This Obesity Panacea post on staircase signs reminded me of a bugbear I’ve been meaning to write about for a long time. The Obesity Panacea post notes, “people don't use staircases that are hard to find,” but there’s another factor that I think impacts on staircase use.
Here’s a picture of an elevator on campus.
The elevator is well lit. There’s a television to look at while you’re waiting. Some have carpeting, maybe even some hardwood accents. In short, getting onto an elevator is an aesthetically pleasing experience.
Here’s a stairwell in the same building:
Dimly lit. Nothing but bare concrete. Unkempt. If I didn’t know I was in an academic building, I’d half expect to find a wino pissing in the corner.
Could it possibly look more like a place you are actively discouraged from using? You might as well put up a sign that says, “Enter at your own risk” or “The elevator that the fun people take is around the corner, loser.”
Why don’t architects make nice stairwells? Why not light them properly, put them in places that get sunlight, put some paint on the walls?
And we wonder why people don’t want to take the stairs, are less active, and are becoming increasingly obese.