Typical Fire Escape Stair,
Sometimes stairs seem to be a problem for a good design, however, throughout history great architects made the most of them. From Michelangelo’s Laurentian Library to Asplund’s Law Court stairs, this architectural element has come to the center of discussion and design. In 2014’s Venice Biennale, curator Rem Koolhaas decided to work on the Fundamentals of architecture. Some of these elements had been forgotten by being regarded through parametric design or super modern ways of understanding life. Whether considered through religious ideas of ascension or mathematical concepts of proportion, stairs are not only used to connect two different stories but also as an aesthetic component or a story teller.
Laurentian Library, Florence.
Law Courts, Gothenburg.
In New York City, stairs have always been a representative element and continue to inspire architects and artists to this day. The fire escape stairs were not built for any aesthetic reason but it is impossible to imagine a hundred-year building in SoHo without them. Over the last decades, many architects have been working in this neighborhood with the same element in different and innovative ways. Heatherwick and Koolhaas designed two of the most interesting stores in the city, Longchamp (2006) and Prada (2001), respectively. In these cases, the stair is not just a mean to rise above two different levels but a component that defines the entire space and makes architecture interact with the products for sale and the visitor.
Being contemporary is not just using avant-garde materials but using them with a contemporary thought of space, living and always looking back to history to have a proper vision of the future.