At the entrance of Ocean Terminal in Hong Kong, these stairs feature a five-metre-high reproduction of Vincent Van Gogh’s signature painting “Sunflowers”.
Office workers enjoy good weather at lunch time perched on the steps of the ‘Arche de la Défense’ in the business district to the west of Paris.
Zadar could easily coast on its history, its museum of ancient glass or its archaeological museum, but it doesn’t. A few years ago, wanting to improve its pier for cruise-ship passengers, a local architect had the brilliant idea of installing organ-style pipes under the concrete steps leading down to the water.
When waves hit the 35 pipes of varying sizes, air is pushed through, creating musical notes. The Sea Organ shared the European Prize for Urban Public Space in 2006. Since then, solar panels have been installed to even greater effect. At night, the installation – called Greeting to the Sun – lights up underfoot, synchronized to music from the Sea Organ.
The Grouse Grind® is a 2.9-kilometre trail up the face of Grouse Mountain. Those who climb its 2,830 stairs start from 274 metres above sea level (900 feet) to 1,127 metres (3,700 feet) at its summit.
The Incas, masterful builders and architects, were fascinated by stairs. Their temples looked like giant staircases and they farmed on an elaborate terrace system. They invented ‘floating stairs’ enabling them to climb the steep mountain walls. Imagine the Inca people swiftly and nimbly moving up or down on slabs they had inserted into the wall. No handrail, of course.
For just over $300, you can create the illusion of a second story in a small living space. This mural may delight onlookers, but it defies any advance by would-be climbers.
The collaborative design team of a Paris-based fashion house, Maison Martin Margiela and another French company, L’Atelier d’Exercices, have produced objects for the home that mix irony, mystery and humor.
The latest, an atmospheric staircase, would add wit and misdirection to any room and would bring a new dimension to a cramped studio apartment. The mural measures 7.4 feet by 3.9 feet.
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How would you respond if these words were on a sign posted by a staircase?
- Encouraging cues do work.
In a 2013 study, 49 per cent more subway riders in Singapore chose the stairs over the escalators when signs such as “I want to climb the stairs to fitness” were posted over a four-week period.
- Increasing stair use results in measurable health improvements.
A study at the University Hospital of Geneva in Switzerland took a battery of health measurements from 77 employees before and after a 12-week campaign in which posters and floor stickers encouraged stair use. The results, published in the European Journal of Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation, showed that the workers had increased the number of flights ascended and descended from 4.5 a day to 20.6 a day, and as a result had increased their aerobic fitness by 9.2 per cent. They also lost weight and significantly improved blood pressure and cholesterol scores.
- Taking the stairs saves time.
Doctors at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital published a lighthearted study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal in 2011. For 56 trips ranging from one to six stories, the stairs took an average of 13.1 seconds per floor (without “rushing”) while the two sets of elevators took 37.5 and 35.6 seconds per floor, including the time spent waiting. That adds up to a savings of about 15 minutes a day – enough to make an impression on time-pressed health-care workers.
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NINETY-SEVEN. That’s how many stairs African-American movie-goers had to walk up at the Carolina Theater in Durham, North Carolina. After climbing the stairs and purchasing tickets, they sat in designated balcony seating – the only place they were allowed to sit.
Then the civil rights movement brought all kinds of changes. In July 1963, the stairway and the seating requirements were desegregated.
Today, the side entrance to the theater is unmarked. The staircase is nicely carpeted in red with wooden rails. While it is still in use, customers seem to prefer the front entrance stairs and the elevator. The elevator to the second balcony now opens to a permanent exhibit of large, black and white photographs called “Confronting Change.” This display is, perhaps, the Carolina Theater’s self-conscious examination of civil rights history.
(Adapted from the article by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan, Feb. 26, 2014.)