Villa 1 was Powerhouse Company’s first commission. Set in a wooded clearing, the house combines inspirations from the spectacular site, the clients’ paradoxical desire to live, in their words, “in a modern glass house with all the cosiness of an old farmhouse”, Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and the work of Eero Saarinen.
The characteristic Y shaped-design optimises the layout of the functions towards the sun and the views. To meet local zoning regulations, half of the programme is accommodated in the basement. This creates a strong dichotomy in the house: an extremely open and transparent ground floor versus a ‘Roman’-like basement where rooms are carved from the earth.
Like so much of Dutch nature, this forested plot is manmade. It is, however, protected by special regulations—these dictated a maximum building height of three metres, limiting the villa’s volume above ground. Considering its functions required twice the allowable volume, Powerhouse Company designed the villa upside down, placing all the bedrooms underground and the living and working functions on top. As a result, many of the design decisions centre on maximising light and views. The rotated plan is informed by the sun’s path as it glides through the clearing—a transition we experienced closely by camping out on the site for a few days while designing the house.
Enveloped in a singular frame and transparent skin, the ground floor has three wings: one wing is for work, study and music (north-facing); one is for cooking and dining (east-, south-, and west-facing); and one is for living and painting (south- and north-facing). They converge in the central hall, which serves as the entrance, dining room, bar and music room. Each wing is organised around a central core, a solid furniture element that incorporates the services and structural elements. This frees up room to create generous open spaces that enjoy maximum light and views through the full-height glass facades.