Pit House in Okayama, Japan

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Pit House | Okayama, Japan

Monday, November 5th, 2012

By Justin Ray

Photos courtesy of Koji Fujii/Nacása & Partners Inc.

Architects often attempt to create spaces that feel like human hands never touched them. It is rare for a building to deliver a sense of structure with ease. However, this house in Okayama, Japan, feels so organic that the architects might as well have been called gardeners.

The beauty of Pit House comes from the ease of its design. Built by UID Architects, the home has a modular composition but rather than looking clunky and labored, the building feels effortless. The architects, lead by Keisuke Maeda, were given the task of creating a house for a family of three that seamlessly fits into the environment—a mountain hill that was converted into a residential neighborhood—and they sure delivered. Most of the building is located underground, thus the project's name. 

Natural light floods the building through glass walls. Living trees surrounded by rocks are used as decorative fixtures. Even the formal elements of the house like the kitchen and living room have such a minimalist design that they look like they could have grown on their own. Could a house feel more organic? Despite the building's simple looks, its actual makeup is complex. A central concrete cylinder (containing a bathroom and a storage closet) connects six floor levels via a staircase surrounding it. Columns resembling branches support a central floating cedar box that sits one meter off the ground and is visible from the outside. The box contains the bedroom and other intimate spaces. Altogether, the house fits into the woods with little interruption.

"Environment and architecture create new extensive relationship by connecting surfaces," the architect says. "The territory is undefined. I think there is a more natural relationship with architecture that stands in a landscape."

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