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The hidden ways stairs shape your life

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

Stairs don't just get you from point A to point B. Architect David Rockwell explains how they shape your movement -- and your feelings.

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Video Language:
English
Team:
TED
Project:
TED Series
Duration:
03:08

English subtitles

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