Stair House


The Stair House in Oda-City, Japan, was built by y+Mdo architects for a small family.

The house is essentially a large staircase.  There are a number of green features incorporated into the building.  For instance, the stairs face the south, and have small slit windows in between some, with larger windows under “benches.”  The windows work to minimize direct sunlight during summer, but allow it to warm the house in winter.  The low south entrance is also surrounded by a garden, which helps to cool the air at the entrance.  As the air warms, it rises to the top of the building due to its open floor plan, and can escape through the ventilation system.

I really like the interior of this house.  The large wood posts forming the underside of the steps give it a very solid look, amplified by the steel ties.  The integrated bookcases make a very efficient use of wall space.  The openness of the plan makes a simple single-family home feel like an urban loft.  It also makes it so that almost all the rooms are essentially south-facing, and receive at least some natural light.  I don’t like the exposed wiring leading to the hanging lights, but that’s about the only thing I can complain about from what I’ve seen of the house.

The roof, I think, looks like a lot of fun.  From up here you can see into the recreation area at what appears to be a high school across the street, and although the pictures I’ve seen don’t include it, there is probably a pretty wide sweeping view to the North as well.  I like that there are little things like guard rails along the edges and balconies—a common-sense item that I have seen lacking in the work of some of the architecture students here at Penn.  It seems like a great gathering place, and even in the architect’s drawings it mentions having a barbecue on the roof.

This home, whether intentionally or not, employs a number of Alexandrine patterns.  The three-story, south-facing slope resembles a single-family housing hill.  The garden is on the south side of the property.  The pergola defines the main entrance.  The roof has integrated stair seats.  There is plenty of indoor sunlight.  The kitchen is large and integrated into the living room area.  The open shelves create thick walls and include a waist-high shelf.  The floors use different materials to reflect relative formality.

This is not a house that I would have designed, and I’m glad to see something I like so much come from somewhere I never would have thought of.  A great house, and a great addition to architecture.

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About Dave Munson
This blog is about architecture, cities, and myself.

One Response to Stair House

  1. TamDiego says:

    Great house! I love getting your updates on my google reader and learning a little more about architecture, plus seeing a little more of the world that I probably wouldnt have otherwise. Thanks Dave!

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