A Living Staircase Adds A Natural Element To A London Office

The new Ampersand office located in Soho, London is one of the most creative work spaces designed so far and for a single reason: an impressive spiral staircase. The 12.5 meter high structure was a project by Paul Cocksedge in collaboration with engineering firm Arup.


The multidisciplinary designer won the project in 2013 by proposing the idea of a staircase without a central column. This detail allowed the designer to completely rethink the staircase and to give it a new and unique identity.


Because there is no load-bearing pillar at the core, each level of the staircase functions as a platform and each one has a different function. In addition, this staircase is wider than a standard one and this allows each platform to function as a social space with multiple functions such as casual meetings or lunch spots.


The spirals of the staircase open onto three circular wooden platforms, forming a 4-story structure. The platforms are lined with circular benches and the balustrades are covered with fresh plants and flowers. The first floor serves as a small library filled with books selected by the designer.


The second platform is decorated with a suspended Zettel’z 5 lamp by Ingo Maurer. It has a steel construction and a multitude of papers on which employees can write and leave messages.


At the top there’s a seating nook, a hot-water machine and the balustrade features fresh mint plants. The employees can come here and brew their own tea while conversing with others or simply relaxing.


The staircase was built using steel and American white oak. It was envisioned as a refreshing element in an office infused with technology. The staircase is a natural, low-tech structure which adds a burst of color and a fresh touch to the whole office. In addition, the plants also help purify the air.


The atrium can be seen from all four levels of the staircase and this unusual design has numerous advantages. It was chosen as a means to encourage chance meeting between employees and to stimulate interactions and creativity. Compared to a lift or a standard staircase, this design is definitely superior from this point of view.


The design also complements the office and adds something new and original, plus the staircase can be used in a variety of different ways allowing the staff to make it their own by planting edible herbs, small-fruit bearing plants or by using the different platforms in new and ingenious ways.