Our most recent project in Studio Atienza was to redesign and reinvent the building core. Our challenge was to retain the basic function of circulation while creating new space and relationships for added program, all the while keeping the stairwell’s orientation to the sun in mind.
My stairwell developed into a sequence of moments as the circulation processes vertically. Manipulation of walls, screens, and opacities in the stairwell offer views forward and backward in the circulation path, so that one in the stairwell catches glimpses of where they will eventually be arriving, and from where they have come. Considerations of opacity and screening react to the sun’s path through the sky and the stairwell’s orientation.
Slots in the southern wall offer selective views beyond the immediate path and allow slices of sun to penetrate the stairwell, tracking the path of the sun like the stairwell in Campbell Hall to which we have recently paid particular attention. This wall blocks most of the strong, direct southern sunlight.
Screens on the western and eastern sides of the stairwell filter light and create an interesting lighting condition along those segments of circulation. They also create a larger scale. The northern face of the stairwell is the most open, allowing diffuse light to illuminate the stair.