Villa L – Paradox of Uniting Diversity / by Powerhouse Company and RAU

Villa L

Powerhouse Company, in close collaboration with RAU, recently completed Villa L. Designed to fulfil the desires and needs of a young family, Villa L is set in the woods of central Netherlands, fully oriented towards the sun and the views on the garden. Villa L is a spatially diverse residence where every floor has its own strong identity, creating a broad spatial spectrum within a unified whole.

© Christian van der Kooy
© Christian van der Kooy

A young family with three children asked Powerhouse Company and RAU to design a house that would fulfill their dreams: a paradox of a house that is simple yet surprising, open yet specific, minimal yet luxurious. Powerhouse Company, responsible for the design, resolved these contradictions with a house based on a radical differentiation of spatial experiences on three floors (of which one is subterranean). RAU embedded the sustainable strategy for the villa in the design. Three clear levels, with three very different characters and functionalities as a basis for family life to emerge.

© Christian van der Kooy
© Christian van der Kooy

Family life
One level is for living, a generously open ground floor. A strip of serving rooms containing storage, toilets and stairs, provides easily access to the luxuriously open living spaces. The kitchen and living room are oriented maximally to the sun and view. In close relation to this living area there are two studies located on the north side next to the entrance.

© Christian van der Kooy
© Christian van der Kooy

Village of cabins
The collection of rooms on the first floor provides space for sleeping and privacy. Set in a delicate roof garden, all the bedrooms are autonomous volumes crafted in their entirety from dark wood. They work like a village of cabins, providing intimacy and privacy. Every room is like a world of its own with private views over the wooded landscape.

© Christian van der Kooy
© Christian van der Kooy

Wellness and retreat
The curved basement is for guests, wellness and storage. The excavations allow the pool and the guest rooms to have fully glazed facades and direct access to the garden.


Smart Sustainability
The house incorporates innovative sustainable measures including a hot and cold-water storage and extensive use of hidden PV cells. The basement contains a dedicated area for the high-end energy saving installations. A house designed for the hectic life of an evolving family; fragmented yet united, plural yet whole. The audacious structural engineer Gilbert van der Lee, also responsible for engineering Villa 1, designed the structure, including the soaring ceiling of the living room. The interior furnishings are designed by interior designer Bart Vos.


Awards & Nominations:
Villa L was recently nominated for the prestigious
European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award 2013.

© Christian van der Kooy
© Christian van der Kooy

Project data
Location: near Utrecht, The Netherlands
Partner in charge: Nanne de Ru
Co-architect: Thomas Rau – RAU
Design: Nanne de Ru, Charles Bessard
Project leader: Stijn Kemper
Team: Ard-Jan Lootens, Bjørn Andreassen
Structural engineering: Gilbert van der Lee – BREED Integrated Design
Project management: Stef Pierik – Pierik Projecten Groep BV
Contractor: Coen Hagedoorn Bouwgroep BV
Landscape design: Sander Lap – LAP Landscape & Urban design
Interior design: Bart Vos – VOS Interieur

Powerhouse Company
Charles Bessard (1970, France) and Nanne de Ru (1976, The Netherlands) founded Powerhouse Company in 2005. Powerhouse Company has offices in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, and Copenhagen, Denmark and works on various international commissions that range from furniture design to architecture, planning and research.

Thomas Rau (1960, Germany) founded RAU in 1992 which is located in Amsterdam. RAU designs buildings with a strong emphasis on sustainability and has been at the forefront of Dutch/European sustainable architecture since its founding.