July 11th, 2013 – It doesn’t matter if you’re a 2 year old learning to climb your first step, or a veteran architect conceptualizing a monolithic spiral, we’re all fascinated with stairs. It seems so obvious, most of us tread on them everyday, but when creative minds shed a new perspective on the common architectural necessity, that regular ol’ staircase can become visual gold. Architects Sergey Mishin and Katya Larina of Studio Mishin teamed up with Daniel Llofriu Pou and Alberto Arguimbau of Arup to build a beautifully illuminated, perforated copper staircase for Michin’s new Villa Mallorca.
In the early months of 2010, Studio Mishin contacted the technical architects and engineers at Arup. At this point the villa was largely complete but still needed a central staircase. Spanning three floors, the architect’s vision consisted of an imposing staircase that lies at the central heart of the building and creates a visual link by the use of perforated copper panels throughout the interior and exterior of the building.
Specialist advice was necessary to finish the detail design, engineering and construction of this unique proposal. Arup´s Materials Consulting and Lighting Design´s teams in Berlin began to work on the practicality of realizing and building the copper cladding. “The detailed design of the complex structure is based on a limited set of panel types and interface geometries to allow for a consistent appearance and an efficient procurement. The installation is sequenced in such a way that the structural panels interlock with each other and a delicate substructure to minimize visible connections.” Explained Jan Wurm, Arup’s Materials Practice Leader for Europe.
Wurm continued to explain that “the lighting design accentuates the geometry of the perforations of the copper panels through backlighting, with dramatic lighting from above to reveal the texture and material properties of the copper and laminated wood. An innovative approach to both maintenance and construction for the lighting elements was also a critical element of the success of the project.” The result of such a detailed process is a clad with almost 200m² of composite panel, including treated copper, bonded and structural timber with approximately 12,000 perforations made by a CNC water jet cutter.