Paul de Ruiter

Villa K

A home in the mountains

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Villa K is located in the forested mountain range of Thüringen, and was Paul de Ruiter Architects’ first German commission. The brief was for an unobtrusive, energy-neutral villa that integrated itself into its natural surroundings. The result, built along minimalist lines, is an uncomplicated yet innovative sustainable residence composed entirely of glass, steel and concrete.

Villas, Energy neutral, Innovative climate system

Rooms with a view

The villa is oriented towards the south, allowing it to admit an optimal amount of daylight while minimising the need for energy-consuming artificial lighting. The living room and bedrooms are arranged along this south-facing side of the building, behind an unbroken, floor-to-ceiling glass façade that runs its entire length. The absence of interruptions in the façade ensures that nothing but reflections of the sky disturbs its surface, thereby affording the villa’s residents the most stunning views of the valley below. A niche in the façade, midway along the length of the building, reveals a swimming pool, which is open to the sky and intersects the house between the living area and the bedrooms, which are framed by a u-shaped terrace. The pool thus continues through the house, but also extends away from the building and beyond the slope of the mountain, so that its “outdoor” end appears to hover in space.

A section of the terrace floor can be raised hydraulically, providing access to the pool when needed and otherwise allowing the terrace floor to remain unbroken. Beyond the terrace is a garden with a vegetable patch and fruit trees.

The green roof allows the villa to blend into the slope of the mountain when viewed from above.

In harmony with the mountain

Visitors enter on the north-facing side of the building. The storage and service areas are also located here, and include a hunting room and a six-car garage. This part of the villa is embedded in the slope of the mountain and features a sedum roof with solar panels, which reduces the energy required for air conditioning.

Location-aided energy neutrality

Orienting the house towards the south and embedding much of its structure in the slope of the mountain has facilitated its sustainability. While the southern side of the residence is being warmed by the sun and bathing in sunlight, the “subterranean” part is admitting and storing cold air. A heat exchanger collects and stores the warm and cold air and transports it to a heat pump, which uses the former to heat the residence in winter and the latter to cool it in summertime. The system is linked to a cooling ceiling system and to underfloor heating, thereby maintaining the ideal room temperature throughout the residence at all times. This sustainable system operates automatically according to a highly sensitive and finely tuned computer program.

Project details


Total floor area 248 m²
Start design July 2010
Completion July 2014
Location Thüringen, Germany
Volume 867 m³
Program Energy-efficient villa with garage, integrated into its surrounding topography


Client Private
Project architect Paul de Ruiter
Project team Willem Jan Landman
Adv․ construction Van Rossum
Photography Pieters Kers & Patrick Voigt

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