Boxes Stacked on the Side of a Cliff Form this Home in Hiroshima

When architect duo Mai and Kazuhiro Narita first came to view a plot of land for which they were being asked to construct a family residence, two things immediately became clear. First, the site, situated on the side of a cliff, offered stunning views of the city of Hiroshima. But second, no heavy equipment would be able to access it. Solving for both parts of the equation would go on to inform the ultimate shape of the house.

Aside from being situated on the side of a cliff, another feature of the plot of land was that it was divided into two parts by an old stone wall with one part elevated. The architects came up with the idea of stacking boxes and building upwards as a natural response to the cliff but also as a way to avoid the need for bringing in any heavy equipment. The home is appropriately called hako, meaning box in Japanese. The stop-motion video below gives you a good idea of the process:

Separated by the wall and elevation, the completed house is comprised of two parts. Sitting above is the mother house where an open kitchen, dining room and patio offers stunning views and the perfect space to entertain guests. Below, and on the other side of the wall, are the private spaces like bedrooms and the bathroom.

The architect duo became independent last year and formed their own practice called Kufu. This is one of their first projects as a team. Prior to that, Mari Narita sent several years at Junya Ishigami & Associates while Kazuhiro Narita is an alumni of Taisei Design.


  1. Hi
    This development us something else. Just live the juxtaposition of the walls and the outside finish.

  2. Love the idea but the fact is that this is ALL about the foundations. And there is no indication ho those were dealt with. Anyone can pile aesthetic boxes together but making this structure structurally sound on a hillside is the really really hard part, and here apparently the fairies did that.

    • While I am sure that foundations don’t make for interesting articles, and so probably aren’t talked about here, in Hiroshima, landslides and slips are a MAJOR issue. In the huge floods almost 2 years ago, there was a significant amount of houses (and lives) lost due to land slippage. As someone who lives in Hiroshima, I would be extremely hesitant about building on steep slope.

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