This week we will talk about staircases – but not your usual ones.
Staircases are the parts of a building where architects can show off their structural and artistic skills at the same time. They are creating a sculpture that is fully functional and dominates the interior or the exterior completely. The material can be really almost anything, but when it’s concrete, the design opportunities are boundless.
Above you can see a spiral version in brutalist style. I love how the yellow wall and the red doors complement the purity of the concrete stairs. This masterpiece can be found in a French town called Oyonnax, where – so they say – the yo-yo was invented. The photo and the great find belongs to British-American journalist Tony Allen-Mills.
Photo © Ábaton Arquitectura
C-51 House by Ábaton Arquitectura is one half of a semidetached house in an 8-piece housing project. The heavy concrete staircase is the main attraction of the interior – not just because it’s massive, but also because it looks as if it was levitating between the two floors.
Photo © Simon Norfolk for The New York Times
When talking about expressive staircases, we have to mention a real classic: Oscar Niemeyer’s stairs at Palácio do Itamaraty in Brasilia. Curved is beautiful, and do you know, why? Because Master Niemeyer said so: “I am not attracted to straight angles or to the straight line, hard and inflexible, created by man. I am attracted to the free-flowing, sensual curves. The curves that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuousness of its rivers, in the waves of the ocean, and on the body of the beloved woman. Curves make up the entire Universe, the curved Universe of Einstein.”
Photo © Marcelo López Dinardi and Oscar Oliver Didier of CIUDADLAB
Looks like someone else understood the beauty of curves too: Henriquez Partners Architects designed a rather curvy staircase for a mixed use building in Vancouver, Canada. Woodward’s Redevelopment includes commercial and housing units, public spaces, urban green space and even an educational part: the School for Contemporary Arts. As a tribute to Woodward’s history, the project integrates fragments of the existing 1908 building. The staircase is rather symbolic in this situation, especially because the topmost flight doesn’t lead anywhere…
Photo © Henriquez Partners Architects
We drew a nice circle here, and arrived back where we started: at the classic spiral staircase. This time it has a different feel: the pure identical concrete elements and the red steel banister brings us back to a 70’s summer house. The unhidden concrete surfaces and industrial elements make this Sao Paulo house Vila Madalena very honest and loveable. Brazilian design collective WHYDESIGN is the one to ‘blame’ for this ingenious interior.
See you next week with even more concrete goodness!