Paul de Ruiter

Villa Room

The Netherlands’ first energy-neutral house

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This villa’s design and layout were defined by the activities and interests of the clients, a couple, one half of whom was a painter, who wanted a studio-cum-gallery with a view of the garden; the other, a sustainable energy and technology enthusiast, who wanted something that maximised the possibilities for controlling indoor conditions in an environmentally friendly manner.

Villas, Energy neutral

A light-filled central void

The interior is arranged around a large, double height void with a translucent roof. The orientation of the villa and gradient of the roof are calculated to ensure that only north light, with its controlled value shifts, is admitted from above and through the glass façade, thereby creating ideal conditions in the studio for painting. The ground floor, where the studio is located, is mainly devoted to “public” functions, in that it is where the couple receive guests, mount exhibitions and chamber concerts, and where the large, open-plan kitchen and dining room are located. The living room shares the same floor, but is slightly more secluded and located off to one side so that it opens out onto the terrace.

Sturdy façade

The façades provide a deliberate counterpoint to the airy, light-filled interior, built as they are of dark brick with orthogonal masonry, heavy galvanized beams, and glass panes that appear as abstract surfaces owing to the concealment of their frames. The balcony on the south façade, loggia overlooking the terrace and the secluded garden contribute to the home’s comfortable ambience and provide a surprising amount of privacy for a house that offers such expansive views and admits so much light, while the glass and blank sections of the façade provide different views of the villa’s surroundings.

Centrally controlled conditions

The upstairs rooms all relate to the central void in some shape or form. Each room is a dedicated and enclosed space, for the sake of privacy, and each is either oriented towards one of the surrounding views or towards the light-filled void. Their relationship with this central space makes for a seamless overlap of living space and work space. On the side of the villa overlooking the floodplain is a thermal regulation room, in which we installed a system that monitors weather conditions (air temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, sunshine and cloudiness) and adjusts indoor conditions accordingly, thereby maintaining a constant level of thermal comfort in the most energy-efficient manner possible.

A thermal regulation system monitors weather conditions and adjusts indoor conditions accordingly, and energy-efficiently

Energy-efficient systems

Thermal comfort and home conveniences are further achieved or provided with minimal energy consumption via a solar water heating system in the roof, solar panels in the slopes of the roof and a nocturnal cooling system. The house is also equipped with a home automation system that controls not only the usual appliances, but also things like the aluminium sun blinds, lowering or raising them to a preset position for shade or privacy.

Project details


Location Rhenen
Total floor area 491 m²
Project description Villa with studio-cum-gallery
Start of design April 2001
Start of construction February 2003
Completion May 2004


Developper Paul de Ruiter Architects
Design Paul de Ruiter Architects i.s.m. Rob Hootsmans
Project architects Paul de Ruiter en Rob Hootsmans
Project team Sander van Veen, Willeke Smit, Monique Verhoef
Construction consultant Bouwtechnisch adv.bureau J.L. Croes
Building services engineering Halmos
General contractor Bouwbedrijf Valleibouw
Photography Rob 't Hart & Allessio Guarino

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