Since we began creating bespoke staircases back in the 1980s, creativity and attention to detail have been hallmarks of our work. In our collaborations with Jonathan Lees Architects, we have found kindred spirits. Each project is a new adventure and finished details are everything, making everyone involved with the project up their game to even higher levels. That was definitely the case when we crafted a floating, helical staircase for a new home in the beautiful Constantine Bay in Cornwall.
Initially, the owners were looking to extend an existing bungalow which stood on the plot. However, during the planning stage it became clear that it was better to demolish the existing home and create a new one from scratch, which was highly sustainable and built around the owners’ needs.
The new home design has a ridge height which is similar to the surrounding bungalows but also incorporates bedrooms on a second floor. To provide access to this, they envisaged a helical staircase within the entrance hall leading up to a mezzanine gallery, which provides views across the main sitting room and out through the large south-facing glazing.
Creating the staircase
Having obtained planning permission, Jonathan Lees Architects developed the initial designs for the staircase and connecting gallery. The original concept for the stairs was that of a Nautilus shell, with the curved conical nature of the stairs reflecting the geometry of the shell and the plain, upright balusters representing the ribs in the structure.
Jonathan Lees Architects approached us to develop and engineer these plans through to the finished staircase. The connection between the mezzanine walkway and the staircase was already designed so we had to carefully model the staircase with CAD to ensure it accurately interfaced with this and delivered the high-quality aesthetic expected. This included obtaining the structural calculations to prove the design.
As with all aspects of the project, the materials chosen for the staircase had to be of the highest quality and to provide the longest possible lifespan. The structure, balusters and handrail are all formed from steel which has been powder coated to colour match with other metalwork within the property, including the glazed doors which lead into the spaces directly adjoining the entrance hall.
In their briefing, Jonathan Lees Architects explained that their vision was that both the fascia and balustrades should run continuously up the staircase and along the length of the mezzanine, creating a beautiful flow to the entire structure. We worked with a local engineering specialist to develop and manufacture these elements to the precise requirements. The steel balustrade and handrail interconnects with those of the curved basement stairs that flowed under the main metal stairs which we also manufactured. The tightly curved section of handrail to the centre represents the core of Jonathan Lees Architects’ shell concept.
The treads on the staircase and at either end of the walkway are carved from fine oak, as are the nosings that we crafted to frame the mezzanine. The subtlety curved oak treads were bleached to match the finish of the white Oak floor to the hall. A key aspect of the design was to create the illusion that the treads are floating over the metal structure with no visible supports. This was achieved by wrapping the treads around steel cross members, completely concealing them. The fixing holes for the balusters in both the treads and nosing’s are also concealed with colour matched plugs, creating a seamless finished aesthetic.
This was a project which really challenged our team, not least due to the distance to the Cornish site from our Derbyshire workshop, but we think you’ll agree that the finished results are stunning and perfectly integrate within this beautiful home.
If you are looking to create a truly one–of–a–kind feature for your home, browse our gallery