The Staircase House, designed by Oki Sato of Nendo, redefines the concept of multigenerational living as it caters to their diverse needs. The beauty of the structure lies in its design language, an innovative expression of how stairs connect different levels, utilizing this architectural element as the heart of the home. 

A Central Ascent 

As its name suggests, the structure features a central staircase that firmly defines its form. The stairway-like structure penetrates the facade and extends well into the interior spaces. It functionally serves as the backbone of the home as it contains a slew of spaces while acting as a vertical garden. The stair’s unique design elevates daily movement as it gracefully connects different areas dedicated for each generation within. 

The designer makes room for nature as they push the structure’s volume to the north side. Doing so successfully carves out a generous garden space along the south. Biophilic design elements, such as the preserved persimmon tree and other planters, soften the rigid modernist style with a touch of the organic. 

The home’s southern facade is predominantly made from glass and broken down by steel partitions. Its monochromatic palette harkens to Asian Zen aesthetics with minimal elements imbuing a sense of calm amidst the urban noise. Its flat roof and cubic form differentiates the home with a contemporary flair while still retaining the spirit of Japanese spatial design. 

Crafting Relationships Through Space

The Staircase House embraces a crisp minimalistically modern aesthetic. Clean lines in a neutral color palette are found all throughout the home. Its use of light wood flooring, plain walls, and expansive glazing brings about a bright and airy atmosphere. 

Sato carefully considered the requirements of each generation that lives in this home. A main priority is promoting opposites–privacy and social interactions– in harmony with each other. As such, the layout reflects a controlled and yet seamless programming that establishes a compelling spatial relationship.

The ground floor accommodates the older couple, making mobility and immediate garden access inherent. Conversely, the upper floors house the younger couple and their child, fostering a sense of independence while still maintaining connection. The floor layout opens up the spaces to each other to promote visibility. 

Tying Together Values and Functionality

The need for wellness in both old age and youth requires an environment specifically designed to support these life stages. An exposed facade makes way for natural light and ventilation to proliferate inside, providing a healthy dose of sunlight and fresh air throughout the day. Moreover, the abundance of greenery serves as a relief from the built up environments of urban Tokyo. 

The Staircase House references traditional Japanese architecture principles in a modern fashion. The qualitative emphasis on simplicity and functionality is a legible element that its users can relate to. Retaining these values imbue the structure with that sweet intangible feeling of home. It further demonstrates how timeless concepts can meet contemporary challenges.

A Home of Connection

Through its unique stairway, minimalist aesthetic, and multi-generational design, the Staircase House fosters a refined take on establishing social cohesion. It differentiates itself with its modern forms while still strongly holds on to familiar feelings of space. 

Read more: Binh Thanh House: A Modern Home Design with Traditional Spaces

Photo credit: Takumi Ota & Daici Ano

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