Into The Vortex

“Two of my favourite stair cases are actually found in the Vatican. One is the famous double helix in the Vatican Museum, designed by Giuseppe Momo in 1932. The other one is the less famous and certainly less ornate way to walk down from the roof of Saint Peter. The steps a wide and long and the stair case is fully enclosed by a seemingly never ending wall, inviting you (imagine being an exuberant teenager!) to run faster and faster until the sudden end of the stairs literally spits you out into Saint Peter cathedral!”

It is, however, not surprising that most people will probably mention a spiral stair case when being asked about their personal favourite. Like a vortex, spiral staircases do pull us in, capture our attention, make themselves the centre piece of any atrium or entrance hall, demand attention (ideal for making a dramatic appearance!) and draw our view either up or down. Friedenreich Hundertwasser once said that the spiral is the symbol for life, whereas the straight line is dead.

If that is indeed the case, taking a simple spiral lying flat on the floor and pulling it upwards until it connects two floors creates a whole array of dynamic curves that is even more exciting. We have to admit that we can’t resist. We love to wrap steps around metal poles or circular elevators (in that case, we recommend talking to Lift Emotion – link to the right!) or daringly around a central void bringing sunlight down into the atrium. We love to distribute steps along twisting spines made of polished stainless steel or wood or carbon fibre or cantilever them almost invisibly off the curving back wall. We heard that some designers even curl stairs around the masts of sailing yachts, which should make negotiating such stairs rather funny when the yacht heels (as sailing yachts often do). We love to take the concept of dynamic even further by playing with variations of offset and rotation or by taking the centre out of the centre. The possibilities are endless and the results are often surprising and certainly never boring!

“And that’s just the geometry! Who would have thought that you could have so much fun with compass and ruler! And we haven’t even spoken about materials and details yet…”