the house defined by its staircase

tokyo-based KIRI architects completes a compact dwelling which is fronted by a light-filled stair hall. this large staircase occupies one third of the volume, stretching across the entire length of the structure, with the living areas to the north, and an open sunny garden to the south. this glazed and elongated stair opens the house up to views for many of the interior spaces, which would otherwise be cloistered and dark. 

kiri architects light-filledimages © anna nagai

a light-filled place to linger

within this light-filled stair hall, the design team at KIRI architects integrates spaces to linger — these include a spacious engawa overlooking the garden and a study with a vista to the street. on a sunny day the handrail becomes an extended clothes-line, while the stair-tread is wide enough to sit and relax while listening to the piano from the lower level. the architects note that this zone is a ‘sublime space filled with light and breeze.’

the staircase is supported by series of timber columns and 16 millimeter steel-rods suspended from the ceiling. the stairs’ timber treads and risers are bolted together fastened on a steel girder.

kiri architects light-filled

kiri architects metabolistic spirit

at first, the KIRI architects-designed staircase seems out of scale for such a tiny dwelling. inside though, this light-filled stair hall clearly serves not only as the primary function, but also as a mediator of its surrounding environment. slender yet overlapping columns gently divide the living-spaces from the garden and neighbors, while a flood of sunlight is filtered by the stairs, handrail, hanging rods, and other various elements until it eventually reaches the living spaces beyond transformed into mellow and ample light.

the entire face of the bedroom on the upper floor facing the staircase is designed as recurring series of folding-doors, to accommodate future division into smaller children’s rooms, in the true spirit of metabolism. the ground floor living room can be opened to the garden so that children can freely run out into the garden.

kiri architects light-filledKIRI architects opens up this compact japanese house with a light-filled stair hall