Stairway to Haven

Simon Miller Architects’ house conversion in Muswell Hill, North London, is tied together by a spectacular cantilevered oak and glass stair

The stair that links the newly opened up ground floor with the roof conversion of this outwardly conventional house is a supremely visual idea, complex in the making. A winding stair of cantilevered French oak treads and risers, like a continuous folded plate, is sliced through by a glass balustrade. It is made as an object to be admired from every angle.

It involved close cooperation with engineer Elliott Wood Partnership, the carpenters of Peter Billing, and Firman for glass. A carpenter was hard to find, partly, architect Simon Miller feels, because the stair construction is an

integrated combination of carpentry and steelwork.

Even the general contractor, says Miller, 'had not done anything as complicated before' as this house – notably the complex roof setting out.

Apart from a grouping of rooflights close to the ridge, outward signs of change are easy to miss. The hipped end of this semi has been extended to create a gable, and to the rear there is a dormer across the width of the house. Rationalisation of rear openings includes sliding doors to the kitchen and sliding/folding doors to the ground floor living room. These are part of lightening the typically dark, cellular layout and stirs of such interwar housing. Plain white walls (except for colour backing the staircase) and underfloor heating simplify spaces and provide settings for an art collection.