Spiral Stairs and Other Funky Staircases

by ziggy on February 11, 2012 -- 0 comments -- Follow

A handmade cob staircase

Oliver of Natural Homes posted this nice shot of a cob staircase in Meka’s cob cottage, one of my favorite cob home interiors. I’ve often wondered what it is like to traverse these particular steps.

One thing is for sure: they are at least nice to look at!

Getting Up and Down

In our new straw bale home, we have a second story above half of the house, which means we need a way to get up there. We decided against a ladder in favor of a more “sustainable” way of getting up to the second level. We figured we (or anyone else, for that matter, if we happened to sell the home) would have an easier time accessing the upstairs area as older folks if we had a proper stair. Not only that, but on a day-to-day basis even in the present time, it is easier to carry things up and down on a staircase.

Stairs and Accessibility Issues

Even a conventional staircase can be a challenge for the mobility-impaired or the elderly, but no doubt they are more accessible than ladders. Which brings the question to mind: if you really want an accessible home, why build a second story? But as we all know, two story houses make much more efficient use of space and resources than single stories.

My mind then wanders to the photos I’ve seen of traditional buildings (as seen in books like Built By Hand), many of which are tall, multi-storied, or otherwise have awkward and non-flat living spaces. Are we just getting weaker over time, or more crippled, or do/did folks in those places make do?

I do wonder.

Building a Spiral Staircase

Well, in any case, we decided on a spiral stair case in the new timber frame/straw bale house, because: it is easier to carry things up and down on proper steps. A spiral stair case is less compact than a ladder, but more compact than a straight run of stairs. Plus, they are pretty attractive, I’d say.

I suppose it’s all a matter of balance (no pun intended). There are pros and cons to all of the choices we make, even in the simplest of matters — getting from one level to the next.

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