Over time, and with the change of architectural solutions, also for saving space – the staircase has become a very important part of human life. Only upon the emergence of the first sedentary population, small villages began to settle. Later they evolved into larger cities. Therefore, in order to save space, houses began to grow upwards, and so the demand for stairs arose.
The first settlements used simple ladders as stairs. This was highly beneficial in the construction of tall structures, for connecting different floors. Ladders were soon replaced by the first real stairs made out of stone or hard earth. The only problem with the stone stairs was that they could no longer be corrected if the job was done incorrectly, or when the stairs were worn out. Many examples of stone or hard earth carved staircase can be found in civilizations such as the Romans, Greeks, and Egyptians.
With the beginning of active use of wood in the construction, and development of its processing tools, the production of stairs and stair railings has become much more elaborate and complex – it allowed to make more interesting interior solutions. Carpenters were the only people engaged in the production of stairs and capable of their intricate decoration. In England in good times – in the golden age, under the reign of Victoria, they began using iron in the production of stair railings and stairs. Blacksmiths were also involved in the production of these interior fittings and decoration.
It was during the Victorian times when the use of iron in stairs helped create circular stairs. This type of stairs soon became quite popular because it was significantly different from predecessors – and took much less space. Iron is still being used in the production of stairs. Upon the development of a variety of metals, blacksmiths began actively offering decorated stair railings exclusively made of metal.
One should not forget stone. In the Middle Ages, massive exterior stair made of stone was a mandatory detail of every palace. In larger areas, such as the Paris Opera, you can also see impressive staircase made of stone. Later it was replaced by concrete and other construction mixes, allowing faster production of necessary shapes. At present, staircase for the outdoors are usually cast using concrete mixtures.
Finally, in the nineteenth century, with the invention of the elevator and escalator, architectural housing solutions have changed considerably. Thanks to these inventions, skyscrapers have become very practical – they not only save area but also are very useful in terms of time. Also, materials used in our times for stairs have become much “greener”. Wood is replaced by experimental recycled materials, iron is replaced by much cheaper, lighter alloys less detrimental to the nature. Glass staircases and handrails became very popular in modern houses. It is evident that with changing needs of the mankind, methods used in the production of stairs are also changing.
When going back to the vertical elevation systems, one should mention that this invention allowed the humanity to approach to new architectural solutions in rapid steps. However, the staircase is still there. Certainly, there is not much demand for their decoration in skyscrapers, but in classical homes, the demand for decorated handrails is still high and even necessary. Interior designers will insist on the use of metal or wooden railings at home, were decoration is dominated by wood. Decorated stair railings is a very important part of the interior in villas, drawing the attention. No matter how we want to innovate, it is sometimes quite difficult to escape from the trends tested by centuries.
One may foresee that glass, metal and wood substitutes will be used in modern style housing and offices. However, although the stairs from their very beginning have lost some of their practical benefits, but most likely they will always remain important in classical residential interiors.