This unusual carbon-neutral villa in The Netherlands is more than meets the eye. Located on a protected reserve, the dual-natured residence offers both the comforting feel of an earth-sheltered home and beautiful views of the landscape through floor-to-ceiling glazed walls. From afar, you’d never know this hidden home was anything more than the odd sci-fi glass tower that hovers over it. A reflecting pool further disguises what could be a fictional villain’s lair.
The entrance to the luxurious Villa Kogelhof by Paul de Ruiter Architects is underground, with residents driving high-end electric cars into a subterranean garage with its own bathroom and workspace and then taking stairs either to the ground-level reflecting pool or the volume containing the living space. The home looks out onto a 25-hectare (61-acre) plot that’s home to a variety of rare animals and plants; in order to build the home, the owners had to agree to return the plot to its pre-agricultural state by planting 71,000 trees.
An outer layer of insulated glass combined with an inner layer of sun-reflecting fabric enables the home to adapt to climactic conditions year-round, maintaining a comfortable and stable temperature inside. Rooftop solar cells and a specially constructed windmill generate all of the home’s power. Air is recycled through a passive ventilation system, and a range stove is used to heat the home’s water.
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“One of the main principles of Villa Kogelhof was to translate luxury into the happiness of independence. The goal for the villa was to be self-sufficient; to generate its own energy, to heat its own water and to recycle the garbage. To make sure Villa Kogelhof is energy neutral, the façade offers an important contribution. This so called climate-façade is composed of an outer layer of clear insulated glass from floor to ceiling and an inner layer of sun-reflecting fabric that can be rolled up and unrolled.”
“When the fabric is lowered, an air cavity is formed in which the air from the villa is extracted of a central ventilation system. The house is heated by a central heating system in combination with an air pump. Warm water will in the near future be generated by using a range stove, in which wood will be fired from the trees out of the private forest of the estate. Electricity is generated from the PV-cells on the roof and also from the planned windmill.”