Whether a grammar school, which needs more space, or a private home, in which the staircase becomes a prestigious item of furniture – not only are lifts not the ideal solution, but in many buildings the staircase still forms the centrepiece. To climb it, we have to put one foot in front of the other instead of just pressing a button, and building a staircase requires real craftsmanship. The company Treppenbau.ch AG from Toggenburg in the canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland, supplied staircases for two extraordinary projects.
Staircase with food for thought
When the lunchtime bell rings, students at the Kantonsschule Küsnacht make a dash for the dining hall because they know there are not enough seats. At least that was the case until recently. Then a gallery floor was installed above the entrance area – and a staircase too. "The structure was meant to be simple, but with certain details that encourage the students to think," explains Marie-Claude Bétrix from the architectural firm Bétrix & Consolascio in Zurich. The staircase builder therefore deliberately left certain static connections on the gallery floor visible. The result was an elliptical-shaped staircase with steps projecting freely from the interior balustrade. "The stairs are inviting and the students are curious about the upper floor, but they are also eager to experience walking on these 'floating' steps," tells Daniel Kern, managing director of Treppenbau.ch. A great challenge for him and his team was the elliptically curved interior balustrade designed by the architect. The concealed steel parts milled into it make sure that the steps are stable. The entire load of the staircase is transferred to the floor and ceiling through this balustrade. In terms of design, light, solid ash without brown heartwood was chosen to make the staircase visibly stand out from the dark oak floor on the ground floor. To ensure that this remains so, all components were finished with ADLER Legno-Öl Weiß, which, with its R10 slip class, is ideally suited for stairs and sprinting students.
Unique piece for a private home
Daniel Kern is without doubt a fan of ADLER Legno-Öl and as a result it was also used on the extraordinary oak stairs in a detached house. Structural requirements, the character of the room and the owner's own ideas are the cornerstones around which the design by the Zurich company AD Architektur Design Gmbh for the freestanding central staircase in the room is based. "The customer wanted a light, unique staircase that would present the entrance area in a distinctive way," explains Daniel Kern. "In order to save weight, we made the balustrades in acrylic glass, allowing the suspension at the access landing to be minimised. The order for this unique piece with the transparent balustrades and the rising curved wreath string made of solid oak was something special even for us." Craftsmanship and know-how were required to make the seven-metre long central support, because due to its size it could not be produced with CNC but had to be finished with conventional joinery tools. This had to be done with millimetre precision so that the CAM-manufactured handrail parts fitted on the stairs. The special statics and design of the staircase also had an influence on the surface: "Since the longitudinal joint of the stringer beam had to be statically glued at the construction site, it was beneficial that the surface was oiled," says Kern. Excess glue could easily be grinded off flush and the surface re-oiled without leaving any residue. The result: a flawless synthesis of the arts with heart and soul, instead of buttons and cables.
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