Villa L by Powerhouse Company
and RAU


Overhanging floor plates delineate the levels of this house in the woods outside Utrecht by architecture studios Powerhouse Company and RAU (+ slideshow).

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Home to a family of five, the house comprises three storeys, including one that is buried underground. Living and dining rooms occupy the ground floor, while bedrooms are located upstairs and the basement floor contains guest rooms and a swimming pool.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

The architects conceived the top floor as a "village of cabins", which follow a different outline to the ground floor below. To achieve this, they installed a complex steel frame that surrounds a set of five rectilinear volumes.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

"One of the most important aspects of the house is the amazing steel structure," Powerhouse Company's Stijn Kemper told Dezeen. "There is this 11-metre free cantilever that makes the design possible, but the funny thing is that it's completely covered up, so you never see the structure. It's a strange experience."

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Different materials are applied to the facades at each level. On the ground floor, a wall of glazing fronts the garden-facing south facade, while the rear is clad with a mixture of glossy travertine and mirrored glass. To contrast, the top floor walls are covered with dark-stained wood but are also interspersed with mirrored glass windows.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Two hollows in the ground surrounding the house slope down to meet the basement floor, helping to bring natural light to the swimming pool and two guest bedrooms.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

A small pavilion at the other end of the garden provides a playroom for the children. More mirrored glass is used to clad this structure, which can also be used as a separate guest house.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Charles Bessard and Nanne de Ru founded Powerhouse Company in 2005, with offices in Rotterdam and Copenhagen. This isn't the first time the firm has teamed up with Amsterdam studio RAU, as the pair worked together to design a competition-winning dance and music centre for The Hague.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Other projects by Powerhouse Company include a spiral-shaped house extension and a woodland house near Arnhem. See more architecture by Powerhouse Company.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Photography is by Christian van der Kooy.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Here's some more explanation from Powerhouse Company:

Villa L - Paradox of Uniting Diversity

Powerhouse Company, in close collaboration with RAU, recently completed Villa L. Designed to fulfill 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.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

A young family with three children asked Powerhouse Company 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 resolved these contradictions with a sustainable design for a house based on a radical differentiation of spatial experiences on three floors (of which one is subterranean); the maximum buildable size on this site. Three clear levels, with three very different characters and functionalities as a basis for family life to emerge.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

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.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

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.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

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.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Smart Sustainability

RAU designed 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.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

A house designed for the hectic life of an evolving family; fragmented yet united, plural yet whole.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

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.

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Above: site plan

Location: near Utrecht, The Netherlands
Partner in charge: Nanne de Ru
Co-architect: Thomas Rau
Design: Nanne de Ru, Charles Bessard
Project leader: Stijn Kemper
Team: Ard-Jan Lootens, Bjørn Andreassen

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Above: exploded axonometric

Structural engineering: Gilbert van der Lee - BREED Integrated Design
Sustainability: Thomas Rau - RAU
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

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Above: ground floor plan - click for larger image

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Above: first floor plan - click for larger image

Villa L by Powerhouse Company

Above: basement floor plan - click for larger image

  • m's

    You gotta be kidding me; no garage for that family car?!

    • madame

      Garage in the basement.

  • Mario

    Oh schitterend! Chapeau!

  • I think the night time shots look great but in daylight the monochrome looks a bit stark amidst all the greenery.

  • sam jacob

    A hyper-extravagant villa. How should we view this celebration of the elite and fithy rich? When at the same time Powerhouse showcases at the Architecture Foundation, playfully but seriously commenting on economic extremities? (Shifts – rien ne va plus)

    • Colonel Pancake

      Without rich people like this, architects would be homeless.

  • endeshavdz

    Great rendering job.

  • nmg

    So they hired RAU to come up with the “innovative sustainable measures” such as hot and cold water storage and PV cells to make this excessive villa… sustainable?

  • Will

    We are all just sickened by how nice it is.

  • anonymous

    Stunning combination of architecture and landscape design. Was the Ferrari California really necessary though?

  • chinaimport

    I just see more power in the car than in the design.

  • Nobody

    I still think it needs a pool, that would be nice.