Santa Fe’s Loretto Chapel was due for completion when everyone realised that there is no staircase available to access the choir loft. The sudden death of the architect Antoine Mouly made it impossible to apply timely remediation. In vain did everyone search for a suitable person who could build a staircase in a small place like the interior of the chapel.
“It was too small an area and only a ladder could be accommodated there,” was the uniform verdict. Nearly hopeless, the nuns of the chapel who badly needed a staircase instead of a ladder prayed hard to St Joseph for nine consecutive days.
As the prayer ceased a strange man with dishevelled looks appeared in the doorway. He assured that he would build a stair in that spot, but only if complete privacy is granted to him. His wishes were granted and the magnificent staircase of Loretto Chapel was born in 1878.
But no trace could be found of the man who created this wonderful piece of architecture. The staircase has two complete 360 degree spirals without any means of support. Till date people flock the place to appreciate this glorious feat.
Allow a little space to a spiral staircase and it can really transform your interior. If you are still not sure read the following guide and have a look at some of the beautiful instances. What’s more we also have suggestions for you that would help you make the best use of your under stair space.
Spiral staircases can be a potent piece of functional sculpture. Nowadays when free flowing design concept and volumetric distribution of living area are in vogue, spiral staircases can bring in a touch of old world glamour. KPMG’s double spiral staircase in Munich is nothing but a piece of art built to decorate its courtyard. Ironically, this has no functional value as the stairs would not lead you to anywhere. But a simple spiral staircase like this one designed by Nord Scale can act both as a genuine functional piece and decorative item.
Spiral staircases often prove to be a remarkably simple and affordable solution for accessing the loft space and upper level floors. No major structural modification of the building is necessary for erecting a spiral staircase. It does not obstruct the flow of light, is space saving and available in a range of colours and materials. This can be used as a second staircase to access the master bedroom from terrace, fire escape or service stair in a domestic set up. Moreover, as we have already learned, this type of stairs can be unique feature of an open floor plan.
The story of Loretto Chapel shows spiral staircases’ indispensability for small spaces. Traditional homes still retain library staircases as one of their most prominent features appropriate for relatively small areas. Spiral staircases can be built inside a house, an apartment or outside it for direct accesses to specific parts of a building. Its aesthetic qualities tend to make it fitting for almost all areas of a building.
Though suitable for small spaces it would be incorrect to think that spiral staircases exist for smaller areas only. The famous spiral staircase of Palazzo Barberini, one of Francesco Borromini’s masterful creations, would have never come to exist if this type of staircase failed to rise to the occasion. While designing for a larger space, architects have a greater room for manoeuvring and innovation. One thing however remains unchanged. Whether they occupy bigger space or small, spiral staircases beautify the area almost effortlessly.
Spiral staircases made of metal are commonest of all. These are seen gracing the patios, libraries, living rooms and kitchen of many houses, traditional or contemporary. A combination of wood and metal are sometimes used to create chic spiral staircases as well. In case of time limitation or budgetary constraints you can consider pre-made staircases as opposed to custom built ones. Steel spiral staircases are durable, can withstand greater footfall and variation in weather conditions. Regular maintenance is needed to keep it in prim condition though.
Due to its organic look and presence wooden spiral staircases tend to enhance the charm of a space in more ways than one. The softer surface is more soothing for the feet. Just with a coat of paint it can be stylised in new ways. Wooden spiral staircase generally takes more space than its metallic counterpart and is also heavier in built. But they are equally durable and suitable for any type of interior décor, traditional or modern.
The stone spiral staircase of Venice’s Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo attracted the likes of Orson Welles who filmed a part of his acclaimed film Othello there. Mainly due to its heaviness stone spiral staircases are fast becoming a rarity. When space and budget cause no hindrances, a stone spiral staircase could be built in a home to introduce an element of timelessness. Limestone spiral staircases have an everlasting appeal and are suitable for both outdoor and indoor usages. Cast stones, mimicking the real ones, are also used in building spiral staircases that are suited for various purposes.