“I thought it would be nice to make a city like architecture or architecture like a city," says Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto of House NA, which he designed and completed in 2011. Built with glass walls and a steel structural frame, it contains a matrix of tiny rectangular rooms and outdoor terraces, each on a separate floor level linked by stairs, movable steps, or ladders.
Designed by Münster-based firm Modulorbeat, this slim, three-story, 25-foot-high tower houses a one-man sauna. A foot ladder allows entry to the structure, and once inside, a retractable steel ladder begins at the ground-floor plunge pool and climbs up to the topmost level.
The Nomad Shelf System from Skagerak provides ample storage with a thin, space-saving profile. Taking the form of a ladder, each of the "rungs" acts as a shelf. It also comes with four hooks, which make it easy to hang small accessories.
Hideyuki Nakayama's delightfully unconventional 2004 House—designed in the year reflected in its name—centers around a slab that both acts as a table and mezzanine floor, opening up to levels both beneath and above it. Here's a view from the second floor, which is accessed via a ladder from the charcoal gray surface.
Resident Chris Greenawalt founded Bunker Workshop in Boston. Among the firm's first projects was renovating his own new kitchen, where a library ladder is used to access an elevated, backlit spice shelf.