Faced with designing a multigenerational home in Tokyo, Japanese design studio Nendo came up with a clever solution. In order to unite the households, while still giving them space, they have run a faux staircase through the aptly named Stairway House. Climbing up all levels of the building and running into the front yard, this sculptural stairway is a dramatic tool to bring together all members of the family.
Though the staircase is certainly unique, it’s not intended to be functional. Instead, a usable staircase to move from one level to another is hidden within the structure, as is a playroom for the older couple’s eight cats. The elderly couple lives on the ground floor, ensuring that they have easy access to their quarters and allowing their cats to move in and out of the home. The younger family takes up the first and second floors, with the stunning staircase joining all generations together.
“Not only does the stairway connect the interior to the yard, or bond one household to another, this structure aims to expand further out to join the environs and the city,” writes the firm.
In fact, the stairway—which is constructed from steel indoors and concrete outdoors—has been lined with greenery by the family. The extension outdoors creates a connection between interior and exterior, encouraging the older mother to enjoy her gardening hobby. The clean white interior is a classic example of minimalism and allows for a light and airy atmosphere in a part of Tokyo that is densely crowded.
The contemporary home replaces a smaller wood structure that had been overshadowed by neighboring buildings. In an effort to preserve the history of the space, Nendo took care to keep the beloved persimmon tree that belonged to the previous owners. A wall of glazed glass panels lines the back of the house, allowing light to stream in and offering views into the backyard.
With a completely windowless facade facing the street, Stairway House is like a precious secret preserved for its inhabitants. With the stairway acting as a gentle reminder that they’re not alone, the family is bonded in the best possible way.