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Xander Spronken's Livable Sculpture

First Person
Written by
Lyn Yip
March 17, 2021

It is becoming apparent that when it comes to architectural gems, treasure often lies at the end of an old dirt road. In the Castellon Hills of Les Usères, Spain, is one such road leading to an immensity of land that serves as a large, earthy canvas. At the center is the house that Dutch artist Xander Spronken built: an “art house”, a home that is at once a sculpture and a house, greets you with its host of 6m-high concrete pillars that do not loom so much as they soar.

Xander Spronken approaches architecture the way he does all his art pieces. Negative space is valued as much as positive mass, air and void animated by light and the inexplicable emotion of volume. Speaking of the many towering doors that connect the indoors with the out, he says, “I make the doors high because… why half? I go on until it feels good.”

Spronken House is a sprawling 310 square meters of living space, encompassing four bedrooms, four baths and two pools. The dimensions offer air and space in the noblest sense. Its proportions have a long-legged allure that invoke a prehistoric awe of nature. Spronken loves “pure things”, as he puts it, which explains the elements that are left as raw as possible: dense, unvarnished wooden beams that speak of trees that continue to live, forged iron hinges and frames, sweeping panels of glass. There is no burden of heft in this enormous structure. On the contrary, there is an airiness that arises from the play of light, indoor/outdoor perspectives, and delicately framed views of the Iberian Mountains, no doubt thanks to the mastery of multi-layered form that Spronken is known for.

It appears the idea of a livable sculpture, or sculpture one can live in, came as a natural realization after the fact. Spronken had built this house drawing from the same source he does for his sculptures. And so, how is it not a sculpture? It is the way of seeing that makes the difference. It certainly heightens Spronken’s own enjoyment of the house. There is a palpable delight in his voice when he says, “This is a piece of art that you can use… I like this very much because you can dwell around it. And in much sculptures, I can’t… It’s really nice to be here, and to just sit here, and enjoy it. The other sculptures I enjoy also, but you don’t sit in it. You are not all the time with it, together.”

Such is the interest of art we can live in: a communion with the piece, a simple, almost affectionate enjoyment of being together. Spronken’s nephew Joris Dassen has taken to the task of sharing, opening up his uncle’s sculpture to like-minded guests, an invitation to discover and comprehend the artwork that unveils itself to those who take the time.

To visit Xander Spronken’s art house, click here.