In the previous posts I have remarked on the drama of stairs. That drama is certainly reinforced by the actual design of the stair – its details and materials, certainly its shape and how sharp or relaxed the descent or ascent. Unfortunately, as architects love stairs, we can get a bit carried away with this sense of drama and go a bit overboard.
The drama here may have a lot more to do with the probability of falling and ending up as a bloody heap at the bottom of the beautiful stairs. Architects complain all the time about building codes. However, some might make a bit of sense. Like providing a handrail. Or maybe guardrails. Or treads that you won’t slip on. Or all of the above.
This stuff is known in the industry as “stair porn”. It looks a bit shocking and bit amazing and not very good for you. This kind of visual drama misses the point entirely as far as I’m concerned. The drama of a stair is the potential and very real moment of moving up or down it. The stair literally transcends, breaks you free from the surface of the earth or at the very least it is Scarlett sweeping down to Rhett. If the stair itself requires so much attention to the careful placement of every foot and hand, then maybe that heightens the tension of the transition but only in the most negative and frankly childish sort of way. These glossy stairs that work so hard in their minimalism and lightness to defy gravity all seem to flee from the real potential of a stair – engaging gravity itself, pulling yourself up or plunging down.