Inspired by the spine of a whale, the Vertebrae Staircase is a concept by artist and architect Andrew McConnell
The piece is not simply mimicry of organic form but an exploration in shaping structure. Much of the design work went into refining the single component, or vertebra, that mate with each other creating a unified spine running from floor plate to floor plate.
The outer surface is composed of multiple layers of a durable composite fibre material while inside are the key structural elements. The vertebrae are mated using steel fittings and locked together with steel pins. When all the connections are made, continuous structural spirals run through every vertebra at the hand rail and beside each step, reinforced by structural foam and a network of steel rods.
Steel plates connected to the modified base and top vertebrae are anchored to the floors. Beyond this, there are no hidden supports as the Staircase is designed to act as one structural element, bearing the loads of its users and transferring these forces to the floor plates.
The pinned connections at the floor plates combined with the connections between vertebrae allow the staircase to successfully resist twisting and rotational forces that result from the cantilevered spiral and cantilevered steps.