Saturday, May 1, 2010

Illuminated Stairs

Today, I woke up just in time to get ready for work and run out the door. When I got back after my 4-hour shift, I went back to bed. I slept for 8 hours last night, so I'm not sure why I was still so tired... but I fell asleep, and I woke up 2 hours later feeling enlightened and curious.

I thought to myself, "I wonder if it's possible...."

I dreamt that I was going around a mall with Matt. It was a new kind of mall, with a few corridors radiating from a central space. Everything was asymmetrical.
He kept playing tricks on me that made me feel stupid, so this isn't the nicest dream of Matthew. But that doesn't matter with this dream. It has nothing to do with Matt. Or zombies. Or scary creatures that tell me when I'm going to die.

For once, this dream reminds me why I started this blog in the first place. It's about the architecture.

Matt told me he had a surprise for me, and that I had to go upstairs. I ran down a wide hallway with marble floors and dark walls. At the end was a staircase that I could barely make out. That was because it was made of glass.

A light in the ceiling far above illuminated the space, reflecting off of the different surfaces at varying levels. It created an effect something like this:

But it was smoother and much more fluid because of how the stairs were made.
Not only were the stairs made of glass, but the sides were, as well. It's hard to explain...
(I sketched it out a little bit, but it's kind of tricky to draw solid spiral staircases made of glass. I'll try to sketch it again and tone it so that you can understand how the light really played a part in the dynamics of the space. But I have to finish up with school first....)

The stairs were attached to the walls (and there were 3 walls around it, since it was at the end of the hall) by thick glass. The staircase itself wasn't made of glass panels as you would expect. So if you're thinking of this

or this

then that's not quite it. :)

There are no glass spiral staircases made of a continuous -- or "continuous" piece (I know it's impossible to make an entire staircase of one piece of glass, but you could always assemble it in pieces). None that have been made yet that I know of, anyway. But this staircase was one piece, about 4-6 inches thick.

Even the handrails were made of glass. But instead of it being just a thin handrail, it extended to the walls and created a continuous plane that frames the staircase all the way up. Both the staircase and the handrail plane were very thick and heavy, made of one piece.
It was all one piece, but there was steel reinforcing.

If you embed steel in molten glass and let it cool, would it crack the glass or something?
Is there any reason it can't be done?

Because it looked pretty cool in my dream.

If you're curious as to how the rest of my dream played out, here's how it went.

Matt playfully pushed me when I was running up the steps. But I slowed down to admire the staircase when he did it, and I fell over while he ran ahead of me. So I got pissed and didn't want to walk with him anymore. xD

His surprise for me?
At the top of the mall was an atrium (each of the corridors had double heights so that the roofs of the stores became pathways that were sheltered by one roof made of glass and steel -- I really have to sketch this out, it was awesome).
There was an event that day, where butterflies were released somewhere above. Matt made me rush upstairs so that I could see it. We made it just in time to see a horde of butterflies escape from cages and fly off into open space.

Don't ask me how maintenance would get them all back. I wondered the same thing, after staring in amazement for a few minutes.
There were going to be a lot of dead butterflies in a few hours/days.