A wood-and-metal staircase becomes the focal point of a Boulder townhome.
—Courtesy of Raul Garcia
Delineating spaces—without making rooms feel closed in—was the goal for architect E.J. Meade of Arch11 when he set out to design a townhome in Boulder. Inspired by traditional Japanese screens, he sketched an open staircase with a wooden lattice—only to have his client ask if there were a way he could incorporate metal into the design. He returned with this dramatic concept. By interweaving ash steps, thin vertical ash supports, and horizontal steel bands, Meade kept the design light—avoiding a heavy-handed metal structure that, he jokes, might have verged on looking like it was built for cage-fighting. The screen serves multiple purposes: allowing light through, supporting the actual stairs, and providing a visual separation between the bedrooms upstairs and the dining area downstairs. “You’re coming downstairs from a private area into a public area,” Meade says. “You need to have a gradual introduction into the public space. The screen helps define those spaces.”