Office, Utrecht [NL]
EeStairs + OOKarchitecten
The reception area in this Utrecht office building is designed in a very spare, uncluttered way, which makes the staircase the single most important architectural feature. For us, it was important to express the materiality of the stairs in a controlled way to strike an interesting visual balance between organic surfaces and linear clarity.
In one sense, the staircase is very simple: two steel balustrades, a seamless steel soffit, and oak treads and risers. But the pure lines of these elements are enriched by concealed LED lighting under the ‘noses’ of the treads, and in the handrail slots in the balustrades. Precise visual contrasts were key: for example, contrast between warm colour of the oak noses and the cooler lines of light on the risers.
The contrast between the light-filled stairs and the outside of the balustrades was equally important. We grit-blasted the surface of the steel to give it a very slightly grainy texture and then coated it with beeswax, and this creates subtly varying effects that are somewhere between matt and shiny.