Maison sans Escalier (The House Without Stairs) – Saint-Étienne, France - Atlas Obscura

Maison sans Escalier (The House Without Stairs)

Saint-Étienne, France

An architectural oddity of six stories, accessed by graceful ramps. 


Nothing seems to distinguish the two buildings situated on the 54 and 56 Boulevard Daguerre that seem to blend like chameleons into the urban landscape of Saint Etienne.

But the two constructions known as “Les Chalets de Bizillon” hide an architectural curiosity; a helicoidal, gently sloping ramp serving the six stories, elevating its spiral as a mezzanine around a decorative indoor garden on the first floor.

Auguste Bossu is the inspired architect who designed his first project envisioning stairs as a totally archaic, out of date form. In a very passionate pamphlet, he describes his very intriguing, yet humanist architectural conception.

“The house without stairs, the house of the future!

Stairs are the most barbarian way of climbing stairs. Steps impose the same walking pace to everybody : to children and elderly, to sick and healthy people.

With the sloped ramp, one can walk the way he needs, long or short steps, fast or slow, like on a street pavement “ 

This iconic helix, changing a rough climb into an architectonic stroll, also attests to the ingenuity and freedom of the creativity of France in-between war eras. Its dizzy esthetic inspired Frank Lloyd Wright when he was conceiving the famous New York Guggenheim Museum in 1959.

Know Before You Go

Tramway : Centre Deux Station

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March 27, 2013

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