As the spanish architect, artist and designer, Óscar Tusquets said:
The staircase is a fascinating architectural object and at the same time a very difficult one. It is possibly the element that has delivered the most memorable spaces in the history of our Art. With the geometrical conflict generated by the diagonal line of the banister and the slab, with the always delicate and complex design of the handrail on the turns, on the intermediate landings on the particular solution required for the finishing on the top floor…”
As architects, we should bear in mind that staircases do not carry the same meaning for everyone. For some people, they are a mere formality between floors, a deadly effort to face when you get back home after a hard day’s work, or an insuperable obstacle for those who suffer mobility issues.
For us working in architecture, it is our duty to keep in mind the operational issues that will have an impact on the daily lives of its users, without forgetting that for us a staicase is a metaphor with an absolute expresive power which condenses the whole concept of a project. As a metaphor, the staircase can float detaching itself from the body of the project or generating on its own course the very same project. Therefore, a staircase can define the distinctive nature of a the whole work.
As follows, we have highlighted some conceived and built examples of staircases which will give an idea of the importance of this element.
The stairs were most certainly born in Nature, as a basic element of landscape. A sculpture that allows the colonization of a previously uninhabitable space, as it happens with the staircase conceived by Álvaro Leite Siza for the Casa Tolo project.The external stairs adapt to the natural environment joining together the courtyards with the help of the internal stairs, while defining interior spaces at the same time.
As shown, the staircase acts as a creator of spaces, of projects, of routings,… Besides, stairs represent and comunicate, with some of them becoming epochal, as this one by Rem Koolhaas belonging to the Netherlands Embassy building in Berlin.
In the design of this staircase, the central glazed cube circulates spiralling up while combining stair sections with ramp sections.
The main staircase of Itamaray Palace by Óscar Niemeyer, serve as an example of an immaterial and sculptural staircase that only needs two empty containing floor plans, as it holds sense by itself.
A staircase could also be a folie as in the audiovisual piece by Jaques Tati “Mon Oncle” ; a fantasy that helps you to go over a space on a creative way, providing tangencial visions of reality.
Interior staircases designed by AGi architects
In some of our projects we have developed staircases with a strong character and personality, that have been used as generators of spaces and also as a catalyst for an idea. Practically every tangible decision of the works has been gathered on their indispensable three-dimensionality and in their materiality.
In Star House, the three way interior staircase is located in the centre of the building and acts as an organizational element for the access of family, friends and guests.
Mop House’s staircase is one of the jewels in this house, a distinctive space combining lights that have been suspended at different heights over the stairwell with the bamboo.
In Secret House, the stairs linking up the first floor with the top floor have been built as a kind of bridge that goes across diagonally the interior patio, fragmenting the stairwell in search of a greater shading which will helps to cope with the high temperatures of the environment.
Finally, in Rock House, one of the projects that we are about to finish, the interior stairs continue the faceted pattern of the facade. A stone and wood design thoroughly detailed in accordance with the main concept of the project.
Photographies of Star House, Secret House and Mop House: Nelson Garrido