Fascinating Facts About Stairs

19 Jun 2024


Stairs are more than just a means to get from one floor to another—they have fascinating histories, unique designs, and interesting trivia associated with them. Here are some fun facts about stairs that might surprise you!

Ancient Origins

Stairs have been used for thousands of years. Some of the earliest known staircases date back to around 6000 BC and were found in ancient Mesopotamian temples. The Pyramids of Egypt and the Great Wall of China both feature extensive and ancient staircases, highlighting their historical significance.

Spiral Staircases and Defense

Spiral staircases in medieval castles often ascend clockwise. This design was intentional, making it difficult for right-handed attackers to wield their swords effectively while climbing. Conversely, defenders descending the stairs had more room to manoeuvre their weapons. Spiral staircases are not only space-efficient but also provide structural stability to buildings, distributing weight and forces evenly.

Staircase Design Influences

  • Golden Ratio: Many historic and modern staircases are designed using the golden ratio, a mathematical ratio found in nature that creates visually pleasing proportions.
  • Artistic Statements: Staircases have been used as a canvas for artistic expression. Notable examples include the colourful tiled stairs of San Francisco’s 16th Avenue Tiled Steps, and the musical stairs at the Odenplan station in Stockholm, which play notes when stepped on.

Record-Breaking Stairs

When it comes to record breaking staircases, two notable examples capture the imagination with their impressive records and unique features. The Niesenbahn funicular in Switzerland boasts the world's longest staircase, consisting of a staggering 11,674 steps running alongside the railway track up Niesen Mountain, also known as the "Swiss Pyramid." This remarkable staircase is open to the public only once a year for the "Niesenlauf" race, challenging participants to conquer its immense height and offering a one-of-a-kind endurance experience amidst breathtaking alpine views.

Equally fascinating are the Potemkin Stairs in Odessa, Ukraine. Renowned for their architectural brilliance and optical illusion, these steps were designed by Italian architect Francesco Boffo in the 19th century. The stairs create a visual trick, appearing longer and steeper from the bottom and shorter and more manageable from the top. This clever design, achieved by gradually increasing the width of the steps as they descend, makes the Potemkin Stairs a marvel of design and a significant historical landmark, famously featured in Sergei Eisenstein's 1925 silent film "Battleship Potemkin."

Staircase Health Benefits

Climbing stairs is an excellent form of exercise. It burns more calories per minute than jogging and helps improve cardiovascular health and muscle strength. Studies suggest that taking the stairs instead of the elevator can boost your mood and energy levels, as physical activity releases endorphins.

Cultural Significance

Staircases hold deep cultural significance, symbolising progress, growth, and ascension across various societies. In Feng Shui, the placement of a staircase can significantly impact the energy flow within a home. A staircase located in the centre of a house is often considered to create imbalance, disrupting the harmony of the living space. On the other hand, a staircase facing the front door is thought to allow positive energy, or "chi," to rush out quickly, potentially leading to a loss of prosperity and harmony. Understanding these cultural beliefs can inform the design and placement of staircases, ensuring they contribute positively to the overall energy and balance of a home. By considering the symbolic and energetic implications, homeowners and designers can create staircases that not only serve their practical purpose but also enhance the overall well-being and balance of the living space. This approach can lead to a more harmonious and culturally enriched home environment, where every element is thoughtfully integrated to support the residents' growth and prosperity..

Engineering Marvels

The Helix Bridge in Singapore is a marvel of modern architecture, seamlessly blending functionality with cutting-edge design. Central to its innovative structure is a stunning spiral staircase that not only serves as a practical element but also enhances the bridge's aesthetic appeal. The Helix Bridge, inspired by the double helix structure of DNA, features a stainless steel framework intertwined with a dynamic lighting system, creating a futuristic visual experience. The spiral staircase is a key component, allowing pedestrians to access different levels of the bridge while providing spectacular views of the Marina Bay area. This staircase is meticulously designed to complement the overall theme of the bridge, with its sleek, modern lines and structural elegance. Its presence reinforces the bridge's identity as an architectural icon, offering both locals and tourists a unique and engaging way to navigate one of Singapore's most photographed landmarks. Apple stores around the world are renowned for their sleek, minimalist design, with one of the most iconic features being their innovative glass staircases. These staircases are a testament to the strength and transparency of modern engineering, embodying Apple's commitment to cutting-edge design and technological excellence. Crafted from specially treated glass, these staircases create an illusion of floating steps, offering a visually stunning and seemingly weightless pathway between floors. Each glass panel is engineered to withstand significant weight and stress, ensuring safety while maintaining a transparent, airy aesthetic. The design emphasizes openness and light, enhancing the overall shopping experience by creating a sense of space and modernity. The glass staircases not only serve a functional purpose but also act as a statement piece, reflecting Apple's brand philosophy of innovation, simplicity, and elegance. This architectural feat continues to attract admiration and curiosity, making every Apple store visit a unique and memorable experience.

Stairs are a fascinating blend of functionality, history, art, and engineering. Whether you’re admiring the ancient steps of a historical site, using them for a daily workout, or marvelling at a modern architectural wonder, stairs have a unique and integral place in our lives. If you're looking to find the perfect bespoke staircase for your home, click here to arrange a call with our team today.