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  1. ArchDaily
  2. Projects
  3. Houses
  4. The Netherlands
  5. Powerhouse Company
  6. 2008
  7. Villa 1 / Powerhouse Company

Villa 1 / Powerhouse Company

  • 01:00 - 23 October, 2008
Villa 1 / Powerhouse Company
Villa 1 / Powerhouse Company, Courtesy of Powerhouse Company
Courtesy of Powerhouse Company

Courtesy of Powerhouse Company Courtesy of Powerhouse Company Courtesy of Powerhouse Company Courtesy of Powerhouse Company +21

  • Architects

  • Location

    The Netherlands
  • Architects

    Powerhouse Company
  • Partner In Charge

    Nanne de Ru
  • Project Team

    Nanne de Ru, Charles Bessard, Anne Luetkenhues
  • Structural Engineer

    BREED ID, Gilbert van der Lee
  • Lighting

    LS2 and BEDA electro
  • Contractor

    Valleibouw BV Veenendaal
  • Project Year


From the architect. One

Villa 1 was the first villa commissioned to Powerhouse Company since its founding in May 2005. In order to mark the site a golden "1" was nailed to a pine tree at the end of a dirt road.


Courtesy of Powerhouse Company
Courtesy of Powerhouse Company

The forest, like most of the Dutch landscape, is manmade. Mostly Douglas Pines were planted there in the 1950s for the production of straight stems that could then be used as beams. The trees became mature enough to be harvested in the 1970s, paradoxically just when it became immoral to cut trees. The landscape thus turned from industrial to being natural. Now the site falls under the local "building-in-nature" regulations, which include a number of restrictions, among which height limitations for the gutter lines and volumetric restrictions for what could be build above ground. Since the spatial needs of the house called for at least twice the volume allowed by the regulations, we designed it upside-down: all day functions above ground and all bedrooms below, but with ample daylight access.

Why Y

The site has a slight incline. It offers beautiful views on the forest and great sun exposure that we wanted to fully take advantage of. We thus came up with the distinctive Y-shape of the house: every wing is optimally oriented on the terrain and to the sun. There are three wings: one wing for work, studying and music making (North-West exposure); one for cooking and eating (East-South-West exposure); and one for living and painting (South and North exposure). In the basement, the Y-shape creates a similar functional clarity: one wing is for the master bedroom, one for cars and one for storage and guestrooms. A patio provides light for the guestrooms.

Courtesy of Powerhouse Company
Courtesy of Powerhouse Company

A singular frame envelopes the house, thus allowing for maximum transparency. The central area where all wings meet is the heart of the house. It is a large space that serves as entrance hall, dining room, bar and music-room. The Y plan stretches the house into the site and provides large panoramic views on the surrounding scenery. On the South and East sides, two large covered decks create sun shading in the summer and smooth the transition from outside to inside. In the basement the Y plan creates a clear division between the private quarters for the guests (with private entry through the patio), the garage and the master bedroom.

To each according to his needs

Courtesy of Powerhouse Company
Courtesy of Powerhouse Company

Every room on the ground floor can enjoy open views onto the landscape thanks to the wide transparent facade contained within the frame. Each wing is spatially organized in a sort of centrifugal manner. All mass is concentrated in a central core: a piece of furniture that contains all services and structural elements and that simultaneously creates different rooms within the entirely glazed space.

These large pieces of furniture allow for a free flowing distribution of functions without creating closed off rooms. It is thus possible to enjoy a pleasant stroll longer than 150 m through a variety of rooms immersed in the landscape.

Counteracting the extreme openness of the ground floor, the basement level shelters the most intimate rooms of the house and takes on opposite spatial qualities, emphasized by the brutal and protective feeling of mass. Here, the scarcity of daylight is complemented by a richness in spatial effects. The rooms are carved out in the mass, creating vaulted ceilings and thick walls as a paradoxical result of the lightness of the vertical structure above ground. In the basement the heavy architecture retrieves the primordial qualities of Roman architecture.


The three furniture pieces on the ground floor are distinctively different in their design, materials, feel and smell. We used wood to the North, slate to the East and concrete to the South.

In the North wing an American nut-wood furniture piece ‘swallows' a staircase, cupboards, a bed and a small bathroom. The curves of its outer shape create the entrance, a small and a large study and an acoustically sound piano-room.

Courtesy of Powerhouse Company
Courtesy of Powerhouse Company

The kitchen is the second piece of furniture. It is entirely made of Norwegian slate and incorporates all kitchen appliances and storage, a toilet and a bar. It is as solid as a rock, yet gentle in its use - a sort of primordial sophistication.

The third furniture piece consists of two concrete walls that incorporate a fire place, storage and video projector. This element opens up to create a patio bordered by a living room, garden room and atelier.

Miessian Gimp

Courtesy of Powerhouse Company
Courtesy of Powerhouse Company

The glass facade is suspended between window frames hidden in the ceiling and floor. There is no vertical structure, only silicone joints to hold the glass. The only large opening is a huge green marble sliding wall (a sort of mobilized Mies wall) which opens the intimacy of the living room onto the terrace. Although made of marble, the sliding wall is very light as it is mounted on honeycomb aluminum plates (a Chinese invention called stone-veneer now produced in Texas, USA, with predominantly Middle East stones). The marble sliding wall wraps around a cross-shaped column clad with a black rubber skin: this is what we called the "Miessian Gimp".



Structurally the house is a stack of different industrial building techniques. The basement is cast in concrete. The roof, with extreme cantilevers, is a complex steel structure designed by the audacious structural engineer Gilbert van der Lee. The bookshelf in the North wing is made entirely of solid steel plates and functions as a structural Vierendeel frame stabilizing the structure of the roof.


Courtesy of Powerhouse Company
Courtesy of Powerhouse Company

As a result of its Y shape and architectural dichotomy, the villa provides a wide array of extreme spatial qualities, going from narrow, dark, vaulted corridors to wide-open, transparent garden rooms. The result is a landscape of different spatial perceptions that goes beyond the mere pragmatic diagram of functionality. This house is the result of an involuntary yet conscious choice to radically change a way of living. It is a house for the new life of a man and his new partner. A house that can provide him with a new place to live in, after losing his beloved one with whom he had lived thirty years in an old farmhouse bought in the seventies and which they had remodeled 8 times to fit their changing needs. This house had to be something radically new for him. It had to offer a new balance to a disturbed life. It had to provide a new anchor point. It is a house designed for a family to be re-rooted.

Cite: "Villa 1 / Powerhouse Company" 23 Oct 2008. ArchDaily. Accessed . <>
Read comments


bari-tono · December 05, 2010

RT @OwenReady: This forest house is already nigh-on perfect. The Ferrari 400 on the drive makes it so. (via @archdaily)

Adam Moran · December 02, 2010

RT @OwenReady: This forest house is already nigh-on perfect. The Ferrari 400 on the drive makes it so. (via @archdaily)

Eric Gallina · December 02, 2010

RT @OwenReady: This forest house is already nigh-on perfect. The Ferrari 400 on the drive makes it so. (via @archdaily)

Owen Ready · December 02, 2010

This forest house is already nigh-on perfect. The Ferrari 400 on the drive makes it so. (via @archdaily)

Sean Grate · November 18, 2010

Do you know of released reminds me of another corresponding one I read somewhere else?

Liam Denhamer · November 10, 2010

most inspirational home ever built... via @archdaily

Tosh · February 28, 2010

Interesting to know would be how they dealt with the insulation with all that seemingly cold bridging going on..

DRT Gietvloeren (liquid floori · June 25, 2009

The white floor of the building that lies inside and outside is of a special polyurethane structure made by DRT Vloeren. In this special liquid floor, that's originally used in heavy duty industries, a sunprotection system is build in. That implies that the floor cannot change color by influence of the sun, and the white glossy effect will last for many more years, both outside and inside.
Liquid floors are now often used as a disign floor but next to being very beautiful it also has some advantages like; easy to clean, very strong, possible to choose a new color after a few years, chemical en liquid resistent.
The serenity that is created is made possible by this type of floor because there are no seams or splices. The building is very beautiful and inside you get the ZEN feeling and become relaxed.

Lasse · May 22, 2009

IF i HAVE to say one thing (and of course i usually do):

I am not sure of the way the staircase is swallowed.. Of course the way of integrating it in a core is right, but i miss some contact with the house as transition from deck to deck. Going down it seems to make sense that the massive is taken to the surface, but going up you stay in the basement feel and then of course have the maximum contrast to the open, but I would have gone for a spectacular feeling when moving and not just when getting there. Maybe have implied the upside-down by not only have the massive come to the open but also let the open come to the massive.

Still lots of love for it though<3 ;9

Lasse · May 22, 2009

It is rare in modern arch to find something THIS unique, deep playful and simple. And i believe this house is the best contemporary house i have seen!
I wish I could live there (or was able to design something this good)

The attention every scale and how innovative and thought through the solutions are. wow... A powerhouse indeed!

"Miessian gimp" hahahahahahah I am sure he would have loved that... Brilliant that the mass moves and not the lite glass..

I'm truely sad to hear what sad story that laies behind it. Hope the client finds what he wants...

BROSALIN · May 03, 2009

????????...?? ???????? ???....

david · February 27, 2009

what is the name of the chandelier u used on the top of the dinning/working table (uspended chandelier light rectangle frame?)

André Gomes · February 26, 2009

Apesar de ser professor de Biologia e Geologia, gosto muito de arquitectura e não me canso de ver novos ângulos desta habitação, amuitos títulos excelente, que nada fica a dever às realizações de Mies.
Muitos parabéns aos arquitectos.

martin is just a designer · January 29, 2009

i like the chimney. is like a fake mountain.

Calvin · October 26, 2008

so simple its amazing

Kamila · October 24, 2008

Reminds very much Atelier's Bow-Wow Kawanishi Camping CottageB from 1999. Tsukamoto launched typology of "Y" shape one space house...recently maybe 2years ago Sejima presented in Gallery Ga house of the same idea (of course transparent house with curved facade lines)...
now in Europe, different facade but contens the same....
in THIS case, nothing new....

Maria-Louiza Laopodi · October 24, 2008

I believe serenity is the word. I was trying to 'picture' the sound around this place and couldn't make up any in my mind. Inspiring design.

hedgy · October 23, 2008

Verry nice.. i like ;) . .. interesting and simple idea, what more do we want ... here are some more photos ;)


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Courtesy of Powerhouse Company

别墅 1 / Powerhouse Company