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Villa in Holland

Powerhouse Co.

Nanne de Ru, Charles Bessard,
Alexander Sverdlov, Nolly Vos,
Wouter Hermanns, Anne Luetkenhues,
Bjorn Andreassen, Joe Matthiessen

Structural Engineer:
Breed ID Gilbert van der Lee, Den Haag

History and Early Development:

The development of the structure of this building arose from unique circumstances. In the 1970’s the local authorities for landscape planning placed a ban on desctruction of trees in the surrounding areas of the Douglas fir plantation, of which was the prime location for the construction of this villa. In response to this ban, many of the major functions of this villa had to be taken underground. The garage and bedrooms are located here. This innovative design can be seen through the section-cut photographs below:

Another interesting design feature that Powerhouse Co. integrated into this building is the villa’s optimum orientation for the various living areas. The dining rooms face east/south-east, the ofice lokos north-west, and the lounge north and south. These geometric orientations can be seen through the top views of the structures shown below:


The main structure of the villa is made of concrete cores clad in wood or stone for asthetics. These columns are also intelligently placed throughout the building so that the views of the landscape will not be obstructed. The only column exposed is made of clad thick rubber which serves as a stopper for the sizeable, marble clad sliding door. In addition to the hidden columns and single exposed column is another important support that takes the shape of a bookcase at one end of the villa, designed as a kind of structural Vierendeel girder. All of the structural elements mentioned can be seen below:

Marble sliding door and glass facade

Marble sliding door and interior

Detail of the sliding door and cross-shaped supporting column

Bookcase that doubles as a stuctural support for the roof

Walls and Glass Ceiling:

The walls for the building are constructed with an external layer of travertine tile, fixed with adhesive to a layer of multiplex board, then a layer of timber post rail wood bearer support frame, followed by wood lathing, then fibre-cement board thermal insulation, then a layer of polyestyrene, and finally renforced plaster that faces the interior of the villa. These walls frame into a portion of the roof that is made of glass. This portion is near the exterior walls and only a few feet deep but allows alot of natural light to penetrate the buildings roof. This glass is designed with a U-value f 1.4 W/m^2*K in order to block some of the ultra-violet light that could be harmful to individuals inside. A detail of one of the walls and its connection to the glass portion of the roof is located below:

Main Roof Construction:

The rest of the roof is constructed with a top layer of EPDM sheeting, then a layer of thermal insulation, followed by multiplex board, a steel I-section beam for support, then fibre-cement board, then a layer of thermal insultion, then reinforced plaster that is flush with a curtain track for asthetic purposes. This design can be seen through the detail of the roof below:


“Detail” magazine. Issue 5. 1999. “Villa in Holland.”

Written by Cody Kinsey

January 26, 2012 at 8:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized