on the hillside of a small mountain in aichi, japan, masaki ihara of architecture studio IHRMK has realized a private residence on a tiered foundation. the staggered structure follows the form of the sloping terrain and integrates into the surrounding vegetation to settle within the local topography in a balanced, harmonious manner. 

all images courtesy of IHRMK



when observing the houses on the mountain, masaki ihara (IHRMK) noticed that there were generally two types of construction methods. one was to provide artificial soil and build a typical house on top of it, and the other was to create a basement level by digging the terrain. although both are convincing methods to deal with the inclined terrain, ihara wanted to propose a way of living where one can feel closer to the slope and the trees that grow on it. for this reason, the architect designed this project with a sectional form, like a tiered stand of hina dolls, and a foundation shallow enough so as not to disturb the flow of the subsoil water.

masaki ihara integrates house with tiered foundation into japanese hillside



the tiered foundation is composed of three levels that step down 80cm each, following the surface of the slope from east to west. the second floor projects out by 1.8m on both the east and west side, and functions as an intermediate space that ties the indoor and outdoor areas together. the highest step on the east side acts as a buffer space between the house and the road, and also becomes an entrance porch and a porte-cochère. in addition, this step is extended 90cm inward towards the house to provide a kitchen counter at the same level as the road, study desk for children and a landing for the stairs leading up to the second floor.

masaki ihara integrates house with tiered foundation into japanese hillside
the transparent 1st floor houses the kitchen and the dining area



‘I wanted to create an apartment where glances from neighbors walking on the front road will not be confronted, nor shut out’ masaki ihara says. large transparent surfaces complete the dwelling, partially revealing what happens inside, while also connecting the interior with the lush surrounding vegetation. in addition, the step on the west side acts as a terrace that cantilevers out as if to dive into the trees, creating a place where one can enjoy the sunlight and pleasant breeze.

masaki ihara integrates house with tiered foundation into japanese hillside
trees and the city are visible through the house

masaki ihara integrates house with tiered foundation into japanese hillside

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kitchen, desk, stair landing, entrance

three tiered platforms 10
the terrace opening towards the city

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project info:


project name: three-tiered platforms
architecture office: ihrmk
lead architect: masaki ihara
location: nisshin, aichi, japan



designboom has received this project from our ‘DIY submissions‘ feature, where we welcome our readers to submit their own work for publication. see more project submissions from our readers here.


edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom


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