Overlooking the Sea of Japan in the Shimane Prefecture, the incredible Stairs House offers an intimate interior while providing a welcoming exterior environment. The passive solar house is built not just for a couple and their twin children, but for all the children of the neighborhood to enjoy. The exterior takes the form of a huge staircase that rises two stories and provides views and a place to lounge. The interior is a thoughtfully-designed space that consists of bookcases, cubbies, and open rooms that are illuminated by the constantly changing light provided by the unique windows. Thanks to passive heating and cooling and a host of other green building strategies, the Stairs House stands out for being as generous to the environment as it is to its neighborhood.

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y+M design studio, Shimane Prefecture home , Japan green home, stair house, green building, passive solar, modern green architecture

Although the Stairs House is beautifully located near a beach overlooking the Sea of Japan, the region can have harsh winters — so carefully designed the home to make the most from the lot’s southern exposure. Underneath the bank of outdoor stairs is a set of discrete windows that funnel in daylight and warmth during the winter.

A radiant floor system and wood stove further supplement the home’s heating systems. In the summer the windows still let in indirect light while minimizing solar heat gain. Although the home’s ingenious roof is open for neighbors to enjoy, the subtle windows keep the interior private. Air intakes at the base of the house and a large opening on the upper leeward face of the home provide a cool breeze throughout the area’s warm summers.

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