located in the historic osaka sakai, japan, ryuichi ashizawa architects & associates has built private residence with an attached egg-shaped tomb. challenging the idea that tombs are built only for emperors and powerful people, with this project, the architects aimed to explore if they could create such a structure within the premises of a regular house.

minami hanada tomb no 50 1all images courtesy of ryuichi ashizawa architects & associates



as a result of investigation by ryuichi ashizawa architects & associates, it turned out that creating a cemetery in a residential area is legally prohibited. the present housing design seems to face ‘life’ but not ‘death’, meaning that rooms are planned based on functions, on lively activities of residents, and it is difficult to plan blank spaces that do not want specific function. normally, the typical place in the house referring to the dead is the altar, however the architect thought that he would like to create a house that is unconventional, containing a space that feels dark, and symbolizing death.

minami hanada tomb no 50 2
the staircase



the living space has a double-skinned structure below the gable roof, with an earthen corridor and rim around it. between the ground floor and the rim, there is a buffer space that creates a gentle relationship with the outside. four layers of bookshelves are provided between the structure wall and the sliding door facing the buffer area, responding to the residents’ request to create a library-like place that local children and other nearby residents could visit. the outer walls are made of baked cedar and the interior space is finished with a wooden structure.

minami hanada tomb no 50 3
1st floor living room – 2nd floor area



the house is completed with a distinct egg-like form, a blowout space of 6.4 m in height. within this structure, there is a staircase connecting the first floor living room and second floor where the bedrooms are located. meanwhile, this room was also created as an empty, ‘intermediate’ area in everyday life. it has two small dome spaces inside, a bathroom and a laundry room. in addition, the otani stone fence of the dismantled existing house is reused as paving stones and the original existing gardens are left behind as they were.

minami hanada tomb no 50 4
living room



in summer, the fixtures can be adjusted in order to allow wind to enter the building while restricting direct sunlight from entering. during the winter, the living room takes in sunlight, stores heat by the soil between the floors, and closes the sliding door, generating an indoor environment that is not easily affected by the external conditions. the rooms on the second floor also form a podium-like space that is not easily affected by the outside environment by closing the shoji sliding door and the movable ceiling.

minami hanada tomb no 50 5
view from bedroom 1 to bedroom 2



at first, bamboo was layered spherically, and split bamboo parts were woven like a fence while a dome was made of soil. it had to be made of wood, but it was difficult to use something like curved laminated timber, due to its high cost. as a result of trial and error on how to make a spherical surface with a straight wooden members, a large bow-shaped ‘framework’ was created by putting two pieces of short-cut wood together, shifting the cut, ‘sandwiching’ it with a plywood board and fastening it with screws. then, the parts were arranged radially to form the entire framework, a plywood board was attached, and a soil wall was used to form a strong cubic structure with only straight and flat members.

minami hanada tomb no 50 6
bedroom 2


minami hanada tomb no 50 7
structure skeleton – physical model


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structure view


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interior plastering


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front elevation rendering


minami hanada tomb no 50 11
sectional perspective


minami hanada tomb no 50 9
environmental diagram




project info:


name: minami hanada tomb (no.50)

architecture office: ryuichi ashizawa architects & associates

location: sakai city, osaka, japan




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edited by: myrto katsikopoulou | designboom