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Time in a Staircase

Updated: Aug 15, 2021

The staircase is a fundamental element of architecture; as necessary to buildings as

walls or roof. Stairs take us up to different building levels as they connect different stories or spaces. Stairs keep our blood moving and the heart pumping.

What makes the staircase different from other elements of architecture is that we inevitably touch a staircase with each use by stepping on it. We create a relationship that is like no other, by trusting the tread to hold us, to be safe, and in return, little by little, we alter its form and mark its age.

There are many ancient famous staircases around the world: from the steps of the Acropolis to the ever-popular Spanish steps in Rome. The tactile relationships between us and the staircase welcome their transformation. We take part in the charming process of the treads as we walk up and down. Over time the form of each tread is worn in most used places, showing where those before us have walked. These staircases reveal their history in each tread, where we can see the presence of time.

The staircase of the Acropolis has 80 treads made of white marble stone. At the back of the tread, where the white stone is hardly ever touched, the stone remains unchanged. The sharp line is still crisp and preserved as close to the look from thousands of years ago. The unchanged form of the tread is where we see the past, while at the front we experience the present - the once sharp corner of the step has become a subtle curve, worn down from the countless soles that have stepped upon it.

As we walk up this staircase, there is an awareness of the magnitude of people that have stepped on shaping these treads. There is a certain charm to this undulation that reminds us of the time and age that speaks of the building quality, which has resisted time, while gracefully showing its age.

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