ACME’s Wildly Twisting Wooden Staircase Draws Inspiration From Coco Chanel’s Famous Mirror Stair

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© Ed Reeve © Ed Reeve

Conventional, straight-forward staircases can step aside to make room for these upgraded twisting and dynamic steps that make going upstairs a fun and enjoyable experience. London based studio, ACME has developed a staircase prototype with modern construction methods and an adaptive design approach.

The massive twin spiral staircase was installed at ACME's own office, which previously, had no usable stair between floors. The project takes inspiration from Coco Chanel’s mirror stair in her Parisian apartment, 31 Rue Cambon. Here, the two sides of the stair were cladded with mirrors and anyone perched at the top can observe the comings and goings on all levels of the atelier.

© Ed Reeve © Ed Reeve
© Ed Reeve © Ed Reeve

ACME’s staircase takes cues from Chanel's and was designed to provide people a place to stop and converse. Additionally, the dual nature of the stair allows users to choose their destination, and the inward rake

© Ed Reeve
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© Ed Reeve
© Ed Reeve
the upper steps provide stability and function as a handrail. 

The unique and dynamic form serves more than just social and aesthetic purposes, however—the shape also creates its own structural integrity. Rather than relying on connections at the top and bottom of the stair, the stair is designed as a free-standing cantilever. To provide the appropriate counterweight, the stair is fabricated from layers of cross-laminated timber. Each of the 20 steps are comprised of six timber elements, and once they are assembled, they are simply fixed with screws onto the steps below. 

© Ed Reeve © Ed Reeve
Section / Plan / Perspective Section / Plan / Perspective
Diagrams Diagrams

The staircase was designed as a prototype to create a lively, engaging transitional space with minimum intervention. The assemblage process was carefully articulated and designed to be built directly by designers. Each element was designed to be light enough to handle, and the entire structure was devised to be self-supporting during construction, eliminating the needs for scaffolding or temporary works. The project exemplifies the capabilities of a simple material, timber, to create a space that is not only functional but also alluring and graceful. 

© Ed Reeve © Ed Reeve
© Ed Reeve © Ed Reeve

Freidrich Ludewig, Director of ACME: "The stair is a prototype to show how very humble elements of solid timber, simply fixed together, can form an interesting sculptural solution to the everyday task of going up and down, and solve a complex structural problem with an intelligently engineered solutions and an interesting use of timber technology. Simple structures can be simultaneously beautiful, economical and practical, and help to create inspiring spaces in which to live and work.”

Architects: ACME
Location: Shoreditch, London
Structure: AKT II
Timber: Blumer Lehmann
Year: 2017
Status: Built
Size: 6m2
Budget: £26,000
ACME Team: Friedrich Ludewig, Sara Poza, Jan Saggau
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