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Helix by Matter


Helix is a half-scale spi­ral stair created by Matter design studio . While a reduced size resolves a num­ber of prac­ti­cal concerns—weight, lia­bil­ity, access—the piece cel­e­brates its impracticality. It is both column and stair, yet hangs from the ceiling. Its uncertainty and changed scale inject play­ful char­ac­ter­is­tics into the surrounding space, while main­tain­ing an allegiance to the past and known. Helix will be exhibit­ing at this years Design Bien­nial Boston.

Each tread of the stair is cast in a fully encap­su­lated cus­tom mold. These molds are rub­ber with a solid wood mother-mold to clamp the assem­bly together. The molds are vibrated rig­or­ously dur­ing the pour­ing process and then imme­di­ately steamed for twelve hours to cure.

The entire stair assem­bly hangs from a beam two sto­ries tall. This beam then drops down a threaded rod to a base that serves as a pen­du­lum bal­ance. Each tread is designed to hook over this threaded rod and be bolted down to its neigh­bor below. The geom­e­try of these treads lock into each other with a series of three-dimensional keys that reduce any shear or slip­ping between units. Typ­i­cally a stone spi­ral stair is held from the perime­ter. In this case, the stair is com­pressed in the col­umn to ensure stability.