New Orleans, LA
Out of Hand, Materializing the Postdigital
Ronald T. Labaco
Book Published by Black Dog Publishing [buy this book]
An exploration of dematerialization in architecture was a source of inspiration for the staircase in the Dickens Apartment in Paris. The massing of the stairs uses the logic of a solid and firm ground at the top and thinner, more ethereal massing at the bottom. The first step is less than one inch thick and flexes when a person steps on it. As one moves up the stairs each step becomes more firm and solid.
The same idea was carried out with the Corian screen that functions as a handrail and visual separation between the main living space and the stairs leading to the master bedroom. Based on a computer-generated script, the pattern is more solid and opaque at the top and gradually dematerializes towards the bottom of the stairs. The aesthetic quality of the screen references ornament and its typical presence in Haussmannian Parisian apartments.
The Corian screen design also refers to notions of beauty concerned with ideas of the incomplete and unfinished. Like in some Eastern philosophies such as wabi-sabi in Japan, the idea of imperfection and lack of finitude were a source of inspiration for the way the Corian screen was conceived and implemented. The relationship between the Corian screen and the steps was designed with the intention of creating an imperfection, and having this imperfection as a source of beauty.
Integrating oak and Corian together in this staircase allows it to bridge the two materials of the floors it is connecting. Oak was utilized for the underside of the stairs to reflect the existing wood floor in the living room on the lower level, and the upper face of each tread is finished with Corian to provide a transition to the Corian floor of the master suite above.