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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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