Paul de Ruiter

Villa Berkel

Interplay of indoor and outdoor living space

Villa Berkel 1
Villa Berkel 2
Villa Berkel 3
Villa Berkel 4
Villa Berkel s1
Villa Berkel s2 crop
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Villa Berkel is built on a woody site in Veenendaal that was formerly occupied by a bungalow dating from the 1970s. The woods around the site are quite dark, so we needed to design something that let in lots of light. That usually means lots of glass, but that can pose a problem with respect to privacy. So the challenge for us was the reconciliation of two seemingly opposing needs: privacy and daylit space.


Splitting the site in three

Our solution was to split the site into three parallel strips at right angles to the road and assign each a function. The bottom and southernmost strip we reserved for the terrace and garden, the middle strip was to accommodate the villa itself and the northernmost strip would provide access to the house: we would locate the driveway, parking space and entrance here. Splitting the site in this manner meant the parts of the house the residents preferred to keep private would be out of sight.

A home with two zones

We took a similar approach with the floor plan, whose 30-metre length we split in two. We situated the more “public” functions — the entrance, study, kitchen and living room — in the eastern section, which is closest to the street; and assigned the western section (furthest from the street) the more private functions: the television lounge, bedrooms and bathroom. Thus each zone is distinguished by its degree of privacy, with the demarcation between “public” and private served by translucent sliding walls.

Bringing the outdoors indoors

To emphasize the villa’s openness and give its occupants the feeling of living outdoors, we oriented the home towards its garden, which occupies the southern section of the site. Thus, given the glass walls that constitute villa’s south, east and west facades, every room in the house looks out onto its secluded garden. A large wood terrace runs the length of the villa and abuts the garden. This terrace is partly covered by a wood awning and supported by tapered steel brackets, a construction that allows it to function as an outdoor room. Owing to the brackets, the structure appears to hover a few inches above ground. Ponds at either end of the villa reinforce this illusion of hovering in space. The entire construction is thus imbued with an air of lightness.

Project details


Location Sandenburg 7, Veenendaal (The Netherlands)
Gross floor area 277 m²
Project description Loft-like villa in the woods
Start design January 2003
Start of construction September 2004
Project completion April 2005


Client Private
Project architect Paul de Ruiter
Project team Sander van Veen, Helga Traksel
Interior Paul de Ruiter Architects
Construction consultant Van Kessel & Janssen
Contractor Bouwbedrijf Valleibouw
Photography Pieter Kers

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