The stair is one of the most fundamental elements of architecture. Whether thin and delicate or bold and colored, in some projects a staircase becomes the buildings’ main protagonist and serves as a focal point for the entire project. It is through staircases that architects create spatial forms and visuals that reveal new ways to perceive a constructed space. For this reason, we’ve searched our archives (again!) in search of some more inspiring stairs.
We’ve already presented a selection of staircases made from beautiful materials, and are back for round 2! With different types of materials and support techniques, some stairs give us the feeling of being suspended in the air, while others play with the exposed elements that sustain them. In this round-up, we’ve got some seriously spiraling stairs, both in public and private buildings. We’re also showcasing some unique metal staircases so thin they look almost see-through – a feat of architecture and structural design.
Check out ten more unique staircases from our archive below:
Stairs do more than take you up a floor; they represent a journey the architect wants you to travel. The act of ascending and descending extends beyond planning. Projects like Herzog and De Meuron’s expressive staircases in VitraHaus, Sou Fujimoto’s inhabited stairs in Musashino’s Library and even MVRDV’s giant urban staircase allowed individuals to achieve entirely new perspectives of their surroundings or even city. Staircases hold their own as elements of architectural expression. Some blend in; others puncture a space with their unique shape and materials.
Staircases can trigger conversations, provide a sense of arrival, and dazzle with ingenuity. As an architectural element, they are not just about circulation – so why are they neglected in the design of so many new projects? In this short film from Monocle, the breadth of ingenuity possible with the stair—from those of the Danish National Bank in Copenhagen to London’s Leighton House Museum—explore how they can come to embody the very essence of a good architectural project.
Designed by architect Rafael Iglesia for the home of the Del Grande family in Rosario, Argentina, this staircase is the result of a system of counteracting forces. The structure's wooden elements are held in place only by the friction and pressure that is produced between the pieces of wood that make up the system.
Vertical Walking, an experimental prototype by Rombout Frieling Lab designed "to move ourselves between floors in a building," exploits the potential of the human body, materials and intelligent design to require less than 10% of the effort required by taking a flight of stairs – and without the need for any sort of ancillary power supply. The ultimate aim of the designers is to allow people to "move harmoniously through our vertical habitats of the future."
In this video, Ben Uyeda of HomeMade Modern demonstrates how to build a sleek, contemporary spiral staircase using just a standard schedule steel post, plywood and a CNC router (along with a healthy amount of wood and construction glue). To build the staircase, Uyeda uses the CNC to cut out 12 shapes of incremental size from a plywood sheet, which he then stacks and fits around the post to secure into place.
HomeMade Modern has also made the CAD files available for free, so handy woodworking types can attempt the construction themselves.
UPDATE: The shortlisted entries have been announced and public voting is open until February 15th! Cast your vote here.
International staircase design specialist, EeStairs - has launched the second edition of its Staircase Design Competition. Open to anyone who wishes to participate - the entries will be shortlisted by a panel of expert judges before the winners are decided by public vote in February 2016. In March, two cash prizes of £2,000 each, will be awarded at a prize giving ceremony.
EeStairs is on the hunt for individuals who will look beyond staircases and balustrades as functional components of architecture, but instead combine practicality and artistic imagination to create truly outstanding designs.
Exhibited at the BSA Space as part of the Boston Design Biennial in 2013, Matter Design's Helix is a concrete spiral staircase that is full of surprises. Chief among these is its size - the stair was built at half-size to address the practical issues of weight, liability and access - but more important are the details of its assembly. While the steps of most spiral staircases are supported from either the stair's perimeter or a central column, Helix transfers loads directly through the steps below to its base which, rather than resting on the floor as it appears, is in fact suspended from a beam in the ceiling.
On this day of love, we bring you a compilation of eye candy capable of meeting or exceeding the specifications of any architect. These seductive staircases demand a double take. From curvaceous to straightforward or no-strings-attached (literally), we’ve got something for everyone.
They're yours to gaze at after the break.
Inspired by the spine of a whale, the Vertebrae Staircase is not simply mimicry of organic form but an exploration in shaping structure. Much of the design work went into refining the single component, or vertebra, that mate with each other creating a unified spine running from floor plate to floor plate. These interlocking vertebrae create a rigid and self-supporting structure.
More on Andrew McConnell's 'Vertebrae Staircase' after the break.