The Hamburg architect Gerd Streng offers individual solutions for making the most of the space in existing houses. In view of soaring rent prices in large cosmopolitan cities, he searches for spatial resources within the four walls of people's homes and creates additional room by means of "slight but purposeful reorganisation of the basic structure". In close consultation with the occupants, he devises surprising staircase solutions that are not only functionally inventive but also make a strong design statement with considered use of lighting and colour. So far six so-called Stair Case Study Houses have come about. The SCSH 03 and SCSH 04 projects are described as follows.
Stair Case Study House 03 Situation: In the house in question, new additions to the family led to the decision to move the kitchen to the end of the dining/ living room continuum and to turn the existing kitchen into a further children's room. A maisonette staircase was then to connect the new kitchen to a new study bedroom in the attic.
Measure: The maisonette staircase was divided into two sections. The first consists of five steps that lead onto the kitchen counter, which has been given a depth of 1.20 m in this area. A stair-type stepladder on castors is tucked away under the first five steps and provides access to the high wall cabinets. The second, lockable staircase section seems to hover above the kitchen counter, its steps in dark fumed oak leading down to the counter in a meander. A porthole in the form of an LED-lit hemisphere set at a height suitable for children provides a broad view into the room below.
A secluded area with a desk and sleeping niche is located on the upper level, where the staircase opens to a shelf-like balustrade in which selected issues from an extensive collection of comic books are kept. A tumble guard consisting of transparent polyester grating closes off the comic shelf at its end face, where it is formed like stairs.
This stepped structure increases the capacity of the shelf in an elegant way and at the same time improves access to the main staircase of the 1912 building. As planning permission was not required for the staircase, it was possible to concentrate on design aspects alone in the Stair Case Study House 03 solution. An electrically-operable skylight and subtle cove lighting provide a base level of light.
Project dataUser: private (family of four) Interior design: Gerd Streng, Hamburg Structural planning: Mark Lyczynski, Lüneburg Location: 21075 Hamburg-Harburg, Germany Usable space: 2nd floor 20.7 m², 3rd floor 25.0 m² Cost: Euro 65,000 without customers performance (= approx. 1,422 Euro/m²)
Stair Case Study House 04 Situation: A family with two children and their grandmother live in two identical flats on the second and third floor respectively of a late-19th-century house. The upper, three-room flat is used by the family but was one room too small, while the grandmother on the lower storey felt that her flat was too large. For this reason the commissioning client decided to allocate one of the lower-flat rooms to the upper-storey flat and link the two with interior stairs.
The new maisonette staircase connects the new parental bedroom with en-suite bathroom to the upper flat but does not interfere with the functioning of the lower flat as a self-sufficient unit. Merely a double door acts as an emergency escape into the corridor of the lower-storey flat, making it possible to reach the building's main staircase in this way. The under-stair space in the parental bedroom has a fitted cupboard that merges with the volume of the staircase to form a homogeneous sculptural whole. The door to the bedroom opens at the lower half-landing, which in turn continues on into three steps with built-in drawers. The complete staircase is rendered or painted white except for movable parts such as the door and a hinged shutter. Clad in copper, these surfaces as well as those of a wall niche at the upper landing and the underside of a seating recess reflect the natural and artificial lighting of the stairwell with a warm and pleasant glow.
The staircase leads directly over to the entrance hall of the upper-storey flat and was formed by taking space from the children's room. In order to minimise the loss of space in the child's room, the staircase is restricted to a width of 80 cm and provides the daughter with a small seat backed by a large glazed area. This window lets natural light into the stairwell but does not allow glimpses into the children's room. A hinged shutter can be closed to darken the window looking out onto the staircase.
Project DataUser: private (family of four) Design stairs: Gerd Streng Architect other measures: Publicplan Architektur + Gestaltung, Helge Kühnel Structural planning: Ingenieurbüro für Tragwerksplanung Markus Böller & Ralf Zabiegay Location: 20251 Hamburg, Germany Usable space: Apartment 3rd floor: 74.5m² Apartment 3rd and 4th floor: 117.6m² Cost stairs: Euro 20,000 without client's performance More projects on this topic in DETAIL 4/2014 "Stairs, Ramps, Lifts"