The hidden ways stairs shape your life | Small Thing Big Idea, a TED series


Translator: Krystian Aparta
Reviewer: Camille Martínez I think stairs may be one of the most emotionally
malleable physical elements that an architect has to work with. [Small thing. Big idea.] [David Rockwell on
the Stairs] At its most basic, a stair is a way
to get from point A to point B at different elevations. Stairs have a common language. Treads, which is the thing
that you walk on. Riser, which is the vertical element
that separates the two treads. A lot of stairs have nosings
that create a kind of edge. And then, the connected piece
is a stringer. Those pieces, in different forms,
make up all stairs. I assume stairs came to be
from the first time someone said, “I want to get to this higher rock
from the lower rock.” People climbed
using whatever was available: stepped logs, ladders and natural pathways
that were worn over time. Some of the earliest staircases,
like the pyramids in Chichén Itzá or the roads to Mount Tai in China, were a means of getting
to a higher elevation, which people sought
for worship or for protection. As engineering has evolved,
so has what’s practical. Stairs can be made
from all kinds of material. There are linear stairs,
there are spiraled stairs. Stairs can be indoors,
they can be outdoors. They clearly help us in an emergency. But they’re also a form of art
in and of themselves. As we move across a stairway, the form dictates our pacing,
our feeling, our safety and our relationship and engagement
with the space around us. So for a second, think about stepping down
a gradual, monumental staircase like the one in front
of the New York Public Library. From those steps, you have a view of the street
and all the people around you, and your walk is slow and steady
because the tread is so wide. That’s a totally different experience than going down the narrow staircase
to, say, an old pub, where you spill into the room. There, you encounter tall risers,
so you move more quickly. Stairs add enormous drama. Think about how stairs
signaled a grand entrance and were the star of that moment. Stairs can even be heroic. The staircase that remained standing
after September 11th and the attack on the World Trade Center was dubbed the “Survivors’ Staircase,” because it played such a central role
in leading hundreds of people to safety. But small stairs
can have a huge impact, too. The stoop is a place
that invites neighbors to gather, blast music, and watch the city in motion. It’s fascinating to me that you see people
wanting to hang out on the stairs. I think they fill
a deeply human need we have to inhabit a space
more than just on the ground plane. And so if you’re able to sit
halfway up there, you’re in a kind of magical place.

61 thoughts on “The hidden ways stairs shape your life | Small Thing Big Idea, a TED series

  1. People don't sit on stairs because they love to sit on stairs. That is fucking ridiculous. People sit on stairs when there is no where to sit. Also, the idea of referring to an inanimate object, in the context of 9/11 no less, 'heroic'; it's absolutely fucking ridiculous. They made the building out of materials that caused suffering through their design and toxicity. 'Heroic Stairs'. Sure.

  2. TED: Please don't shoot peoples faces at F1.4, when your subject moves around while talking, they go in and out of focus. It's frustrating. F4 is fine.

  3. Wow. That concept of stairs as a gathering place is really true if your neighborhood is set up right. All our stairs are tucked back in behind the bulk of our garages so we're all quietly separated from our neighbors.

  4. That's not worship. That's evil imagery. Why would you include such things in a TED talk that's got to do with stairs and likely kids around the world would be watching?

  5. They tied Folks into tight balls and tossed them down the Ancient Central and South American Stone Staircases breaking every bone in their body. Stairs weren’t so friendly back in the day. Not mentioned here?

  6. The first half of this video is background info. If you understand the basics of stairs, you can skip to the second half. which is really interesting.

  7. wau, someone else thinks sameway. im carpenter and build several stairs with concrete. there is really something unexplained emotions when the work is in progress 😀 i just love stairs.

  8. These “small things” series reminds me of the movie on Sand that Ms. Hover shows Lisa’s second grade class on the Simpsons to illustrate her half-assed, uninspired teaching methods.

  9. An ode to stairs – fabulous – I am a passionate stair/stoop sitter. I love the concept of this series, and am now going to use these as thought starters and warm ups for students and participants in universities and other institutes I'm at. Thank you so much!

  10. Today stairs, tomarrow footpath and next day toilet seat…….😂😂😂sorry for bad joke……it's just a stair dude….take it easy

  11. Oh, I know. When building a high rise apartment building put the elevator and the gym right out by the main entrance where everyone can easily find it, but hide the stairs off in a corner somewhere and have them still covered in saw dust over 6mo after the building is done being built.

  12. When I was in primary school the stairs of my school were always the place where all the students would meet and sit down when there was some big anouncement.

  13. An escalator can never break: it can only become stairs. You should never see an Escalator Temporarily Out Of Order sign, just Escalator Temporarily Stairs. Sorry for the convenience. ~ Mitch Hedberg (RIP)

  14. I sometimes find it astounding how much space architects devote to stairs. Just look at 2:23 almost the entire space is filled with the staircase.

  15. You'll have to excuse me if I don't get all misty over stairs. You failed to note how isolating and limiting they are for those with even minor mobility issues – from uncomfortable to literally impossible.

  16. يا إلهي
    يجب ان تعودو في التفكير بان تزيلو اللغة الانجليزية من العالم ونشر اللغة العربية

    🤕😭😢😭

  17. Watching this video alongside the other Small Thing Big Idea uploads really illustrates the sorry state of architecture today, we really have to stretch to have an idea worth spreading.
    And this is coming from a lover of Architecture, we need to do better.

  18. It's amazing to hear how architects could use stairs in such a transformative and design-focus manner. Though I wish someone was able to redesign the stairs in some of the NYC subways. There's one of them nearby Grand Central that is absolutely killer to walk up.

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