The Great Ascent

Stone spiral staircase at Seaton Delaval Hall, NorthumberlandCharleston is expecting some winter weather today, which leaves me ready to curl up with a good book. I believe I will go with Staircases: The Architecture of Ascent, out from Vendome Press. This is a stunning pictorial of staircases throughout history each with various purposes and architectural styles. Many of the staircases featured in this book were amazing feats of engineering at the time they were constructed, and observing them today they are no less marvelous. Staircases: The Architecture of Ascent is available at Barnes & Noble here and Amazon here.

Staircases page 25
Steps at Sigiriya in Sri Lanka
Staircases page 80
Hotel de Ville in Nancy
Doha, Museum of Islamic Arts
Doha, Museum of Islamic Arts

“… first you have to resolve the geometrical conflict between the diagonal of the pitch and the floor, and then you must consider the delicate and complex question of the handrail, turns and landings. You also have to work out how to finish both the upper level and the base – that point where the steps leave the ground and take off, soaring upwards.”

Sculptures on Stairway in Palazzo Canossa
Palazzo Canossa
Staircases pages 164-65
Harlaxton Manor in Lincolnshire
Senftenberg, Landmarke Lausitzer Seenland
Senftenberg, Landmarke Lausitzer Seenland

The author outlines the different types of staircases and gives examples of each; the typologies are as follows: straight-flight stair, wall-mounted stair, curved stair, parallel stair, unprotected stair, impossible stair, samba stair, floating stair, random stair, stairway to heaven or hell, and the imperial stair. Now wouldn’t you like to know what each of those mean?

Staircases page 144
Castle of Ludwig II of Bavaria, Neuschwanstein
Staircases page 184
Tassel Family Home, Brussels
Potsdam, Park Sanssouci
Potsdam, Park Sanssouci
Staircases page 177_top
State Law Library of Iowa, Des Moines

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