Many architects talk of responding to the site and integrating their buildings with the surrounding natural environment, but few execute that intention with the compelling completeness shown in this house design. Moreover, the decisions that shaped this unique home were driven as much by sustainability and energy savings as they were by aesthetics and formal considerations.
The glass roof that spans the main structure allows natural lighting deep into the Base Valley House while providing a way for breezes crossing the site to pass through and cool the structure. Bedrooms carved out of the ground below are kept out of the sun and cooled year round by the surrounding earth.
Encased in wire mesh, stone retaining walls continue seamlessly from outdoors through the inside of the house, providing structural support to hold back surrounding dirt. However, this critical design move is also a tangible visible connection from the rocky bed of an adjacent outside stream to the carved (also stream-like) passage that serves as the main indoor circulation and gathering space.
Architect Hiroshi Sambuichi is known as a master of the relationship between architecture and nature. Observing and elevating the natural conditions surrounding his works is what leads to a beautifully balanced result. His love of nature developed during his childhood on the Seto Inland Sea, and his philosophy is that “architecture should become a detail of the Earth,” much like natural geographic features.
“In my work as an architect, my idea is to bring out the beauty of a specific place,” says Sambuichi in a video about his work. “The sun, the water and the air at that specific place. Thus my architecture will make the place as beautiful as possible. What interests me most is to bring out the beauty of a place. That’s why I spend a long time exploring the moving materials of the specific place.”