The Living Staircase


Designer Paul Cocksedge has completed a spiral staircase featuring a garden, a library and a tea bar. The four-storey Living Staircase gets its name from the plants that grow on top of its balustrades and is located in the atrium of Ampersand, an office building for creative technology businesses in Soho, central London.

It features circular social spaces dedicated to different functions at every level and is designed to encourage chance meetings between workers.

"We wanted to create a staircase that allowed moments where you could bump into someone or have a conversation with someone who you might never get the chance to talk to if you did move through the building by a lift or a conventional staircase," Cocksedge told Dezeen.

Cocksedge won the commission for the staircase in 2013 with an idea for a spiral stairway without a central column. He worked with engineering firm Arup to create the final design.

"It's a unique space, because you can see the atrium from all of the floors," Cocksedge told Dezeen. "We were trying to think of something that could be placed there which would complement the building but also add something."

On the first floor, a small curated library of books selected by the design team is provided for inspiration and entertainment.

On the middle level hangs a Zettel'z 5 lamp by German lighting designer Ingo Maurer. Cocksedge hopes that workers will use the pieces of paper that hang from the steel chandelier to leave notes for each other.

At the top, a hot-water machine accompanies a group of mint plants to encourage users to brew their own healthy cups of tea.

The plants – which workers will be encouraged to look after – add colour and a low-tech feel to the building.

"There's going to be technology everywhere," said Cocksedge. "We felt that we needed a burst of colour and we needed to bring a natural element into it."