Design and exercise

Bullitt Center Staircase
Bullitt Center Staircase

An article with a catchy title, Office Building encourages exercise by creating more appealing stairways, from PSFK talks about the Bullitt Center, a carbon neutral office building being built in Seattle.  Inculded in the latest energy and sustainability innovations is making the stairs attractive so people will use them.  They are spacious, with plenty of light.  A modern design that harks back to the days before elevators when stairs were more than just means of egress.

While article places this within the context of the well being of the building’s users, I am more struck about about the relationship between design and exercise.  How many of the labor saving devices we have grown accustomed to, reduce the amount of exercise we do on a daily basis, much to the detriment of our own health.  Sure, this frees us to choose the type of exercise we might prefer doing, but than we often pay twice.  Once for the labor saving elements and another to the gym to make up for it.  It turns out climbing stairs is great exercise.

I am all for nicer stairs in buildings and encouraging people to use them.  There are a number of elements that make this difficult.  They are often placed with only egress in mind so are not located in easy to use places.  They often don’t have natural light and are often utilitarian in design.  Nothing says things aren’t important than no attention to detail. Security often makes them inconvenient.  You can enter them, but can necessarily get out at the floor you want.

In the an example of practicing what I preach, we moved our fridge down into the basement of our house a number of years ago (although, admittedly, is was because we were annoyed by the noise).  However, climbing the stairs has helped keep us fit.  For those you are into serious training and work in a tall building, you can combine work and exercise with this routine.  It would be even better in a nicer stair.  Who needs the gym?