Purposeful Consolidation: Stair Case Study Houses (III)
Text: Peter Popp
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 05 and SCSH 06 projects are described as follows.
Stair Case Study House 05
The top two storeys of an upper-middle-class house in the Art Nouveau style needed to be joined together into a generously-sized maisonette flat.
At first glance the new stairs make the impression of an ordinary double-flight half-turn staircase. However, a closer look shows that the lower part broadens into two staggered sections, thus opening up the oak staircase to the entrance to the flat.
A guest WC with a triangular floorplan is located beneath the stairs. All surfaces, excepting the fittings, are in white; above the door, a cove light with a triangular, orange-painted shape accentuates the room. A window to the stairwell is in frosted glass and reflective foil. The spandrel space directly reflects the stair geometry, and together with the monochromatic colouration and the lighting has a contemplative atmosphere that fits well with the function of the room.
User: private (family of five)
Architect stairs: Gerd Streng
Location: 20148 Hamburg-Rotherbaum, Germany
Cost stairs: Euro 40,000
Stair Case Study House 06
A classical detached house from 1937 was to undergo an energy efficiency upgrade as well as adaptation to the spatial requirements of a family of four.
In a purposeful intervention, it was possible to integrate a new staircase into the corridor of the upper floor and thus provide access to the previously unused pitched attic. The attic, which originally could only be reached by a ladder, now accommodates a light-flooded room that increases the house's net floor space from about 100 m² to approx. 116 m².
The new, single-flight staircase has been precisely incorporated into the ceiling opening for the former ladder. Space constraints determined the new staircase's dimensioning in that enough clear passage width had to be left for reaching the bathroom and bedrooms in the 1.30 m-wide corridor.
The stringer inclined at a 5° angle is the key to meeting all requirements. On the one hand the angle ensures a maximum clear passage width in the corridor; on the other, it resolves the difference in width between the starting step and the ceiling opening. The bend at the ninth step marks the start of the turn towards the opening into the attic. A handrail solution at the side offers six openings arranged vertically to be of the right height for all ages between small children and adults.
On the inner side the steps rest on a stringer board screwed to the wall, whereby all parts are executed in varnished birch multiplex (30 mm). Two sandwich panels in opaque glass-fibre reinforced polyester (GRP) close the space at the top and are lit from below. One of these panels has the form of a pneumatic spring-assisted flap, while the other, smaller one is fixed into place. Both fit into an orange-painted steel frame incorporating L-profiles, and both can be walked over.
Four rooflights provide the attic with a base level of light, and an additional large rooflight above the staircase opening lets in daylight, thus enabling views up into the attic from almost three storeys below.
With the exception of the pointed gable walls, all the attic surfaces are clad in moisture-resistant oriented strand board, including the reveals of the five roof windows, the skirting boards and the apex trim. In combination with the GRP panels, the quality installation and workmanship of the seemingly "cheap" material lends the attic room a unique atmosphere.
User: private (family of four)
Architect: Gerd Streng
Location: 22525 Hamburg-Langenfelde, Germany
total Euro 65,000
stairs Euro 5,500
More projects on this topic in DETAIL 4/2014 "Stairs, Ramps, Lifts"