Stair of the Week: Andrew Maynard's Black House

Stair from above
© Andrew Maynard Architects

"Stairs are tricky." Those are the words of Australian architect Andrew Maynard, but could be said by almost any designer who is trying to make these major architectural features into something attractive and interesting. Handrails are trickier, and many designers try to get rid of them after the building inspectors have left. "Deathstairs", our commenters have called these.

One of Andrew's recent projects is his Black House, which if course is all white and is an apartment renovation. Here, he is adapting an apartment to accommodate a child. Andrew has been known to design deathstairs (Tattoo House, see) but notes that "a new baby often pushes us to conservatism and conformity," so he has designed what is perhaps the safest stair we have shown in our stair of the week series. Yet it is open and bright at the same time. Andrew writes:

Stairs are tricky. Especially in tight spaces. We have tried to create a stair that feels light like lace, which is difficult considering the constant live loads it is under. Steel mesh is folded allowing light to be shared while also enabling conversations to take place from one level to the other, without requiring you to be in the same space. This was previously impossible.

The stair is also part desk, part laundry and part furniture. One can lounge on the steps and chat with both someone at the study and upstairs. Furthermore, as apartments at the top of old warehouses don't typically have playgrounds for kids, the stair becomes a jungle gym for play and exploration. Give a child a handful of colourful magnets and a handful of pegs and that stair will keep them amused for days.

The child with his head popping out of the floor is part of another story.

Gravity is colluding with your child. Gravity conspires in your child's favour. Their target is your sanity. Parents constantly pick things up, while kid throws them down.

So he designs a raised floor so that the toys and everything else can just follow gravity into their own storage areas under the floor.

Andrew Maynard remains one of my favourite architects anywhere, consistently producing designs with style and humour, and presenting them so well on his site, sharing so much information. You could spend days there.

Stair of the Week: Andrew Maynard's Black House
This is no deathstair, but a clever folded metal object that lets the light through.

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