Alternating Tread Stairs

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   OK, here’s what these blog posts are all about... Wanda and I are designing the 2011 Coastal Living Idea House. It’ll be located in East Beach Norfolk. I can’t scoop Coastal Living, of course... you’ll have to read the magazine to see the entire house for the first time, but I’ll cover many of the ideas here over the next few weeks as the house breaks ground and gets underway.

   One really cool thing about this Idea House is the fact that it’s shaping up to be the very first SmartDwelling to be built. Project:SmartDwelling is a New Urban Guild initiative to redesign the American home to be dramatically smaller and smarter. You can’t just shrink the house, of course, because nobody wants to see their life put in a vise. But we can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing, either, because McMansions are getting to look an awful lot like dinosaurs. What to do?

   The New Urban Guild believes that if houses get smarter as they get smaller, then people may do what they did with the Katrina Cottages we designed... they’ll say “I could live there... matter of fact, I’d rather live there!” So a house can be small, so long as it lives large. The goal of Project:SmartDwelling is to design houses so smart that they live as big as houses twice their size.

   The 2011 Coastal Living Idea House will paint this picture with great clarity. Until now, idea houses built by almost any organization have typically been behemoths, tipping the scales at 6,000 to 10,000 square feet. This one won’t even top 3,000 square feet, but it will house three generations of your family in very creative ways, plus your home office. There’s lots more to talk about over the next few weeks, but for now, let’s look at the “alternating tread stair,” or if you’d like a less technical name, the “Jefferson Stair.” That’s because Thomas Jefferson was always inventing new ways to travel from floor to floor without taking up so much space.

   The Jefferson Stair in the idea house leads to the attic, which could eventually be finished out for many uses. By alternating the treads, you get a full-depth tread for each foot, but you ascend twice as fast because each foot only needs to step forward 10” rather than the normal 20”. You don’t climb any higher with each step, so it’s arguably an easier climb. And unlike a stepladder, you can go down this one facing downward because each foot has a full step to step onto.

   Cool, huh? Stay tuned... there’s lots more to come.

   ~Steve Mouzon

Legacy Comments


Wonderful idea!  Do you have the floor plan sketches for viewing yet?

Sunday, February 13, 2011 - 05:45 PM


Be careful with these in terms of NFPA 101!

Thursday, June 2, 2011 - 02:12 PM

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