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Architecture That Encourages People to Take the Stairs

Building Incentive to Take the Stairs

It's certainly no secret that I'm a big fan of taking the stairs. And more and more, it seems that architects are becoming fans too. First, I heard about skip-stop elevators, which stop at every other floor with stairs filling in the gaps. Now, the latest issue of Metropolis magazine has a cool profile of designer Bruce Fowle, who focuses on
new ways to encourage stair-climbing through architecture.

Fowle believes that if you make stairways accessible and inviting — as opposed to gray, dark, and closed-off — people will be more apt to take them. For the new New York Times building, Fowle included centrally located fire stairs and bright-red open stairwells on the building's windowed corners.

For more on how Fowle makes buildings stair-friendly,

Though Fowle has employed a number of different tactics, all of his designs focus on getting people walking around and enjoying natural light. Not only can this keep employees healthier, but it also encourages them to interact more. From the Metropolis story:

Fowle has crafted sunlit staircases to be places where people will gravitate, both to circulate and to socialize. He envisions the stairs inside his buildings functioning the way the front stoop does in an urban neighborhood.

People will naturally choose stairs over elevators, the think­­­ing goes, if you locate them conveniently and treat them as avenues for spontaneous encounters.

It sure beats trudging up a cement stairway lit by fluorescent lights! What do you think: Would sunnier, more accessible stairwells encourage you to take the stairs more?


Join The Conversation
Spectra Spectra 9 years
Taking the stairs is faster than taking the save an average of about 11 seconds per floor by taking the stairs. Otherwise you have to wait for the elevator and it's soooo slow. I take the stairs when I AM in a hurry!
TFS TFS 9 years
i think wed like to take the stairs but some of us just dont have the time.
i-am-awesomeness i-am-awesomeness 9 years
That sounds good in theory but it's horrible that people have to be forced to exercise through the design of buildings, or rather the other way around. If people know what they do about the benefits of exercise and refuse to do it, then let them suffer the consequences. Not my freakin' problem. And what about handicapped/elderly people who cannot walk up the stairs?!
Spectra Spectra 9 years
I usually take the stairs, but it'd sure be nice if they were actually nice instead of being dark, boring, and usually smelling like urine (I wonder just how many drunks duck into stairwells to grosses me out).
DeviousMuse DeviousMuse 9 years
When it's only a few floors to walk between, it's great. When I worked for one of my previous companies, the staff area comprised of 3 floors in our office building, so they incorporated the interior stairwells into part of the design. Walking around between floors was never something I dreaded, as I didn't feel confined. And it helped with one of my pet peeves - people taking elevators for one floor up/down when there were stairs available!
rpenner rpenner 9 years
I think this is a great idea. But I don't think they should eliminate elevators all together seeing as walking up 35 flights of stairs would not be fun even if they were well-lit and inviting stairways.
Francoisehardly Francoisehardly 9 years
I try to take the stairs as much as possible especially since I don't really like elevators. I think it's a good idea.
ilanac13 ilanac13 9 years
i think that it all depends on how high you have to go. i work on the 34th floor - so to be honest, i wouldn't take the stairs even if they were plush and amazing. in my apt building, we have an elevator, but i always take the stairs - but then again, i'm not THAT high up and they are pretty stairs since it's a pre-war building.
laura6567 laura6567 9 years
I think it's a great idea. Last year I lived on the 4th floor of my dorm building with no elevator. I dreaded the stairs, they were the kind with no windows, fluorescent lights, and were very narrow. sometimes I thought the stairs would never end. Now I live on the third floor in my apartment building, which is one of those old Victorian mansions that is now a bunch of apartments (no elevators). The wall along the stairs is basically all windows, and they're nicely carpeted and very spacious. I've never once minded going up the stairs (other than moving and occasionally carrying my laundry up!) From experience, it's much easier to actually use the stairs if they're inviting!
cassedy04 cassedy04 9 years
i think that is a fantastic idea. i know that i would take the stairs in my apartment building a lot more if they werent so spooky and scary. especially in a city, you never know who could be lurking in the stairwell. but if its well lit and happy-looking, it would be not as scary!
kaenai kaenai 9 years
That is annoying as hell. People who want to take the stairs will do that anyway. And if someone doesn't have time to go skipping from elevator to stairwell and back again, what then? There should at last be an option to stop where you want - oh wait, there is. A regular elevator. What a waste of engineering talent. I'm sure there are things more important they could be working on than elevators that don't stop where you want them to.
aimeeb aimeeb 9 years
I always try to take the stairs when I can.
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