A staircase is more than just an instrument to connect two floors and, as the world of architecture and design has taught us, it can literally be the centerpiece of your space. Modern stairs have differed in shapes and lengths, depending on the footprint of the space. However, it also creates the foundation for movement within the room, a kind of structure that lends not just depth but also different kinds of perspectives for the users.

Some of the most famous designers and architects have been known to use the template of stairs to create a visually striking statement. French designer and architect Pierre Jeanneret, who is known for lending his minimalistic yet localized aesthetics to the city of Chandigarh and its floor plan, famously installed stairs even in the most congested of spaces, thereby proving that stairs need not take up a lot of space in the room.

Stairs have also been a prominent display in the works of Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog and de Meuron, who have managed to establish a distinct style of architecture, wherein staircases become a nuanced, yet stylized, aspect of their design and bring with it a certain form of rhythm to all their projects.

Traditionally, stairs comprise two significant elements — treads and risers. While tread forms the horizontal element of the stairs, upon which the user steps, the risers are the vertical elements of this architectural feature. Additionally, staircases come with various dimensions, shapes and sizes of handrails, nosing and landings, all of which are immensely crucial in giving the stairs a foundation.

Fundamentally, stairs are supposed to be functional. However, when treated with a sense of aesthetic and design, they can be molded into any sculptural form. Let’s look at the different ways in which a simple staircase can transform your space and evoke a vibe that is quintessentially yours:

Add Mirrors to Your Stairs

As Montreal-based architect Jean-Maxime Labrecque has illustrated, there can be drama to the stairs and one way to do that is to install balustrades comprised of mirrors. In one of his residential projects, in which he infused the renovated house with references from the Tudor period, he made a simple staircase the protagonist of the space.

modern stair white with lady

The idea is to build a railing made up of mirrors, and light up the ground. As the light reflects off the surface of the railing, the room instantly changes. You can pair this particular feature with wooden flooring and white walls to make sure the staircase really stands out. The mirrors, additionally, will give the appearance of a bigger space than the room really inhabits. This feature will also be complemented by removal of additional partitions, in case of the kitchen or dining area boundaries.

Use the Age-Old Concrete for Your Stairs

Concrete can be termed as the go-to material for most architects and designers. While it is economical, the material also brings with it a certain rawness, one that brings with it a sense of local vocabulary and rootedness to the site on which it was built. Which is why, when you go for concrete, make sure that you make full use of its malleable properties.

 concrete stairs design ideas

Take a project by Mexican architecture firm Taler de Arquitectura Contextual, for instance. In order to build their own studio, the firm created a structure called Portico Palmeto. The striking feature of this studio is that it derives directly from its surroundings. Not only does it use local materials to build a sturdy, traditional staircase, albeit any railings, but it also let the floor plan be open, allowing for the foliage to be landscaped within the house. A combination such as this will definitely add a dramatic flair to your space.

Place the Staircase Right at the Center of Your House

The modern staircase is no longer relegated to the corner of the house, hidden away from plain eyesight. A modern staircase is a prominent part of your space. The entire house, in fact, revolves around it. We can take the example of architecture firm called Arquitectura en Movimiento Workshop, who are based out of Mumbai. The project they experimented with in terms of dissecting the space and creating different kinds of distributions is a private residential project which is actively an ultra-modern space.

The architecture firm, in order to connect different parts of the house, built a sculptural staircase bang in the middle of the house, ensuring that this feature brings to the visitors a strong visual statement. The staircase i c   s then visible from all parts of the house and allows for the users of the space to be in constant interaction with each other. While the purpose of the staircase is mostly aesthetic, there’s an element of thoughtfulness in terms of personal use and interaction.

You can also build on the idea with complementary design accessories, such as playing with light with the use of blinds or bringing to the space Italian marble and mosaic applications, all of which will really bring out the movement around the stairs.

The Benefits of Plenty

The beauty of a modern staircase is that it doesn’t have to adhere to a particular format. In terms of its structure, staircases can be tweaked, distorted and played around with to create a visually appealing concept. As an extension of this philosophy comes the possibility of adding more depth to the construction of your stairs. And to do that, you can play around with different materials too.

Take, for instance, the Waind Gohil and Potter architects, who experimented with timber to create a maze-like staircase. By stacking up timber components that ran up to hundreds in number, the architecture firm not only extended the possibilities of the material but also made sure that it adds to the sculptural value of the feature.

You can add this experimental set of stairs with an absolutely minimalistic, organic palette — think sparsely done walls and a lot of greens filtering into the space. In the middle of this simple structure, this staircase, assembled together like a puzzle, will stand out like a prize.

Go the Spiraling Way

You’ve seen those spiraling staircases, especially in ancient, heritage structures across the world. In the modern world though, you can say goodbye to the tedious looking spiraling concrete staircases and add lighter materials such as timber, or laminated oak.

A perfect example is the architecture firm Atmos Studio and their compelling statement in the form of a spiraling staircase for a restaurant in Mayfair, London. In addition to the spiral, they also created a wavy design of the treads, ensuring that from the far top, the staircase produces a brilliant picture of a free-flowing visual. Add to that the element of good natural light and the staircase will appear almost alive, dancing and swaying to the tune of shadow and daylight.

In another instance, French designer Ora Ito used wooden slats, also running in hundreds, to build a snaking sweep of staircase for an office of a luxury company in Paris. In keeping with the cutting edge aesthetics of the capital of fashion, the designer brought with him an exceptional sense of space and how to deconstruct it perfectly with an off-beat staircase, with the wood cut and pieced together almost organically. It is a lesson in both experimentation with craft and innovation for the future.

Suspended Staircases

Suspended staircases are common, especially when paired with concrete. In adopting this architectural feature, the architect or the designer not only brings to the space some amount of lightness, but also a continuation of spaces. By freeing up additional ground floor space, suspended staircases end up being more than functional — they become a part of an efficient way to free extra space.

 suspended staircase ideas

You can also create an effect by adding cascading elements into this characteristic. As long as additional space has been economized and the structure of the space is connected and functional at the same time, a suspended staircase is the way to go.

Pair Two Contrasting Materials for Your Modern Staircase

In a striking example of innovation of materials when it comes to conventional architectural formats, Mexican architecture firm Productora is the one to refer to for their astounding project designed for Teotitlan del Valle, a small village in Sierra Juarez, Mexico. This project is a brilliant example of bringing a project and immersing it in the context of the site it is set in.

Created for the weaving and dying production, the firm used concrete to play with textures, complemented with prints of wood. The main feature, however, is the giant brick steps, with a single file of timber railing to support it. It proves to be a visual of two contrasting materials, with the fragility of the wood paired with the sturdiness of the concrete.

Any space is futile if not played around with imagination and a dash of adventure. The idea of two contrasting materials paired to create one architectural feature is a brilliant way to make a statement in your own way.

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