Rooftop gardens and terraces are the perfect examples of turning underutilized spaces into hubs for recreation, relaxation, and food production, but they’re typically only accessible from the inside. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could walk straight up onto your lush green roof from your front yard or garden? Continuous loops of outdoor space create the feeling of having your very own nature trail and make home exteriors more interactive than ever before. Here are four of our favorite walk-up roof designs:

“MeMo House” by BAM!

This verdant home in Buenos Aires, Argentina was created by BAM! Arquitectura and gives its residents a whopping three stories of space in the span of an average-sized housing plot. The exterior of the “MeMo House” is essentially a three-tiered garden that can be accessed from every floor. Plant-filled ramps connect the building’s ground floor to its mid-level terrace and landscaped roof. The architects have also equipped the Memo House with several eco-friendly features like wastewater filtering technology, a rainwater harvesting system, and solar panels. The entire design has been oriented with respect to the sun’s path across the sky to absorb the maximum amount of renewable energy.
“We conceived the sustainability of the project as a path, not a goal,” BAM! explains. “Hence, we based our plan on the LEED standards and incorporated the concepts of durability and economy which are fundamental in our architectural works. We approached the path of sustainability by choosing a sustainable lot where the owner can perform most of her activities on foot or on a bicycle, and she can also use native vegetation in her gardens. This restored the natural landscape and reduced rainwater effluent.”

“OUTrial House” by KWK Promes

Anyone who’s ever lived in a large house with no yard is likely to feel a pang of envy when looking at the clever design of the “OUTrial House” by KWK Promes. This home, located in the forests of Poland, has had its entire rooftop transformed into a grassy field: the perfect spot for picnics, sunbathing, and playing with dogs. Just be careful not to throw the ball over the side of the roof!
“A green clearing surrounded by forest was the only context for the proposed small house,” say the architects. “Hence the idea to ‘carve out’ a piece of the grass-covered site, move it up and treat it as the roofing to arrange all the required functions underneath. When the whole was ready, the client came up with another request, to create some space for a small recording studio and a conservatory. The latter was obtained by linking the ground floor with the grassy roof through an ‘incision’ in the green plane and ‘bending’ the incised fragment down, inside the building.”

“Stair House” by y+M

If greenery isn’t exactly one of your priorities, but you’d still like to enjoy some gorgeous views while preserving the privacy of your home, you’ll be able to gain some inspiration from this unusual house by Japanese firm y+M. The roof of this house is one big staircase, leading from the ground all the way up to the building’s highest point, and the interior reflects that design to a tee. While the structure may look dark and closed-off from the outside, the architects have strategically placed transparent risers between some of the steps to allow daylight inside.

“Steps 15” by Belatchew Arkitekter

Designed by the Swedish firm Belatchew Arkitekter for the outdoor gear company JABO, “Steps 15” is a tiny house with a twist. While the majority of this home’s layout is pretty standard for an ultra-compact portable home, it’s exterior staircase, which leads up to a quaint rooftop terrace, sets it apart. Plus, these stairs conceal a handy built-in storage space and are covered in planters. This way, the inhabitants don’t have to choose between gardening and recreation in their minimal outdoor area.