CUBO design architect Hitoshi Saruta


We aim to create structures and spaces with a strong contrast of light and shadows, which add beauty and sustainability for years to come.
We focus not only on versatility, but on how to appeal to one’s visual sense and evoke thought.


Location: Kamakura City, Kanagawa, Japan
Principal Use: Residence
Structure: RC
Total Floor Area: 506.78m2
Period: 2018.5 to 2019.9
Photo: Koichi Torimura

This is a house for a couple of French artist (husband) and Japanese wife who are based in Japan, France and the United States and very interested in aesthetic of Japanese garden, culture and architecture.

The house is nestled quietly on the top of hill in Kamakura in Japan, a historic ancient city, and facing to wonderful scenery, overlooking the Shonan coastline and facing Mt. Fuji, a symbol of Japan, in the distance.

The clients became interested in Japanese culture through Japanese Tea Celemony and Japanese garden gradually for long time. Finally they decided to move in Japan. This is a place for them to settle and live to the end with their dream.

In addition to their comfort in the house, they required a function to invite guests from foreign country and a feast for the eyes through this architecture like guest house.

In response to the requests from clients, we defined architectural themes below:

- Deal with symbolic and beautiful view and nature as architecture is always response to site.
- Japanese modern style that incorporate traditional methods, practices and materials.
- Guests can feel aesthetic of Japan through the architecture comfortably.

Façade is completely closed design to street side by concrete wall to emphasize privacy, while it is fully opened to the good direction of the landscape as much as possible. The architectural layout and open-close study make it possible to remove disturbing structure from field of view, so that you can focus on the majestic nature and wonderful scenery only.

One of Characteristic of Japanese architecture that represents Sukiya building is beauty of continuous eaves. That’s not only design, but also function to cut rain and direct sunlight.

We design the traditional continuous eaves in a modern way by making it sharp and thin in details as well as challenging using new material such as steel plate in structure and finish.

We also believe that Japanese architecture has been powerfully but delicately designed, taking advantage of the potential of the materials themselves.

We avoided, as much as possible, installing industrial finishes represented by recent plastic houses, while using traditional Japanese materials, such as granite, Japanese paper, black plaster, wood lattice and louver for total coordination, so that all the foreigner can feel Japanese features.

We hope these hybrids of Japanese modern design make integration with site, nature and deep exchange with people who visit this place.


Location: Matsumoto City, Nagano, Japan
Principal Use: Residence, Piano hall
Structure: Wood
Total Floor Area: (Residence) 248.04m2, (Piano hall) 35.80m2
Period: 2015.2 to 2017.12
Photo: Koichi Torimura
This is Saruta’s family house, facing the ridgelines of the beautiful mountains and Matsumoto Castle and Matsumotodaira below the site. We believe that the most important thing in this kind of location house is how to frame the beauty and change of nature such as sky color, flow of clouds and expression of mountains, so that we find forever full of fresh discoveries. The random opening which seems to be opened freely at first sight is window which is actually arranged with various sizes, depths, finishes, shapes and heights to be able to enjoy various sequences when walking and sitting. Barnacle shape of bay window is a device to makes the appearance impressive as well as raise shadow volume inside. The road side was closed to secure privacy, but on the other hand, the landscape side is completely opened like single side lighting house. In addition, we set up a music building for pianists as well in the same site. We design beautiful wood structure beam with the idea of Kaburatsuka like traditional Matsumoto house but arrange to modern and minimal. We believe that we were able to have a free-firing and bold internal composition.
2019 The Plan Award shortlisted, Italy
2019 Nagano Prefecture Architecture and Culture Award, Japan


Location: Shizuoka City, Shizuoka, Japan
Principal Use: Showroom
Structure: Reinforced concrete
Total Floor Area: 64.85m2
Period: 2018.9 to 2019.3
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
This showroom, located on the ground floor tenant along the cherry blossom street, is for a construction company that works with an architect. The concept is to make interior a real high finished house as a place where visitors can experience the house made by the architect more realistically. Three zone, living, dining and study divided by floor finish and ceiling design to give a sense of unity can be used separately for deferent clients. While representing a sense of high quality material, we also used a bamboo louver on the ceiling to create a friendly atmosphere. All furniture is proposed from CUBO design architect as well.


Kanagawa Prefecture Oiso-machi
Site area: 337.89m2
Building area: 110.032m2
Total floor area: 146.882m2
Structural design: NAWAKEN-GYM Kenji Nawa
Constructor: Nagano Construction Co., Ltd.
Period: 2010.11 to 2013.9
Photo: Hiroshi Ueda / Yasuno Sakata
This is a unique project with an elevation gap of 14 meters, and an inclination of 70 degrees at maximum. Residents will be in total awe of the phenomenal view of the horizon. The design of the structures was drafted with the image of several floating wooden boxes hanging from zelkova and maple trees, which immediately captures our attention upon entering the premises. The cantilevers of 4meters by 14 meters are supported by RC slabs and thin steel frames as the branches that support the wooden box. As half of a story – legally considered a basement- is underground, the openings allow sunlight to enter and softly illuminate the room. This emphasizes the contrast and graduation of light and shadows. This residence appeals strongly to the eyes and truly embraces the concept of nature and natural light throughout the building. This project can be considered the perfect combination of Civil Engineering and Architectural Development.
"cnest" was selected in "Best of March" (2014) in domus web site.


Location: Odawara City, Kanagawa, Japan
Date of Completion: September, 2016
Principal Use: Residence
Structure: RC+Wood
Building Area: 123.90m2
Site Area: 318.0m2
Total Floor Area: 187 m2 (74 m2/1F, 113m2/2F)
Period: 2015.1 to 2016.9
Photo: Hiroshi Ueda
Located in a terraced residential district, the lot for this project was half flat and half sloping. Nearby is Odawara Castle, built in the 15th century. The property looks down on the neighborhood that grew up around the castle, and beyond that Sagami Bay and Enoshima island in the distance. The client, who was born and raised in Odawara, wanted a relaxing home where he and his family could look out on this familiar yet constantly changing landscape. We envisioned a mid-air space with all the core elements for daily living lifted up onto the second story, and thought about how to bring the scenery of Odawara into every room. The entryway, guest room, and music room had to be located on the ground floor, so we proposed raising everything else up above them. The three ground-floor elements are located inside two boxy feet that support the second floor. The feet are connected by a single large slab that runs down to the road, and on top of this sits the light wood-framed structure containing the remaining rooms. The children's bedroom is located in a section of the structure that angles down diagonally due to the slope of the road; directly below is the approach used by students who take piano lessons with the client. Outside, part of the sloped area was terraced using sheet piles so the family can grow a vegetable garden. Passing through the dim entryway and up the stairs, one emerges into a space filled with light from large windows that overlook a sweeping view of Odawara. The gently linked rooms are divided into zones by differing floor elevations and ceiling heights, but one can enjoy the views and natural light from each space. Lifted into the air by its strong, boxy feet, this home provides a comfortable window onto nature's ever-changing scenery.

KATO kohki

Location: Hiratsuka city, Kanagawa, Japan
Principal Use: Showroom
Structure: interior design
Total Floor Area: 35.0 m2
Period: 2017.6 to 2018.10
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
This is a project of remodeling a part of machine tool factory to their showroom. 6M×6M presentation space displays main machine to explain the performance as well as to have a meeting and conference with clients and for staff to take a rest in free time. As a place to convey the pride and quality of "Made in Japan" manufacturing that has been devised over the years, we propose a kind of strong sense of design by using materials continued from ancient times in Japan such as iron, black slate and Oya stone. In addition, we added wood grid to make the robot space that tends to be inorganic warm and close to people. We also pay attention to make contrast between black stucco wall and white robot to standing it out.


Location: Nishiyashiro city, Yamanashi, Japan
Principal Use: Residence, atelier
Structure: Wood
Total Floor Area: (Residence)143.58m2,(Atelier) 46.27m2
Period: 2016.11 to 2018.6
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
This is a planning in a relaxing place facing magnificent mountains in the city of Kofu. The site is divided into two, one of them is for family house, and the other is for their parent’s atelier. While enjoying a wonderful landscape as much as possible, the building was made into a house shape so as not to destroy the tranquil air feeling. Because the house for family needs a connection with the beautiful nature and the atelier is assumed to be multi-purpose use, we planed central garden as a space to be connected for the family to feel mutual awareness with a sense of distance. We hope children crawled around in the place that close to the rich nature and all family enjoys outdoor living without feeling the boundary between the inside and the outside as well as starting point of local exchange in multi-purpose.


Location: Yokohama, Kanagawa, Japan
Principal Use: Restaurant
Total Floor Area: 120.0 m2
Period: 2017.5 to 2018.8
Photo: Yasuno Sakata, Hideo Mori
Edotoku is an eel restaurant with a long history, since1887. This project is to make their new restaurant with contemporary design. We express “open” and “closed” in design of space to control overall balance not only planning, but also by using wood framing design and indirect lighting that suggest direction feeling in your eyes.

Reno-K (Renovation)

Location: Okazaki City, Aichi, Japan
Date of Completion: August, 2017
Principal Use: Residence
Structure: RC
Total Floor Area: 312.97m2
Period: 2016.8 to 2017.8
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
This is a renovation project of a whole house which the client has lived in since childhood and received it from their parents. While hesitating to dramatically change the place of various memories, we aimed at making it as hotel’s lounge by leaving composition of the existing house. We decided to keep windows and opening to harmony with the façade and garden which the garden has been landscaped with care by parents. In order to make beautiful sequence from interior to the garden, we carefully design floor material and control ceiling height as zoning for each spaces. In addition, the selection of a profound sense of materials and lighting plan which leads silent mood makes the garden stand out. We also designed a dining table, and proposed a selection of furniture in this project.


Location: Suzuka City, Mie, Japan
Date of Completion: August, 2017
Principal Use: Residence
Structure: RC+Wood
Total Floor Area: 199.45m2
Period: 2015.10 to 2017.8
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
This project is located in Suzuka city, well known for the most famous F-1 circuit in Japan. Therefore, the client is a big fan of a car, so that the fist request is to securely but beautifully store his car collections as well as his cute motor bike. To store 3 cars in this tricky shape of the site which is composed of 20M passage from street to buildable space, there is no right angle in building shape to realize smooth in and out parking. This is also true that it makes this project difficult, especially beam - column connection, but we believe that difficulty becomes impressive in the end. On the first floor, there is a place for a car and husband’s space. In order to make the cars look as beautiful as possible, squeezed natural light is invited from court yard. Second floor is designed for a family space, living dining kitchen, which has a high-side window that reach up to the sky. Even though it doesn’t have opening to south side, the hi-side window make this space enoughly bright. It was designed to take care of the balance of the hobby and life.


Location: Kamakura city, Kanagawa, Japan
Principal Use: Residence
Structure: Wood
Total Floor Area: 139.12m2
Period: 2017.5 to 2018.10
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
Surrounded by aged trees, this is a planning in Kamakura-like forest. This house, where trees and flowers approach, should be designed with the landscape, so we thought that it should be a dignified figure, but standing quietly covered by the existing green as it should be. The window plan which opened fully toward the green of the garden and the mountain is also consideration of the solar radiation which is obstructed by the trees, in order to make it an internal space integrated more naturally. I hope the client to enjoy the rubbing sounds of the trees, the chirping of the birds, and beautiful aged green.


Location: Mitaka City, Tokyo, Japan
Date of Completion: December, 2016 Principal Use: Residence+Atelier Structure: Wood
Building Area: 91.21m2
Site Area: 157.82m2
Total Floor Area: 160.74 m2 (85.07 m2/1F, 75.67m2/2F)
Period: 2015.6 to 2016.12
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
Cocoon, designed for jewelry designer, is located at tricky pentagon’s shape of site. Because this site is in residential area, we need to carefully deal with relationship with street, so we started to design wood clusters like "cocoon" to control privacy, but make it outstanding for jewelry atelier. In addition, we made slit between atelier and house like courtyard to get light and vent air for both. The angle of 45 degree, naturally derived from the site shape, creates interesting feeling in each room. For the client who wanted to live simply and beautifully, interior is produced by squeezed light and stately materials, while eliminating ornamental decoration as much as possible. We hope that it will become a house with attachment through a time long.


Oiso, Kanagawa, Japan
Date of Completion: December, 2015
Principal Use: Residence
Structure: Wood
Building Area: 59.45m2
Site Area: 141.45m2
Total Floor Area: 111.10m2 (58.44m2/1F, 52.66m2/2F)
Period: 2014.6 to 2015.12
Photo: Koichi Torimura
Overlooking the Sagami Bay to the east and Mt. Fuji in the point of forest to the west, this house "MaOL" is located at the best view point surrounded by nature. Because the client request is to feel the spacious view and nature’s atmosphere maximally from the house, we set up the concept of the house which is getting better little by little by the color of the sky, nature transitory and the angle of light. The angular shape of interior, which is created by drawing a line along the street, makes depth and unique shadow in the space. The variety size of opening may be looked like randomly being placed at first sight. However, to arrange the placement, we simulated life scene, a line of sight from the outside, height of eyes when walking and sitting in LDK and the angle of light. In addition, “Fujitsubo”, uniquely projected mortar frame, not only trim the scenery, but also being a device to make shadow contrast strong.


Oiso, Kanagawa, Japan
Date of Completion: March, 2016
Principal Use: Residence
Structure: Wood
Building Area: 63.24m2
Site Area: 234.85m2
Total Floor Area: 112.80m2 (52.88m2/1F, 59.92m2/2F)
Period: 2015.1 to 2016.3
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
Enjoyable great view from the site, this house is located on the top of the hill to be able to overlooking the Hiratsuka City in front, a distant view of Enoshima and Miura Peninsula to the east. There is no choice in zoning of building because of 2 separate ground levels in mostly triangular shape of the site and short length of connecting road. In addition, here is not good accessibility. However, the client decided to live along with this beautiful scenery and green. Spiral form of the building comes from various requests and restriction by the site shape. Interior space finish that has been unified in a dark color has been selected to feel more strongly the large amount of falling light from the large opening. When going up the stairs through the dark space, we would be wrapped in dazzling light. Once the retina gets a rapid contraction, eyes get used to the darkness and finally horizontal line appears. Lush greenery and Sagami bay of blue are beautifully trimmed and the stunning view is burned in the mind at the same time. In the house surrounded by nature, we imagine that the client family play with their children while lie down in the scenery.


Kanagawa Prefecture Kamakura-shi
Site area: 244.20m2
Building area: 92.81m2
Total floor area: 153.62m2
Constructor: Daido Kogyo Co., Ltd.
Period: 2012.3 to 2013.4
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
This residence is located in the mountains, far removed from the hustle and bustle of the city. To truly experience the fine view, the windows in the living room on the second floor can be fully opened. Though the layout may appear to be simple, residents can appreciate the texture of the stones and wood, and are provided with an atmosphere of luxury and sophistication in harmony with nature. One can use all five senses to appreciate the nature and tranquility of Kamakura, especially the sense of smell as wood burns in the fireplace.

Reno-F (Renovation)

Kanagawa Prefecture Zushi-shi
Site area: 403.53m2
Building area: 149.772
Total floor area: 248.79m2
Constructor: Daigo group
Period:2012.10 to 2014.03
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
This is a renovation project that we redesign mainly interior of existing RC house after make it skelton. The house is located away from the hustle and bustle of Zushi. Request from the client, who live in downtown, Tokyo and use this house for a second house, is to recreate this old unuseful house to comfortable space in all seasons, with a modern specs. We totally reconstruct a circulation collaborated with a program in the space that has been zoned by materials as well as controlling an intensity of the light and shadows, for example entrance, living space and garden. From entrance to living space, warm colored materials are installed as a continuous pass way across the existing opening towards the garden from interior to exterior. The first floor is configured as a large space for party, while the second floor is programmed for kids play and music studio that is client's interest. This house is finished up with a feeling of the warmth and tranquility as a hideaway for family.


Kanagawa Prefecture Oiso-machi
Site area: 161.03m2
Building area: 55.21m2
Total floor area: 99.42m2
Constructor: Nagano Construction Co., Ltd.
Period: 2011.11 to 2013.6
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
While drafting the design of cnest, we received an offer to design a house on the neighboring lot by sheer coincidence. Although the layouts are quite similar to each other due to similar terms and conditions of construction, SOL has defining characteristics of embracing light and framing scenery. Designed using sequential repetition, the unusual arrangement of large square windows provides residents with a breath-taking view from almost every angle. Whether sitting, standing, or walking, one will have a picturesque view at any given hour of the day. We have designed a quiet house filled with light by once again controlling the contrast of light and shadows. The views are equally beautiful at dusk, as one has an impressive view of the sun melting into the lush landscape surrounded by the Oiso Mountains.
"SOL" was selected in "Best on Archilovers 2015"


Aichi Prefecture Nagoya-shi
Site area: 338.3m2
Building area: 160.1m2
Total floor area: 225.92m2
Constructor: Belive Co., Ltd.
Period: 2014.5 to 2014.12
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
COLORS is a house planned for clients who consists of father and daughter. This project is highly required the elements of the interior design as well as architectural plan. Entrance hall is composed of a large-long slit atrium and roughly painted mortar stairs, functionally dividing the father and daughter's living area as a buffer zone. The symmetrically installed slit top light is dictated an impression of the space as if the light pours down in the dark staircase such as a setting of a film. The father's living area, right side from the entrance hall, is a simple Japanese modern. In addition, independent atelier, floating wood box located in a center court, is also designed with the modern Japanese out looking and domed ceiling, reflecting natural light vaguely. For daughter's space, left side from the entrance hall, Washitsu is placed at the first floor and home to the courtyard to chill with her guests. The Washitsu is coordinated with more vivid colors such as red painted wall, black Tatami and colored Andon as well as Fusuma which is originally painted. Main bedroom in the second floor is designed like a designers hotel in Europe instead of traditional Japanese color coordination as it makes her positive in the art.


Yamaguchi Prefecture Shimonoseki-shi
Site area: 297.16m2
Building area: 106.65m2
Total floor area: 174.60m2
Constructor: Tokimori Kensetsu Co., Ltd.
Period: 2011.7 to 2013.10
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
This residence is located in Shimonoseki City; the western most tip of Honshu- the main island of Japan. The essential theme for this project was to emphasize the fantastic ocean view of Hibiki-nada- the sea close to the Kanmon Strait. As this is a site with strong winds, the building was constructed diagonally to the coastline which allows winds to pass with little or no disturbance. The windows trimming the scenery at various angles allow you to discover the beauty of the sky. Though this offer came from the southern tip of Honshu Island, we were able to build a strong bond with our client and develop a relationship based on trust and mutual understanding.


Suginami, Tokyo, Japan
Building Area : 57.12 m2
Site Area : 115.71 m2
Total Floor Area : 107.98m2
Constructor : Uchida Sangyo Co., Ltd.
Period: 2014.3 to 2015.5
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
BHT, Suginami city in Tokyo, is located at right next to the farm, a open space towards the sky in a dense residential area. Because the site is recessed from main street, only entrance is visible. We carefully draw a line to make the visible facade stand out by the pointed eaves. In the entrance hall, continuity from inside to the courtyard towards the foliage and sky, divided by non-framed glass, promote residents who come back comfort. Going up to the second floor, 3 different level of the scene are framed by windows. As well as the design concept which utilizes the characteristics of the site, material coordination does space rich more. Main material is mortar that is yet hard impression, but not going too much modern taste by creating soft texture. The mortar dining table and kitchen's top is set same level as living floor to create continuity in the space, even the floor level of dining and living are different. We believe that these factors, floor level difference, continuity of material, and 3 framed windows, direct beautiful sequence and timeless.


Kanagawa Prefecture Kamakura-shi
Program:Hair salon
Total floor area: 127.12m2
Constructor: Kebukawa Construction
Period: 2013.10 to 2014.3
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
This hair salon "BLISS" is a tenant interior design project on the second floor of the building, located near the Komachi St. in Kamakura. Request from the client is hybrid of 2 main identity in Kamakura, luxury and surf culture, which is a proposed analysis of preference and age group of the target that comes from the client's experience. We set the light effect to enjoy different feeling from natural light in daytime to indirect illumination at night. In the entrance, after walking throw 2 main gate silently on the carpet as a check in high class hotel, counseling and reception counter is placed as if a concierge desk. Next to the counter, waiting space surrounded by white bamboo has a function of a buffer between cut space and lounge space. Between cut space and shampoo space, green screen is installed as a see throw partition, creating the soft atmosphere of the space. We challenged to direct two atmosphere in one space by changing contrast of light effect with material.


Fuji, Shizuoka, Japan
Date of Completion: Jun, 2016
Principal Use: Residence
Structure: Wood
Building Area: 112.36m2
Site Area: 299.98m2
Total Floor Area: 145.68m2 (107.41m2/1F, 38.27m2/2F)
Period: 2015.1 to 2016.6
Photo: Yasuno Sakata
This site is located in a peaceful place facing in front of the tea plantation, nearby Mt.Fuji, so the request of this house FUH is “playful house for their family to feel time goes slowly that becomes precious memory. LDK mainly consists of a one-story of the large triangle roof, and the canopy is attached to it to distinguish the living room from other connected space. Because we design various places’ details acutely, the interior space is recognized as sharp and unique Japanese modern. In addition, to mix the medium range of Japanese colors materials creates relaxing atmosphere. We imaged the house will be a place for their children to run around, jumping and hanging...the house itself produce their own original memory for a long time. It was conscientiously completed over a good craftsman team while we think such a thing.


About Us

CUBO Design Architect is an architectural design office led by Hitoshi Saruta, based in Oiso, Kanagawa prefecture in Japan.
We not only design a variety of spaces and structures such as houses, commercial buildings, public building, apartment buildings and flats, but we also do renovations and product and graphic design.
We welcome requests from any part of Japan as well as overseas.


Founder/President : Hitoshi Saruta

2019 The Plan Award shortlisted, Italy
2019 Nagano Prefecture Architecture and Culture Award, Japan
2016 Kanagawa Prefecture Architectural Competition, Japan
2015 International Design Award, Silver Medal, USA
2006 Good Design Award, Japan
2006- He was the winner of the Good Design Award
2004- He established "CUBO Design Architect"
1995- He graduated from Yokohama National University Department of Management. After working as a carpenter and construction manager for a construction company, he engaged in housing and store design at a design office in Kanagawa prefecture.
1971- He was born in Nagano prefecture

Record of past media coverage

- Casabella (Italy)
- Domus WEB (Italy)
- Archidaily WEB (Chili)
- dezeen WEB (England)
- Designboom WEB (Italy)
- 150 Best New House Idea (Spain)
- Small and Chic (USA)
- Hinge (Hong Kong)
- Fifty Under Fifty (Australia)
- Casa Brutus Iezukuri no kyokasho (Japan)
- Shin kenchiku Jyutaku Tokushu (Japan)
- Casa Brutus (Japan)
- Modern Living (Japan)


Contact Information: CUBO design architect

Contact Details

  • CUBO design architect
  • Tokyo Head Office
    PARKSIDE 6-303, 9-5-12 akasaka, minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan, 107-0052
    TEL +81 3-6455-4669
  • Atelier in Oiso
    661-123, higashikoiso, oiso-machi, naka-gun, Kanagawa, Japan, 255-0004
    TEL +81 463-74-6932
    FAX +81 463-74-6933
  • Atelier in Matsumoto
    5-4-21-5, arigasaki, matsumoto-shi, Nagano, Japan, 390-0861
  • * * *
  • Agent
    JIAC(Japan International Architectural design Center)