationship with the area was cemented. This singular visionary, who unfortunately passed away in 2010, played an essential role in shaping Marbella’s personality, receiving many awards, among others one that stands out in 1994 he was awarded by the Marbella City Council for his contribution to the embellishment of the city.


Integrating nature and architecture played an essential role in his work. He took the natural features of a particular area and blended the buildings into them. His architecture was based on “vacío”, the empty space. Occuyping never more than 10-30% of the land on his projects. The architecture of the Vacio is a simple and revolutionary concept at the same time: to built on a small part of the land (the solid) so that the rest serves as a transition between the solid and the surrounding exterior. Once this intermediate space is assigned it serves as a continuity of both, the natural emptiness and the solid construction. For example, the immense garden with the swimming pool, loungers and the green areas (the vacio), between the villa (the solid) and the golf course (exterior) is the designated prolongation of the house.  The Hotel Puente Romano has 30.000 m2 of the plot, with only 10.000m2 occupied by buildings. The rest is gardens, swimming pools, fountains, streams and waterfalls. Melvin Villarroel was aware that any construction has an impact on its surroundings and he believed that a good architect must be able to combine all the client’s need of a safe, functional and economical building with the aesthetics to enrich, and not to destroy the surrounding areas.

Another key characteristic of his work was to ensure that a building reflected the cultural origin of the place where it is located. Although he was one of the first architects on the Costa del Sol who incorporated in his designs colors, tropical woods and Polynesian style roofs, he was faithful to the traditional Andalusian pueblo style as his point of reference.


Melvin Villarroel built dozens of award wining projects in Marbella and Estepona and his fame increased with each of them. Among the most emblematic and iconic are: Hotel Puente Romano (1978); Marbella Shopping Center (1982);  La Alcazaba (1982) – residential complex in Puerto Banús; Hotel Marbella Club – extention (1985); Alcazaba Beach (1987) – residential complex in Estepona; Marina Puente Romano (1989); Kempinski Resort Hotel in Estepona (2000) – the second generation of his architect’s work;  La Alzambra (2000) – residential complex in Nueva Andalucía; Ventura del Mar – residential complex beachside Puerto Banús; Urbanization Costalita (1989) – residential complex in Estepona; Alhambra del Mar (1984) – lavish residential complex on the Golden Mile; Torre Bermeja and Cabo Bermejo – both luxury frontline beach complexes on the New Golden Mile; amongst many others…


Melvins projects for hotels and residential complexes also reached other parts of Spain especially Granada, Cádiz, Murcia, Mallorca and Tenerife. His most prominent projects throughout Spain include: Marina del Este (1980) – residential complex in Granada; Hotel Jardín Tropical (1986) – 400-room hotel in Tenerife, the first generation of his architect’s work; Gran Hotel Abama Resort&Spa (2007) – the five star hotel in Tenerife, a complex project of 259.000m2 with convention center and golf course, reflecting a Moorish influence, became a strong feature of Villarroel’s work.


Fair Lakes (2002) – award winning urbanization project in  Shanghai that opened the doors of the Asian continent to Villarroels work. His company continues to design worldwide including countires such as: Morocco, China, South Africa, Panama, Brazil etc.

If you have fallen in love with his unique design style, why not visit Marbella and stay in one of his charming exceptional properties. Whether you decide to rent or buy, Marbella Unique Properties is on hand to help guide you through the process and assist you with your Villarroel property needs.

Image of the excellent photographer Charly Simon

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