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Going Underground: 3 Houses Built Into the Land

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Some of the coolest houses, literally and figuratively, are underground—built into the land. To see three subterranean high-design homes, click through our slideshow.
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  Architect Byoung Soo Cho’s Earth House is quite possibly one of the classiest dugouts ever built. Set amid peaceful woods and rice fields an hour east of Seoul, Korea, the subterranean structure consists of six tiny unadorned rooms (kitchen, library, two bedrooms, and a bathroom) and a 23-by-23-foot courtyard. Cho describes the house, dedicated to Korean poet Dong-joo Yoon, as a place for self-reflection. He says the concept goes back to his 1991 graduate thesis at Harvard, where he began exploring Taoist ideas about negative and positive space, and the question of just how much (or little) space we need in order to live comfortably. Sixteen years and several unsuccessful attempts at selling an underground house later, Cho finally decided to build one for himself. Earth House was completed in February 2009 on a lot down the road from Cho’s more conventional vacation home, the square-shaped Concrete Box House. He currently uses the Earth House for weekend gatherings and stargazing. Photo by Wooseop Hwang.  Photo by: Wooseop Hwang

    Architect Byoung Soo Cho’s Earth House is quite possibly one of the classiest dugouts ever built. Set amid peaceful woods and rice fields an hour east of Seoul, Korea, the subterranean structure consists of six tiny unadorned rooms (kitchen, library, two bedrooms, and a bathroom) and a 23-by-23-foot courtyard. Cho describes the house, dedicated to Korean poet Dong-joo Yoon, as a place for self-reflection. He says the concept goes back to his 1991 graduate thesis at Harvard, where he began exploring Taoist ideas about negative and positive space, and the question of just how much (or little) space we need in order to live comfortably. Sixteen years and several unsuccessful attempts at selling an underground house later, Cho finally decided to build one for himself. Earth House was completed in February 2009 on a lot down the road from Cho’s more conventional vacation home, the square-shaped Concrete Box House. He currently uses the Earth House for weekend gatherings and stargazing. Photo by Wooseop Hwang.

    Photo by: Wooseop Hwang

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  Edgeland House, built on a cliff-top lot in Austin by architect Thomas Bercy for lawyer and writer Chris Brown, is topped by a living roof to help it blend into the landscape. The concrete, steel, and glass house is divided into two distinct public and private halves. Photo by Dave Mead.  Photo by: Dave Mead

    Edgeland House, built on a cliff-top lot in Austin by architect Thomas Bercy for lawyer and writer Chris Brown, is topped by a living roof to help it blend into the landscape. The concrete, steel, and glass house is divided into two distinct public and private halves. Photo by Dave Mead.

    Photo by: Dave Mead

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  This home is Cumbria’s First Earth-Sheltered House built in an old quarry site and finished in 2003 after 6 months of construction. It doesn't need a heating system and being underground means that the house disappears into the landscape "making it unobtrusive visually as well as ecologically." Learn more about earth-sheltered homes.

    This home is Cumbria’s First Earth-Sheltered House built in an old quarry site and finished in 2003 after 6 months of construction. It doesn't need a heating system and being underground means that the house disappears into the landscape "making it unobtrusive visually as well as ecologically." Learn more about earth-sheltered homes.

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