December 05, 2013



One half of this energy-efficient house in the Netherlands by Paul de Ruiter Architects is raised above the landscape in a glazed box, while the other half is buried underneath a pool of water.
Amsterdam firm  was asked Paul de Ruiter Architects to design a home that would provide a comfortable environment all year round while minimising its energy use and impact on a site in a protected ecological area.
"It was an important wish from our client to create a simple, abstract, yet spectacular villa," said the architects. "The result is a composition; consisting of two square stacked volumes: one underground and one floating above ground."
The house's upper storey seems to hover above the landscape, supported by a V-shaped steel frame at one end and a glazed box at the other containing a staircase that links it with the underground space.
The main living area, kitchen, three bedrooms, bathrooms and a multifunctional space are housed in the elongated volume above ground. Glass doors and partitions separate the various spaces on this level, including a walled-in patio with the living space and the master bedroom on either side.
Below ground, another rectangular box arranged perpendicular to the upper storey houses a huge garage, as well as storage, a bathroom and an office. A large picture window at the end of the office overlooks an artificial lake and the flat  landscape beyond.
Throughout the interior, white walls and epoxy floors contribute to a clean and minimal environment that focuses attention on the views provided by the full-height glazing.
In order to build on the site, which is a habitat for many plants and animals, the owners were required to return what had previously been farmland to its original pre-agricultural state. They planted 71,000 young trees that will eventually obscure the house from view and added a rectangular pond above the underground storey.
Energy-saving techniques employed in the building include a fabric screen built into the insulated glazed facade that can be rolled down to reflect the sun, and create a void between the glass and the screen through which ventilation flows.
Photography is by Jeroen Musch.
Villa Kogelhof is designed based on complete autarky: therefore the house will be energy neutral. By using several techniques, the villa has a comfortable climate all seasons, whilst being extremely energy efficient. It was an important wish from our client to create a simple, abstract, yet spectacular villa. The result is a composition; consisting of two square stacked volumes: one underground and one floating above ground. It is designed as an uncompromising glass box, supported by a steel V-frame.
Contemporary estate
The 25 hectare estate is part of a larger program initiated by the government, which aims to connect regional ecological zones throughout the country. The current owner bought the site, once farmland, in 2006. It is a protected habitat for animals and plants and a major tourist draw in the area, open to the public.
Permission to build a house on the land was given only on condition that it was returned to its pre-agricultural state. The planning of some 71,000 six-year-old trees hint at the future of the estate as ‘a villa in the woods’ and were planted already in 2006. 
The underground volume of the house consists the entrance, parking (for 6 cars and a tractor), storage, bathroom and a workspace which looks out over the pond. The living area is situated in the floating glass box above ground. It’s floor plan is completely open, except for some subtle glass room dividers.
There are several separate volumes for the kitchen, bedrooms, bathroom and a multifunctional room. The patio has glass doors on both sides, so that it’s both accessible through the living room and the bathroom. The entire floor is covered with white epoxy and the furniture consists of designer classics from Le Corbusier and Eileen Grey. The façade is completely made out of glass and offers a spectacular view over the surrounding landscape.
One of the main principles of Villa Kogelhof was to translate luxury into the happiness of independence. The goal for the villa was to be self-sufficient; to generate its own energy, to heat its own water and to recycle the garbage.
To make sure Villa Kogelhof is energy neutral, the façade offers an important contribution. This so called climate-façade is composed of an outer layer of clear insulated glass from floor to ceiling and an inner layer of sun-reflecting fabric that can be rolled up and unrolled. When the fabric is lowered, an air cavity is formed in which the air from the villa is extracted of a central ventilation system.
The house is heated by a central heating system in combination with an air pump. Electricity is generated from the PV-cells on the roof and also from the planned windmill.

In 1990 Paul de Ruiter (b. 1962) completed his studies at the Technical University of Delft (Netherlands). Two years later he started his research concerning energy efficient buildings. Before founding his own office in 1994 he worked with leading architectural offices in Canada, Australia and the Netherlands.  From its very start Architectenbureau Paul de Ruiter is keen on doing research to design buildings and towns in which people feel comfortable and safe, without prejudicing the environment and economic feasibility. Architecture should serve people and humanity – that is the real basis for effective innovation. Besides his design activities Paul de Ruiter works at a doctoral dissertation on climate active facades. He gives lectures, writes articles for professional journals and teaches at the Dutch Technical Universities. Paul de Ruiter is committed to several institutions that aim at a sustainable society.
The keywords innovation, sustainability, identity and interaction characterize the vision of Paul de Ruiter Architects. Bringing the future closer by means of innovative architecture is our ambition, making possible what appears impossible and developing unexpected and pioneering solutions. To achieve progress, an architect must move beyond existing frames of reference and surpass the norm; breaking through processes. This means you must be proactive, involving all the parties concerned in the process right from the start, in order to expose the real needs of the customer. Inspired collaboration produces innovative architecture.
Paul de Ruiter Architects has started its practice in 1994 and counts about 18 employees. Our office is based in a former steelworkplace which we fully renovated on our own initiative and converted into a business complex in which, besides ourselves, different creative companies are located.