A solid footing on an upward spiral
EeStairs designed a sweeping staircase for the new headquarters of Dutch manufacturer Vreugdenhil.
EeStairs has an array of staircases utilising bamboo as their primary material. Why is that?
To meet the ever-growing demand for sustainable buildings it is important for manufacturers and designers to be innovative and intelligent about the products they use in projects for green-minded clients. A material which offers compelling advantages in eco-friendly staircase design is bamboo – which in contrast to most hardwoods, grows exceptionally quickly; in the right conditions growth of up to 100cm (38 inches) in 24 hours has been recorded. Furthermore natural stock is abundant in various regions across the world and bamboo is self renewing due to the nature of its root structure making it a wonder naturally sustainable product.
Bamboo has been an important product in South East Asian construction for millennia due to its excellent properties, such as resistance to expansion and contraction. Even today, in cities as developed as Hong Kong bamboo is used as a main component in basic housing as well as scaffolding for some of the regions larger buildings.
Bamboo is ideal for stair design due to a variety of structural properties. Firstly, bamboo is a resilient, wear-resistant material making it an ideal replacement for steel or concrete in a stair’s treads, riser and strings. The process that bamboo goes through to make it malleable involves the material being turned and then pressed to create a flexible but robust end product. The key to bamboo’s strength lies in the pressing process (to form boards) which delivers a rigid composite of multiple strands.
In buildings which may be affected by humidity, bamboo can prove to be an invaluable material due its natural resistance to temperature and moisture levels. Upon the completion of processing, bamboo doesn’t expand or shrink, which means unlike some materials it will retain the designer’s desired form and shape. Furthermore, bamboo can be treated with chemicals such as borax and boric acid (before it is machined into shape) which act as a fire retardant and insecticide respectively.
Another quality that makes bamboo a practical alternative for other hardwoods is the fact that the material can be lacquered, stained and painted in any colour. This versatility upon application means that a bamboo staircase can be adapted to suit a variety of interior designs – and not necessarily just spaces which already incorporate wood. However, due to the natural beauty that bamboo offers following the pressing process, many staircase designers choose to embrace bamboo’s natural form by only adding a light lacquered finish.
The versatility of bamboo makes it an ideal component for different types of staircases – from straight stairs which rise in one direction with no turns, cantilevered flights or elaborate sweeping helical staircases.