Nendo Designs a House in Japan with Stairs Running Through It

Akihiro Ito knew that if he was ever to build his own home he would want Oki Sato, his business partner, to design it for him. The two met in school and have been friends ever since and partners ever since Sato established his design studio Nendo in 1997. As Chief Operating Officer, Ito acts as Sato’s right-hand man, and has been with him as the company grew from a start-up in their family’s garage to 50+ employee company with offices in Tokyo, Milan and Shanghai.

It was roughly 3 years ago when Ito went to Sato with the official request. Sato was given creative reign but Ito had a few requests. For one, the home needed to house 2 familes: his own and his in-laws. Ito also wanted a home that was bright and open, where you could wake up to the light of the sun and see the sky.

Sato began designing the home. The garden elements were informed by the mother-in-laws love for gardening. And while the plan called for the in-laws to have their living quarters on the first floor and Ito’s family to be on the 2nd and 3rd floors, there needed to be a way for the two families to come together. A giant staircase, one that appeared to extend itself from the street all the way into the home, served as the perfect solution. The home is being called Kaidannoie, which means house of stairs.

You can see more photos of the home over on PEN Magazine.

(photos by Takumi Ota)

The parents living quarters (above) and another, more functional staircase (below) that extends through the house.


  1. How on earth are they going to manage all of those stairs as they get older?

    • That was my initial reaction as well. I would love to hear more about any design considerations he made to accommodate the in-laws as they age (even simply giving them the first floor or something)

      • I hate to be “that guy” but it literally says in the article that the in-laws are on the first floor.

  2. Carolyn Penny

    March 9, 2020 at 9:41 am

    And tend the plants on all those stairs too. I was wondering the same things.

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