When thinking about architectural history, you may be thinking of Ancient Greek structures or grand cathedrals. While your first thought may not be the history of staircases, the staircase actually has a rich and interesting history. In fact, the history of the staircase goes so far back that its origins are largely unknown. Here’s a brief guide on the history of staircase designs and how they influenced modern staircases that we see today.
Based on architectural finds in China and Egypt, it’s estimated that the earliest staircases that are still standing were created over three thousand years ago. Massive steps were carved out of granite, typically with walls on either side for support. These staircases usually led up the sides of massive hills and mountains.
Of course, there were more than likely rudimentary stairs that were created out of biodegradable material such as wood, but many of these forms of early stairs have been long gone. Ancient staircases were used for various tasks much like today. From moving to safer ground higher up to travelling toward an important landmark, stairs were just as prevalent then as they are today.
In the time of the Romans, varying styles of staircases began to emerge. Enclosed stairs with an archway overhead and spiral staircases became very popular during this time and were found in some of the most famous buildings throughout the Roman empire.
Staircases quickly became pieces of art rather than just functional. Architects began constructing grand and elaborate staircases that influence modern staircase design we see today. The spiral staircase is still found in both traditional and modern architecture. The classic design can use virtually any building material, from traditional wood to modern glass and metal. While the fundamental design stays the same, the styles are always changing.
The Modern Era
Staircase designs largely stayed the same until modern architecture began to take shape in the early 20th century. Striking and unique staircases such as the open staircase design became the centrepieces of major important buildings across the world.
Some buildings are even known for their striking staircases. For example, when you think of the Vatican Museums in Rome, you may first think of the grand dual spiral staircases found in the centre of the structure. Another world-famous staircase is the Livraria Lello in Porto, Portugal.
The Livraria Lello is one of the oldest bookstores in Europe and is well-known for its open staircase painted a striking red. When you reach the top of the stairs you’ll see a beautiful stained-glass window overhead. This stunning staircase features unique structural support that makes it seem like nothing is holding it up, much like we see in modern floating staircases.
The 21st Century
We take much of our design inspiration from classic architecture. While we add our own modern flair on the design, the heart and essence of the original stair is still there. From a double staircase to a classic spiral and everything in between, our design has taken shape because of the influence of classic architects. Without them, we would not have the staircases we see today.
The S&A Stairs team wants to make the next mark in staircase history. Our designs feature clean lines and quality materials. Whether you’re updating your commercial building or are constructing the home of your dreams, the S&A team is here for you. We have years of experience creating state of the art staircases that transform spaces. For more information on our custom staircase designs and to set up a consultation for your next staircase project, give us a call or send us an email today.