One can only spot this camouflaged property at second or third look. It´s the dream house of a Swedish architect in the front row of the promenade in Port de Sóller. The face of the building possesses a plain, narrow concrete cladding which fades into the façade of the office of a real estate agency alongside. This kind of “glue building” is typical for Mallorcan fishing villages. Like big toy constructions, small picturesque houses are connected without space between them.
Owner and architect Janniche “Nick” Spangenberg bought the plot, then an unsightly hole on the first line, some years ago. Nick constructed his houses around the existing neighbouring house. As a result, his house is built around the sides and back of the other building. The entrance is a kind of winding staircase around the neighbouring building.
After three years of construction, the couple Inger and Nick could move in. The result can be aptly described as a “tower house”. Like a tree reaching high to gain more sunlight, the home soars up, yet has only a small ‘footprint’. The 380 square metres of living space are located above a plot of just 180 square metres. Nobody could prove better than an architect how to exploit the given tight space. An elevator provides comfortable access to all the five floors. The top floor houses the married couple´s bedroom and an ample modernistic bathroom with lots of glass panels, behind which are the wardrobes. In addition, a roof terrace with barbecue area is the perfect chill-out zone for spending nights with friends in summer.
Two guest rooms with additional bathrooms are situated on the ground floor. One of them faces the pedestrian thoroughfare beside the promenade. Three wooden sliding shutters in front of the broad windows protect the privacy. Often, these rooms are occupied by some of the blended family’s four children and six grandchildren, who live in Denmark.
A majestic grandfather clock catches the eye in the entrance hall. Although it’s in working order, Inger prefers not to wind it up, as its sound is “far too loud.” Next to it, a sofa looks inviting for a cosy chat. On the wall, there is a beautiful model of an antique sailing boat. Throughout the house, there are many more model ships, which remind the home owner of his great passion, sailing. Nick has a skipper’s licence and steered large boats in Sweden. His motor yacht, tied on the quay outside, is sacred. “Unfortunately, Inger is not too keen on sailing,” remarks Nick.
The actual living area is on the third floor. Its interior was greatly influenced by Inger. As she loves cooking, she had a large walk-in cooking island installed. From here, you can easily reach the dining area, where the large windows offer a fantastic view of Sóller’s harbour. Taking the other direction from the kitchen for the first time is a spectacular experience: the area reserved for reading and listening to music has a transparent glass floor. When walking on it, you first feel somewhat queasy, but soon this feeling gives way to enthusiasm: through the glass you can see the indoor swimming pool located one floor below. Thanks to a multitude of small lamps, the water shines in a magical blue. Wow! Like a snail’s shell, the living area curls to the second entrance, which inconspicuously opens up into a back street.
Just a few steps – or one stop with the elevator – below, is the pool. Nick shows how one can quickly and easily make the water disappear, with an electric cover. The affable pipe-smoker enjoys being here, as does his likeable wife. Next to the pool, he installed his personal fitness area, with a sauna. Weight-lifting, sit-ups and bench-pressing are part of his daily workout. The effect is visible in Nick’s athletic body, his fluid walk and his broad shoulders. On his stomach, you won’t find even a single gram of fat. His office is only three metres away from the pool and fitness area. He only needs to pass two bookshelves and is inside his architecture office. Drafts are all over the walls. Even today, he draws everything manually. Nick can plan his work as he likes. For him, working is no longer a necessity, but a demanding hobby.
Nick Spangenberg has achieved everything in life. For 45 years, he has been self-employed. Twenty-five of those he lived in Sweden because of the better work conditions there. There, he became a star architect and worked for 20 years for the family of Ingvar Kamprad, the man who founded Ikea. Nick says: “I was one of the architects responsible for the design of the first blue and yellow furniture shops of Ikea.” A little bit of Nick can hence be found in all the Ikea shops in the world. At the age of 27, Nick already cooperated personally with Kamprad. But he didn’t just work for the furniture giant. After his move to Mallorca, he designed several luxury villas and hotels, too.
His assistant is his wife. He met her 16 years ago in Mallorca. Inger was on holiday, Nick already lived here. Both were unattached and they had good chemistry. Inger had to make professional sacrifices, when she decided to settle with Nick in Mallorca. In Denmark she used to manage a racing circuit where high-profile races where held, including Formula 3000 which – up to the introduction of the GP2 series – had been the the final preparatory step for drivers hoping to enter Formula One. “This was a great, exciting job, which I did not like giving up,” says Inger. But Nick means everything to her, and by now she has got used to the quiet, Mediterranean life.
When the children or other guests are at the house, it’s a good opportunity to use the basement: the rooms radiate a casual charm. Nick has several vintage gambling machines installed: there’s a billiard table, flipper and an original one-armed bandit. The main room has been turned into a home cinema with a flat-screen TV measuring almost one metre by 1,5 metres, and a top-of-the-range THX sound system. Nick explains: “I designed a house in Puerto de Sóller for the director of the company Jamo. That’s why they let me have the Jamo speakers a bit cheaper. Normally they are almost unaffordable.” Up to ten people can be seated in the comfortable foldable Mickey Mouse armchairs. The lowest level of the house also has a suitably-temperatured wine cellar.
The staircase is decorated with a free-floating crystal chandelier and on top of it a strikingly big, red butterfly. Inger comments: “We were on holidays in Bali and Nick just wanted to have it. I had to take it everywhere with us until we left, and now it is here.” The effort was worth her while, for the artwork made of silk is a bizarre beauty. In order to keep the building filled with light in spite of its narrow façade, Nick gave the staircase a big skylight. It does the trick.
Nick says: “First and foremost, the purpose of a house is to allow you to live in it comfortably.” There are a number of pieces of art, but his treasures are everyday objects: Italian and Danish designer furniture from the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Nick has collected wonderfully styled objects and preserved them in their original state. For him, these pieces of furniture are not an investment, but just a hobby. From each of the 20 apartments and houses that he has lived in, something has been kept. “I have constructed and decorated each house as if it was my last,” explains Nick. He thinks that he won’t move again – however, with someone like him, you can never really know, can you?