We’ve all seen them. You know the ones. The super-sleek, super-sexy stair designs.  The ones that, without fail, attract the design-minded like moths to a flame. We know them well; they’re always defying gravity with open cantilevered treads and enigmatically hidden connections. Handrails, when actually implemented, are a mere wisp of steel delicately gliding above the composition. This elite class of stair is generally white and always lead to some lofty, exclusive eden  – a place where one leisurely lounges, nibbling on figs, admiring the stair. And they usually float above a pool of water or any variety of objects found in the “Dangerous To Fall In” category. Admit it, you’re fascinated by them.

It’s worth noting that these stairs bear no resemblance whatsoever to anything that can even remotely be designed, permitted, built, inspected, or approved within the United States of America. Not a one. No guard between the open treads? No can do. More than 4 inches of open space between guardrails? Negatory. No guardrails? Go fish.

For us architects it’s a cocktail made with equal parts frustration and envy –throw in a dash of resentment for good measure and garnish with a twist of cynicism. Each time we open the latest design-mag, it’s the same bitter taste: a smoking hot, totally unrealistic open-tread, cantilevered, guardrail-less stair. Did the building code finally change to allow for more flexibility in stair design? Or did someone figure out a clever new way to interpret the code? Maybe we missed a building code exception? Oh, wait,….it’s in….Brazil?

So it goes.

Whether this is our way of liberating ourselves from stair envy or simply an enjoyable exercise to poke fun at stair design that might as well be on Mars, we’re launching the inaugural Ridiculous Stair Awards. Here are the top ten “winners” in reverse order:



 Black stair by Ecole.



VDVT House by Boetzkes | Helder



Circular Stairway by satt



Home Studio by ataSTUDIO



Shallard House by Lat Forty Five



Cool ribbon staircase by HSH Architects.



Minimal Stair by tecARCHITECTURE



Illuminated floating stair photography by Veronica Morales Angulo



Loft F27 by Schlosser + Partner

And the winner is…



Floating Concrete Stair by Ábaton Arquitectura

Big thanks to contemporist.com and stairporn.org.

Let us know if we’ve missed any contenders in the comments below.

Cheers from TeamBUILD