Hitoshi Saruta / CUBO design architect - The Circus, a living room to spend time with the car
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The Circus, a living room to spend time with the car

Hitoshi Saruta / CUBO design architect

House  /  Completed
Hitoshi Saruta / CUBO design architect

The client asked for a large space to spend time with the car. What I had in mind was a "living room to spend time with the car," a house where the car and people live at the same time. Considering the cost, I came up with the idea of using a wooden structure (wooden structures are the most inexpensive to construct in Japan), and came up with the structure of a circus tent. It seemed the best structural form to create a large pillar-less space with a wooden structure. The private space was then placed in the center of the large space as a table-shaped, freestanding second floor, where people can enjoy their leisure time while feeling the presence of their beloved car from anywhere.

The site is located in a residential area about 300 meters from the sea and far from the city center. The site is relatively large, and clients and guests approach this building by car. Since many guests are expected to visit the building and parking space is necessary, we designed the exterior of the building to allow parking for several cars. The client wanted a building with a strong character, and we arrived at this shape, but as the site is located in a typical Japanese residential area, we decided on an undulating exterior plan,By slightly reducing the volume of the building visible from the street and using the exterior as a buffer, we tried to reduce the odd shape of the building, which does not generally look like a "house".

The structural form of the building is made of wood to reduce cost, but also to reduce environmental impact. The wooden frame is made of laminated wood using thinning trees lumber, which provides structural strength and reduces the burden on the environment. In addition, the thermal insulation performance of the exterior skin is much higher than the Japanese thermal insulation standard, and the building is designed with few windows and the shape of the windows are considered to reduce the heat load , providing a comfortable space regardless of the season.

“Spending time with cars” is the concept behind this vacation house intended as a fun retreat for a car-loving client and friends. In contrast to a typical house with a built-in garage, the aim here was to blur the boundaries between people, cars, and rooms in a relaxed environment. The client’s desire for a house that could easily and flexibly be used in various ways gave rise to the circular plan. Because the design has no dead-ends and allows people and cars to move freely throughout the first story, it accommodates many layouts while providing an extreme version of the “impracticality” often sought in vacation homes. The structure uses conventional construction materials to keep costs low, while advanced precut timber technology and precision steel hardware manufacturing technology enable the unusual form. The first story is a “garage living” space shared by people and cars, with functionality concentrated in the core and outer rim. The second story is a private space containing the owner’s bedroom and a central jacuzzi with a waterfall shower. Viewed from below, the frame of the house evokes an open paper umbrella, an intentional reference to Japanese design. The client has a playful personality and suggested many fun ideas that we incorporated throughout the house, and on weekends it is filled with car-loving friends.

The lighting scheme is wonderful and I am happy to see my car looking so beautiful. I enjoy my vacations by having parties with friends, relaxing alone, enjoying the fireplace, and reading books, and I couldn't be happier and have a wonderful time vacationing in a space with my favorite car. It is a pleasure and a source of pride to see our guests amazed by my vacation house.


 Chiba, Japan
 312 mq
 Hitoshi Saruta / CUBO design architect
 Structural engineer : Masaki-lab
 Koji Fujii / TOREAL


Born in 1971 in Nagano, Japan, Hitoshi Saruta graduated from Yokohama National University (faculty of Business Administration) and started his career as a carpenter and construction manager. Later, he began working at a design company (home and shop design) before founding CUBO design architect in 2004. Unable to give up on his dream of becoming an architect, Saruta continued to study on his own until his dream was finally realized in 2007. While he is now an established professional among the leading Japanese architects of his generation, Saruta spent his early years cultivating a passion for the violin and then working as a carpenter. His unique approach to each and every one of his architectural projects, regardless of scale, is appreciated by all of his clients. Saruta has received accolades domestically in Japan, and from Germany, China, Italy and the United States. In 2021, he launched the “HITOSHI SARUTA” brand to design high-end architecture around the world.


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