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A staircase that starts where it begins

Posted by Amber Burkhart at

If you need any more proof that staircases can double as works of art, look no further than the Umschreibung in Munich, Germany. This staircase exists solely for the function of artistic expression. Translated into English, the name of this structure means "Rewriting," which is appropriate given the fact that this flight of stairs does the opposite of what is expected of a traditional set. Instead of transporting individuals from one floor to another, the structure ends at exactly the same point it began, taking up only a few square feet of courtyard at its base. 

It starts out with basic treads rising up a central stringer that winds up the structure in a traditional spiraling coil - minimal stair parts are used to create a memorable look. Once the steps reach their peak, however, they begin descending down in a path parallel to the original coil, forming a dramatic helix. Each side of the staircase meets after ascending roughly nine meters and doing a complete 360 degree spiral. 

This structure is currently the centerpiece of an otherwise sparse courtyard for the German company KPMG Muenchen, a financial services firm with locations across the globe. The main building is a basic modernist structure accented with bright orange paneling.

The architect who designed the staircase is Olafur Eliasson, a renowned Danish-Icelandic artist who has had headline-making installations in cities the world over. Eliasson even had his very own exhibit in London's Tate Modern back in 2003 that attracted more than 2 million visitors, called "The Weather Project," which lasted in the museum's Turbine Hall for roughly six months. 

Eliasson also made headlines in 2008 when he undertook a $15 million public art display along the banks of the Hudson River in New York City that featured four man-made waterfalls placed at different elevations.


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