Can Staircase Design Influence Your Thinking?

3 min readMay 2, 2020


Building the first ever stairs seemed like a simple affair-stepping up the logs, flat rock and carved pavements- that worn into steps over the time with constant use and footfalls.

A Classic Staircase

Of course, stairs help us to go from A to B, where one location is quite elevated from the other. However, they also offer far more in terms of psychology, aesthetic and symbolism.

American architect David Rockwell in his TED Talk “The Hidden ways Stairs Change your Life” has described staircase as one of the most emotionally malleable physical element an architect has to work with.

The Stairs Inner Self

It is truly said, that it usually helps to understand the rules before you start the game. In the same fashion, the rules in architecture framework are bounded by the space, materials and budget.

The stairs in all have a common language- Treads, a horizontal line that supports our foot, and, Riser, a vertical line that separates the two treads. Nosings and Stringer enhances their beauty.

With these basic blocks, stairs can be made of different shapes and sizes-the L-shaped, straight, spiral, curved and of course, that creates a aroma of drama, elite and opulence- the grand classic stairs that bifurcate into two opposite directions.

Stairs Symbolism and Mythology

Stairs can serve both purpose-way to climb up the heaven or down to the room of hell. There are different myths associated with stairs.

Hindu holy book Ramayana, claims that if Ravana have been alive, he would have built a staircase from earth reaching heaven. Ravana, indeed was a great devotee and follower of lord Shiva, but his egotism and arrogance made him die at the feet of Ram.

The pyramids of Chichen Itza or the roads to Mount Tai in China, were the means to get through higher elevation which people sought for worship and protection.

In the essence, the stairs are the symbolic spine of the house. The differences of ascending and descending derives from the images of Heaven and Hell.

The Physiology of Stairs

Yeah, they help us in emergency but they are also form an arc within themselves. The form of the staircase determines our feeling, safety, relationship and engagement with the environment around us.

The long treads stairways keeps our heart calm, we walk slow and steady sensing the cool breeze on our face. That is totally a different experience from the narrow staircase where our heart beats faster and we rush during emergency.

It’s fascinating that people hang out on the stairs, and so the neighbors gather to play a music and chit-chat.

It’s deeply human to make use of the heights when the planes are deficient. But only stairs can give the room of imagination one wants.

Do you remember the stairs from childhood?

Yes, those are one of the best moments to cherish.