Divertimenti : Stairways

The first part of my field research is over and I'm back at my desk and my life, trying to make some sense of all the things I saw and heard and thought while I was away. The blogs have been a helpful tool in encouraging me to make some shape out of it all but I'm conscious there are lots of random sights and scenes that don't fit into a big scheme just yet. Some appeared on my twitter feed, others are just sitting on my laptop waiting for their moment in the sun. So I'm planning a series of "divertimenti" to capture some of the details who knows, may turn out to be the key to my research...


I got to noticing the impact in public buildings of a well-designed and generous stair. Here are some of my favourite sightings:

19th century staircase at the former theatre La Gaite Lyrique. Recently converted into a centre for digital arts, most of the building is singularly lacking in character but the staircase continues to express some life.

The entire structure of the Reichstag Dome serves as a stairway up to heaven and down to reunification and democracy. Architecture by Norman Foster. Image by John Dawson

A beautifully restrained staircase follows the contours of the hilltop site in David Chipperfield's Modern Literature Museum in Marbach Germany. 

Berlage's clear lines, top lighting and contrasting colour scheme make his staircases into Mondrian-like works of art.

The clean lines and spare surfaces of the Grand Stair at the Neues Museum is a confident and generous interpretation of the 19th century original destroyed during World War II. Architecture by David Chipperfield Architects. Image by David Kasparek

A sweeping stair at the Museum of Asian Art in Paris creates a sense of great occasion. The curving structure offers views down into the grand hall and into the beautifully-sequenced exhibition spaces on the upper levels.