A play of light and views

01 March 2018
Nanne de Ru

Restrictions often bring out the best in an architect. In the case of Villa 1, building regulations dictated a maximum height of 3 meters within a limited perimeter. This was in contrast with the client’s wishes, who desired a house that was almost twice the admissible size. When it became apparent that a large part of the building had to be situated underground, we focussed on a smart organization of the program, while at the same time trying to maximize the presence of daylight in the different parts of the villa.

To get a good grasp of the atmosphere of the site, and to adapt the architecture to the light and scenery of the surrounding forest, we camped out on the site for two days. We saw the sun rise and set, we experienced its trajectory across the sky, and we observed the light filtering through the trees. These were indispensable experiences, which served as a starting point for our design for Villa 1.

The surrounding forest
Photo: Jurriaan Langstraat

In order to take full advantage of the beautiful woodland views, we created the distinctive Y-shape of the house. It comprises three wings, which are all fully glazed on both sides. The facades oriented towards the North are situated close to the edge of the forest, creating an intimate atmosphere. The exterior on the Southwest faces a clearing in the woodlands; here, the glass facade curves inward to allow for a patio that offers a spectacular view of the facade.

The underground section of the villa is reserved for the bedrooms, bathrooms and garage. Several smart design decisions ensure these spaces retain a light and open feel. The master bedroom, for instance, is connected to a patio that is oriented towards the morning sun. A small indentation in the lawn, combined with a slightly lowered patio on the ground floor, allows light to access the staircase and the underground hallway.