The Building Regulations 2000, Access to and use of buildings, Approved Document M

Recently at work I was charged with the task of drawing a stairwell that connected an existing building to our proposed building.  Stairs can be tricky at the best of times; there are strict regulations on staircase width, height of step (riser), length of step (going); There must be landings at regular intervals – the length of which has to be equal or more than the clear width of the stair, and the handrails must be a certain height from the step, width away from the wall, and must extend 300mm from the end of the run. All of these factors (and a few more) make for a challenging task at the best of time, but when designing stairs within a pre-determined space (restricted floor to floor heights, existing walls) it becomes all the more.. exciting!

Stairs Model (1)

Here’s a small clip from my stairwell drawing. As you can see, the floor levels of each building are not nearly similar, leaving us with some connections of 23 risers, some with 4. There is even a ramp on the top floor; we found that the height difference was such that we couldn’t fit regulation complying steps in – a riser must be 150-170mm.

So with all of this, I’ve much more aware of the stairs around me lately. A trip to Tate Britain was well timed, as we were able to see the Cruso St. John staircase I’d read about in January’s Architect’s Journal. A recent site visit took me into the Fitzwilliam College Library, Cambridge which has some academic stairs.


These photos really don’t do this staircase in the rotunda justice because my phone camera doesn’t handle the light well, but if you’re in the area these are definitely worth going to have a look at. There’s also a cracking Richard Deacon exhibition on at the moment.. two birds one stone? Read more here.


Within the Fitzwilliam College Library I came across these stairs. A great use of space.. although those desk’s wouldn’t be big enough for me to work on.


Another site visit, this time to the University of East Anglia. I really like the teal tiles used around the core of this staircase, I think they look beautiful against the stone pebbles at the base and the concrete steps.


Over Christmas, my mother and I took a trip to Liverpool (photo diary to come, if a little late…). I’m starting to see a spiral theme recurring, but perhaps that’s just because they are the most dramatic and attractive way to have commercial stairs. Anyway, with the light flooding in from above and the vast openness of the space, these are worth the climb.

Okay so these aren’t really stairs, but the Tate Britain has a Sketches for Spaces display on until April that shows the artwork within the houses of the aristocracy, the churches, and other public buildings between 1630-1730. Murals painted onto walls, ceilings and under staircases, all with a mesmerizing amount of detail. Find out more here.


There are far too many types of staircases to do a ‘Favourites’ post, and even these 5 I’ve taken from Dezeen’s Pintrest (here) were chosen in a sort of rush (although I stand by them all as beautiful pieces of work). The examples by Saucier + Perrotte are not my usual style, but they remind me of the one’s we’ve designed and, although ours won’t be orange, I think our’s will look similar.


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