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EeStairs play centre stage in net zero project


EeStairs achieves outstanding sustainability with the use of a plywood helical staircase, part of a rural renovation project.

Regenerating this listed barn and its surrounding buildings the brief was creating a group of houses which are net zero. Using energy-efficient technology and renewable energy sources the same amount of energy is produced on-site as is consumed through solar panels and ground source heat pumps.

The Barn on the Ahof dates back to 1885, and is a classic Dutch design with a deep thatched roof, partial dark wood cladding and red brickwork. Magnificent large arched glazed doorways with traditional stable-door shutters frame each end of the building allowing light to pour through.

The artisanal thatching, the steep gabled roof, rough-hewn beams and simple concrete floor keep the purity of the building’s purpose whilst elevating its use as a modern home. Crucial contemporary elements with a warm industrial feel were added: a central steel kitchen island and a powerful energy-efficient wood-burning stove.

The interior architect worked alongside the client and architect to convey the strength of the original structure. The brief was to use natural building materials working with lime plaster and flax in the wall build-up. Avoiding unnecessary fixtures or fittings on the interior walls respects the structure and brings a feeling of stillness. The addition of a new first floor meant that additional bathrooms and bedrooms were discreetly installed and the modern staircase was designed to bring 21st century craftsmanship into the space.

Ensuring the honesty of materials extends to this dramatic pine ply staircase; a collaboration between the interior architect and EeStairs. It is an audacious and innovative helical design and the first of its kind to be engineered and fabricated by EeStairs. The raw plywood refers to industrial use and has humility and warmth that suits the barn, its history and its future. Curved or helical stairs are usually seen clad in luxury finishes like marble, plaster or more noble woods like oak, this ply version reinforces the ethos of purity and simplicity that is so inherent in the A-hof project.

EeStairs has an international reputation for manufacturing outstanding feature staircases. They work with some of the world’s best-known architects, interior designers and contractors and they often require stairs with challenging forms and materials, which they produce and install with absolute precision.

They are proud of their stair-making skills. But there is another equally important aspect to the way they work – its commitment to low-impact environmental efficiency. And this led to its headquarters and production facility at Barneveld becoming the first industrial unit in the Netherlands to be awarded BREEAM Outstanding certification for its sustainability.


All images © Alex Baxter