Staircases can be much more than a route to other levels. They can also ‘wow’ as a design feature and add a strong architectural statement within the home. Creating something exceptional requires careful thought and extensive planning to ensure they fit into the home.
From a technical perspective, stairs are one of the most challenging aspects of architecture due to the volume of work and careful coordination they require. For their relative square footage, they tend to be quite complex. Building codes exasperate these challenges, imposing strict provisions that further complicate the process. An innovative stair design, especially when geometrically complex, requires an architect to play the role of armchair structural engineer. During construction, modern stair design requires several trades (framers, finish carpenters, steel fabricators, etc) to coordinate and communicate successfully together.
One example currently in the office (and soon to be completed!) is the staircase at Sloan’s Lake Residence. This stair takes the ‘wow factor’ to the extreme while offering the minimalist interior something striking.
The abstract and geometric staircase design drew inspiration from origami trees: a rooted trunk growing, branching out, and reaching skyward. As you ascend, landings allow a direct experience of natural light streaming down from the massive skylight above. The walkway’s zigzag movement encourages pause to take in the beauty of the sculptural tower. Each level of the residence provides a distinct view of the center structure, as though a frame to an abstract composition.
The materials used—metal, wood, glass—are the core palette and complement the brick and clean white walls of the new home.
We worked in a partnership with Rob Brindley at Modern Craftsman to ensure the design was both beautiful and robust. After designing the stair in a 3d modeling program, we handed the file off to Rob, whose task was then to figure out how to build it. The skilled people at Modern Craftsman put together a scaled structural mockup model for the steel skeleton and skin of the stair, which can be seen above. After further discussion and development, work began on the full scale stair. The individual pieces were cut in-house at the Modern Craftsman workshop and will eventually be transported to Denver to be assembled and installed on site.