I sincerely hope you caught the Houzz feature on Julian and Desiree from Mid Century Møbler, and their amazing circular house. This post will be about another interesting house, without corners or straight lines. To understand the story of Villa Spies, you have to first understand who Simon Spies was. The Danish tycoon didn’t invent pacakge holidays, but in many ways his name came to be synonymous with the practice in Scandinavia, through his travel company Spies and his charter airline Conair of Scandinavia. Coming from a humble background, Spies made no attempts to be some kind of discrete magnate. Instead he grew his hair and beard long, partied in sex clubs and lived after the device that all press is good press.
In 1967, Spies contacted an architect by the name of Staffan Berglund, asking him to develop some ideas for the future of traveling. Berglund made drafts for how airplanes could change to include play areas for children, and a cabin bar for adults to have a cocktail or two during the flight. Spies loved it, but the Swedish version of FAA, Luftfartsverket were less than excited, pointing out a number of security issues, with having unbelted passengers roaming around inebriated.
But Spies was still interested in working with Berglund, and they know gave him the assignment to develop holiday homes for Scandinavian tourists in Spain. Berglund’s solution was both modern and frugal: round plastic houses, easily installed and complete with disposable cutlery and dishes. This time Spanish trade unions put up resistance, fretting that Spanish worker’s would lose business with this idea. Once again the project never moved beyond drafts.
Soon thereafter, Spies contacts Berglund again, this time to help him build a summer home on the Swedish island Torö, in the Stockholm archipelago. The house is to be based on the designs that Berglund made for the houses in Spain, but with the luxury amped up, and the exterior made of concrete rather than plastic. The plans of the circular house includes a circular pool, and a circular terrace. It also had a number of features controlled by remote control like a dinner set, that could be hoisted between floors, slide projectors to create different moods around the house and electric window shields.
After just barely managing to secure a building permit, the house is erected in 1968, to virtually no fanfare from the Swedish architecture press. Spies reputation as a playboy, along with Berglunds futuristic approach to architecture earned him no favors in the still conservative architect community. The tabloids however, featured the house frequently, but more as a backdrop to scandalous stories about Simon Spies, than as an architectural triumph. Simon Spies died in 1984, and the house was inherited by his last wife Janni, who is said to have kept the interior intact. She does not allow visitors, so very few people have actually seen the inside of the house with their own eyes. But we can still swoon over the amazing pictures!