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Timber Staircase

main stair 01 main stair 01 Richard Glover

Mark Pearse Architect

NSW & ACT Entries 2010


Winner of The Timber Joinery or Furniture Element Award, 2010

Winner of The Wood Veneers Award, 2010



This project is the interior renovation of an existing house. This building is in many ways defined by its section: the 5 different floor levels of the house are connected by the main stairs. To traverse the house is to continually use the main stairs, they are the circulation spine of the house. Because of this internal relationship, the interiors of the house are, in a way, defined by this stair.

The owners have a strong collection of paintings & furniture, & the stair was designed in relation to them: to be strong enough to have a dynamic relationship with the artworks rather than being a quiet or polite bystander. The owners have a series of 10 large artworks by an Australian artist, & had not previously been able to hang them all in one space. Because of their large size & visual drama the stair hall was the logical space to hang them, & being a connected series of works there was a parallel between the stair & the artworks. The intended order of the images follows the stair backwards & forwards, so a passage up the stairs parallels the artworks & the relationship between them is dynamic.

The shape of the stair changes continually through the 4 levels it connects, & the changing shape is made into one continuous curve. The shape is derived partly from the inflexible location of access points, & efforts to maximise the sculptural result of the shapes. One walks under, through & around the shape: the experience of the house is dramatised when one uses the stair.

In form it is muscular & we also wanted it to be light, so we conceived of the 3 sides (2 sides, 1 underside) being continuous coiled ribbons. To achieve this effect, the sides needed to show no joints, & the distances are quite large: a horizontal distance of 14.5m & a vertical height of 6.5 m. To achieve this we concluded that timber veneer was the best solution visually & technically. The side veneers meet the plaster soffit at a precise corner joint, which allows the shape to be quite light from underneath.
Entered into:
  • Best Use Of Wood Veneers, 2010
  • Best Timber Joinery or Furniture Element, 2010
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