Unique Homes in Japan: Buried Pyramid House in Hiroshima

In this installment of our Unique Homes in Japan series, let’s take a look at a sleek, modern home inspired by how the pre-historic hunter-gatherers of Japan lived.

In the Jomon period (from about 12,000BC to about 300BC), the pre-historic peoples of Japan lived in pit-dwelling houses, in which columns were inserted into a big hole dug in the ground and then surrounded by grass.

Reconstructed Pit dwelling of Kubota Ruins near Aizu Tadami Old Material Museum in Tadami Town, Fukushima Prefecture. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Reconstructed pit dwelling in the Kubota Ruins near Aizu Tadami Old Material Museum in Tadami Town, Fukushima Prefecture. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Pit dwellings, like the one in the image above, were one of the design inspirations for the house that the architects of Suppose Design Office built for their clients on what was originally a small, grassy plot.

Saijo House 2

This house by Suppose Design Office was inspired by pre-historic pit dwellings and practical considerations relating to the load-bearing layer being 1-meter underground. Photo: ArchDaily

Another consideration was that the “bearing stratum,” which is the soil or rock layer which carries the load of the foundation, was found to be about one meter underground. Rather than raising the load-bearing foundation layer, the architects decided from the beginning to bury half of the house underground.

The underground room has glass walls. For privacy, a small hill, surrounds the whole house. Photo: ArchDaily

The underground room has glass walls. For privacy, a small hill surrounds the whole house. Photo: ArchDaily

The soil leftover from excavating the ground was used to make the small hill surrounding the house, which acts as both a privacy barrier and a garden. The underground portion of the house is surrounded by glass but shielded from neighbors, a clever solution to the owners’ desire for a “bright, open-hearted space” with privacy.

Photo Source: ArchDaily

Photo Source: ArchDaily

The walls of the upper floors are composed entirely by the pyramid-shaped roof.

Photo Source: ArchDaily

Photo Source: ArchDaily

Each floor is connected by the hole made for the skylight in the roof.

Photo Source: ArchDaily

Photo Source: ArchDaily

The house is located in Saijo, a town in Hiroshima prefecture and (for Japan) has a relatively spacious floor area of 246 square meters (about 2,647 square feet). It was completed in 2007.

Cross section of the buried pyramid house in Saijo, Hiroshima, Japan.

Cross section of the buried pyramid house in Saijo, Hiroshima, Japan.

You may also be interested in: “Living Inside a Mountain in Kagawa Prefecture