The history of Penrose stairs and its impact on design
Architectural stairs are often the focus of design. The hard work of creating things that move up and down repeatedly from one level to the next, very simple and accustomed to twisting, makes the experience of crossing stairs very unique. Our obsession with stairs and the level of illusion they create in architecture probably derive from the way stairs can twist the perception of optics and space. I understand they carry us in one direction or the other, but can the stairs be circular? Is it possible to go up and down forever?
In 1959, the mathematician’s father and son duo Lionel and Roger Penrose introduced the two-dimensional concept of Penrose stairs. In essence, the way it reads is that it can’t take the traveler forever in an upward loop and escape or be carried down. These stairs represent some ideas that violate basic Euclidean geometry. When you complete the entire stair loop, you will be returned to the same level you started.
Over time, many artists, including MC Escher, began using the Penrose stairs as a source of inspiration for their work, with a focus on impossible figures and ideas for scenes. Escher produced the famous ascending and descending. This is a famous lithograph characterized by the appearance of people walking up and down at the same time. The stairs intersect in a maze-like pattern, sprout from all directions, and are full of emotionless figures walking up (or down?) In a gentle procession. The stairs are drawn accurately to a familiar scale and feel like they exist in an incredible world, but if you look closely, the stairs meet at an impossible angle and at the same time point in the direction of gravity. increase. Just beyond the maze of stairs is an arch that looks into the world of utopia, in stark contrast to the internal turmoil. Every time you look at the stairs, the reality and illusion of the stairs change.
Mix and Step: See some multi-material stairs
— MC Escher (@artistescher) May 25, 2021
Even physicists are studying the computational properties of impossible objects such as Penrose stairs, and cognitive scientists see as much as possible why they are, even if they know they are not. I’m trying to understand. As soon as you notice the trick that the Penrose stairs play, why not convert it to a simple line on the page? And why are you trying to create this in the 3D space of the physical world?
In a construction environment where stairs exist in a usable and occupant way, the design of these fantastic stairs and their repeatability is a permanent trend. Only one staircase in space provides a clear path to move from one space to the next, but many stairs go in many possible and impossible directions and go beyond use. You can see them and create spatial quality that complements the space. Take a look at Ricardo Boffil’s projects, especially La Muralla Roja. It features a series of interlocking stairs, platforms, bridges that circulate between the project’s 50 apartments and uses the stairs as a way to blend in with the overall shape of the building. Complex travel paths allow users to think of stairs not only as a way to go up and down, but also as a way to turn around in and around a project and take advantage of hundreds of views that provide new perspectives. increase. A colorful dwelling.
Penrose’s stairs and Escher’s famous drawings have greatly influenced not only how to design spaces, but also how to understand how stairs add various elements of depth and illusion. Are the stairs just a way to move up? Or will it go down? Or is it something else?