The Miyawaki Gurindo housing complex under construction, with greenery still to come. Real Estate Japan, Keita Nagata

One unit’s roof serves as another unit's garden.

We’ve seen homes and villas built into mountainsides. But a recently completed project in Japan puts an entire seven-unit residential complex into one.

Located in the Kagawa prefecture’s capital Takamatsu, the Miyawaki Gurindo complex is built into the foot of Mineyama mountain. Since about 75 percent of Japan’s land area is covered by mountains, the project demonstrates a practical approach to a common challenge.

Designed by architect Keita Nagata of Keita Nagata Architectural Element (link in Japanese), the undulating complex took two and a half years to complete. It features five levels, with one unit’s roof serving as another’s garden. The bottom two levels each have two units, while the highest unit has a second floor.

Floorplans of the Miyawaki Gurindo complex. (Keita Nagata)

By building into a mountain, Nagata took advantage of natural insulation and geothermal temperature control. Each unit has a stable indoor temperature of around 15 degrees Celsius (59 degrees Fahrenheit), complemented by cooling and heating tubes buried below and connected to fresh air.

A rendering of the Miyawaki Gurindo complex showing the air ducts below the units. (Keita Nagata)

Some potential residents might worry about earthquakes, so Nagata employed steel-reinforced concrete for the outside walls.

The bottom units rent for 66,000 yen ($530), the top one for 135,000 yen ($1,090). Designed for single people, the bottom units feature a bedroom, living room, and kitchen and measure just 30 square meters (323 square feet). The other units, meant for families, have about 75 sq m (807 sq ft). All the units have yards, except on the lowest level.

A rendering of the Miyawaki Gurindo complex, with the greenery. (Keita Nagata)

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

More from Quartz:

China’s Looming Stock Market Disaster Is Part 1929 America, Part 1989 Japan

Google Wants to Index Your Real-World Experiences and Make Them Searchable

How Bees, Hummingbirds, and Butterflies Keep Humans Healthy

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: Interstate 70 near Odessa, Mo.
    Transportation

    A Transportation Grant Program's Trump-Era Rebrand

    Under Trump, an Obama-era transportation grant program designed to fund innovative multi-modal projects became a rural highway-building machine.

  2. Life

    Tailored Place-Based Policies Are Key to Reducing Regional Inequality

    Economist Timothy Bartik details the need for place-based policy to combat regional inequality and help distressed places—strategies outlined in his new book.

  3. photo: Helsinki's national library
    Design

    How Helsinki Built ‘Book Heaven’

    Finland’s most ambitious library has a lofty mission, says Helsinki’s Tommi Laitio: It’s a kind of monument to the Nordic model of civic engagement.

  4. Three men wearing suits raise shovels full of dirt in front of an American flag.
    Equity

    How Cities and States Can Stop the Incentive Madness

    Economist Timothy Bartik explains why the public costs of tax incentives often outweigh the benefits, and describes a model business-incentive package.

  5. Equity

    Bernie Sanders and AOC Unveil a Green New Deal for Public Housing

    The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act would commit up to $180 billion over a decade to upgrading 1.2 million federally owned homes.

×