Stairs ancient and modern in Japan

Stairs do not simply connect spaces, they may also provide defining architectural experiences within buildings and landscape. The examples here are widely drawn, from a steep timber flight with strikingly shallow treads that connects the two storeys of a tea house in Kyoto designed by the sixteenth century tea master Sen no Rikyu to the graphic clarity of the concrete staircase that rises behind Herzog & de Meuron’s diagonal grid of glass ‘bubbles’ at the Prada store in Tokyo. As Louis Kahn put it, ‘A stair isn’t something you get out of a catalogue, but a very important event in a building’.


John Pawson