Upon first gazing at the striking design of StairStalk at the HIDE restaurant in London, some can't help but ponder: "How difficult is this to actually walk on?" says Aditya Bhatt, architectural designer with
Atmos Studio, the London-based designers of the structure. "Once you get over that initial sort of awe and wonder of, 'Oh my god, is this even possible?' it's actually very easy to walk on," Bhatt says.
The dramatic staircase, which starts in the basement and twists through two levels of the posh English bar's wide-plank oak floors, was inspired by a tree bursting from the ground, Bhatt says. It features a steel core reinforced with plywood and layered with 48,437 square feet of oak veneer on the main structure, and 1,614 square feet on its 42 treads, bent and applied using more than half a ton of polyurethane glue. It was manufactured in Poland between April and August 2017 by Trabczynski Staircases, which cut the plywood in the treads with a CNC machine—and everything else by hand. "There was no room for repetition," Bhatt says of the treads, the inner radii of which slowly increase as the outer radii decrease, producing a "nudging" effect. "If you've kind of found a comfort zone on the outer periphery, you find yourself being drawn automatically in toward the center," Bhatt says. Stained and finished with three coats of Osmo hardwax oil, the color of the stairs also gradually gets lighter as you climb to the top.
Installation in London began this year in February and ended in May, says Bhatt, who admits having initial concerns about executing the demanding design. But after a collective 10,000 hours of work, Trabczynski was able to bring it to life—almost literally, as Bhatt describes it. "It's like the staircase has grown…and it's constantly moving," he says. "It's almost like it's a living being."