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Category: Pit with Atrium

CASE STUDY : Mohave Valley House (External Link)

An amazing underground home with surface complex, with an unconventional pit style entrance using a spiral staircase.  Moving below ground, the house surrounds the central entrance / atrium area, with another entrance from an above ground workshop


UNIQUE ONE-OF-A-KIND SUBTERRANEAN HOME ON ALMOST 4.5 ACRES!! This Earth Sheltered home is unlike anything you have ever seen & is
COMPLETELY UNDERGROUND! A spiral staircase leads down to the front door with windows in every room. The home has just gone through a
complete renovation and EVERYTHING IS BRAND NEW! This includes all cabinets with granite counter tops, all flooring, custom tiled
bathrooms & appliances. 880 Sq’ 3 car garage w/ shop area. Willow Valley Marina & Launch Ramp Privileges on the Colorado River only 3
miles away. MUST SEE THIS AMAZING HOME! $349,900

Contact Tim @ (760) 662-1404 for more info or see link below


The second earth-sheltered home by Massachusetts underground home legend John Barnard, Ecology II takes a much different approach than its predecessor. Instead of a pit/atrium style underground home layout, this design is more reminiscent of the terra-dome(tm) form style.

CASE STUDY : Devon Reservoir Home

This underground home was built on the former site of an underground reservoir in the UK. An architectural masterpiece, the home was designed and mostly built by a husband and wife team including a civil engineer.

CASE STUDY : Earth House in Seoul, South Korea

This pit-style underground home in south korea features an open atrium connected with a small 6-room concrete home (all below grade)

CASE STUDY : Ecology House, by John Barnard Jr.

This home truly fits the bill of an “underground” home, with all access from a below-ground-level central atrium. John Barnard, a legend and veteran of the underground home field designed this underground home (in a series of many) to be built by contractors outside of the underground home field. A central atrium lets light in through all facings, eliminating the need to be faced in a specific direction as in some south-facing designs.

CASE STUDY : Bordie Residence – Austin, TX

This unique, underground home with a central large atrium is a prime example in the literature of classic design styling that remains modern even to this day.Unfortunately, the only details I can find for this example are featured in the 1977 book “Earth Sheltered housing design : Guidelines, examples, and references.

UPDATE 10/16/2012:
There are also quite a few references to this in a popular science article from April, 1977



  • urethane foam insulation
  • membrane waterproofing
  • mastoc and fiberglass walls
  • plastic sheeting for additional waterproofing
  • 8″ reinforced concrete walls, precast roof


Designed by Coffee and Crier, 509 Oakdale Austin TX – constructed 1975 (firm whereabouts unknown)