Primitive Living in Saijo, Hiroshima

exterior view

exterior view

Design: Suppose Design Office, Japan
Lead Architect: Makoto Tanijiri
Site area: 246 m2
Building area: 50.41 m2
Total floor area: 115.51m2
When I always create, I think that I want to find the charm of the plan,” claims 35 year old talented architect Makoto Tanijiri, chief architect of Suppose Design Office. In the nine year existence of Suppose Design Office they have built more than 50 works of architecture, almost all single-family homes, among other projects. The impressive number of works completed topped up in 2007 with the modern pit dwelling in Saijo, Hiroshima. In Saijo, a town known for it sake, a jet black pyramid unexpectedly stands out; when first seen it seems as if it’s a house from the future. On the contrast, it’s actually inspired by the earliest house in Japanese architecture; the pit dwelling or the “tateana jukyo”. Constructed during the Yayoi era (200 B.C. – 250 A.D.), pit dwellings were built by digging a circular pit (or rectangular one with rounded edges) fifty or sixty centimeters deep and five to seven meters in diameter, then covering it with a steep thatched roof. Not very different from talented young architects Makoto Tanijiri’s modern day pit dwelling!

living-dining room

According to Tanjiri, the clients, a young couple and their three children wanted a unique house, in which the open public part would preserve privacy. The site which was formerly an open field was excavated and the house was sunk a meter into the ground. The soil from the excavations was used to create a protective barrier around the perimeter of the site, and acted as the organic base of the house. The barrier formed is both visual and physical and was planted to create a lush landscape.


The sunken level of the house is communal; the perimeter is constructed by exposed glossy concrete. The sunken level is open plan and consists of the living, kitchen and dining areas. Although it is a meter below ground level it has a lot of natural light as Tanjiri placed ribbon windows running on all four sides. Four inclined black steel V plates were placed at each corner of the ground floor, to support the construction and the other two levels of the pit dwelling. A timber staircase without handrails leads to the first floor where the master bedroom and bath is found; however, it also neatly conceals a washroom located on the ground floor. The master bedroom enjoys a terrace, which is cut into the surface of the pyramid-like construction thus allowing natural light into the master bedroom. A transitional sentiment of calmness and anticipation reveals the perplexed entry into the cone shaped construction through the connection of a minimal steel staircase, artistic and creative, as is usually the case in Japanese houses, where the disorientation in design that the handrail creates is omitted.


dining table

Nevertheless, the most revealing and striking space of the house, unfolds before our eyes on the second floor where the children’s bedroom is located. The walls ascend and converge at the same time to meet at the skylight. Light vigorously pours through the skylight and into the rest of the house through the central opening where the staircase is located. Not a conventional children’s bedroom, but who is to say that this house according to today’s standards and not the Yayoi’s era is conventional?

space3 // bedroom

space 2 // main bedroom

Makoto Tanijiri demonstrates that only a mind free of restraints and rules can create a non conventional way of living. Where spatial arrangements and the concept of interpenetrating exterior and interior space is long achieved by Japanese architecture and living. Japanese modern architecture has accomplished designs where austerity thrives; what the westerners call minimal. Japan teaches the western world how to take risks when designing, and break the rules! After all, rules are made to be broken!



“We are always thinking about the border line.
Between ambient surrounding and the site, exterior and interior,
Architecture and furniture. The room and another room.
Various relations necessarily include the border line.
Modern ages tried to clarify their border lines as much as possible
However, we think that we have the possibility,
becomes vague by the architecture in the future.
The exterior like the interior architecture like the furniture
We imagine architecture that exceeds the area of it being achieved.
It will become a place were it is more similar to nature.”

- Suppose Design Office /// Design Ideology


under comstruction

under comstruction

under comstruction

under comstruction

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