As city living is growing in popularity, space is becoming more scarce. In response, homes and retail spaces are being built vertically, meaning an exponential rise in multi-level designs (be that residentially or commercially). 

Of course, numerous floors equates to the need for vertical circulation considerations. In other words: stairs and lifts. 

In early civilisation, stairs were most likely flat rocks stacked together to facilitate entry into the raised entrances of our spaces. To this day, the concept remains largely unchanged… Although what does vary, is the drama

Some of the most famous staircases in the world - majority of them centuries old - are celebrated for their architecture, grandeur and detail. We only need to look at Chand Baori in India or the Momo Staircase at the Vatican to understand why.

Chand Baori from Trip Savvy. Momo from Pinterest.

Where has the drama gone?

In the 80s and 90s, there seemed to be a lull in staircase design. The solid wooden stair with carved balustrades took residential properties by storm. Understandably, it was an inexpensive yet functional and decorative addition to the home; with personalisation opportunities in the moulding shape and colour or texture of the wood. 

Traditional: Neville Johnson and Blueprint Joinery.

In the 21st century, artists have embraced staircase design as a ripe opportunity for creation. Olafur Eliasson’s sculpture in 2004 challenged the notion of stairs, whilst Rachel Whiteread’s creation in 2001 played with negative space in relation to stairs. 

Olafur eliasson stairs - Engelhardt / Sellin. Rachel Whiteread at the Tate, London. 

These are intriguing examples and demonstrate the limitless bounds of such a mundane object, however they are not suitable as a functioning staircase within a residential or commercial setting. For that, we need to look at new builds, recent renovations and design proposals. 

Into the future

With the growing transition to city living, and its associated reduced square-footage, home and store owners are looking at new ways to imprint their style into these small spaces. As you may have guessed, staircases can be the perfect way to do that. 

Below, are our findings which we think push the boundaries of stairs and are pioneers in rethinking their stature in a space. Many of these can contribute to spatial efficiency - a top priority for city dwellers.

Barely there

Modern stairs - Visualisation by MLab. Iron ladder - Francesco Librizzi studio.

Colour blocking

Red - diapo. Pink - Studio Open.

Raw materials

Concrete - Amin Taha Architects. Render - dpVIZ studio.

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