Public: Architecture: Feature
Figure of 8 Stairs   (+3)  [vote for, against]
Instead of configuring a stairwell as a space-saving spiral, waste a bit to improve on this, as suggested. The main benefit is you'd be able to run up 20 storeys without getting dizzy.

When my brother was young, one of the ways he tried keeping fit was running up the stairs instead of using the lifts.

I used to sort-of follow suit when I visited, by attempting the ascent at a fast walk, and I found I was quite unpleasantly dizzy after 5 floors or so. After that, it took a bit of self-discipline not to bail out and ride the rest of the way. (And the passage up top was not enclosed, so the last little walk from stair head to front door had a vertiginous aspect - most unconfirming and detabulated).

Now if stairs ran in figures of eight, that wouldn't happen. Upon reaching your floor (at your own gait and speed) you would be as stable as that priest mate of yours is, walking a straight line and so on for the officers at the roadblock.

As soon as people started to realise the stairs no longer make you dizzy, they'd start incorporating a few flights into their ascents to their clouds, and some might even be crazy enough to just run the whole lot. (My brother said doing it every day up that spiral never habituated him; his head was always spinning like a top when he got to his floor.)

... and now imagine a Skywalk up on floor 15, as well.

You could have a marathon in a downtown like that.
-- skoomphemph, Apr 18 2014

Figure-8 Slide Figure-8_20Slide
An older Idea here, somewhat related. [Vernon, Apr 19 2014]

I like it. Some gifted architect somewhere in the world must have designed this as a one-off, but that's not good enough. I'd like to see them everywhere. There are only one or two buildings around here that are taller than my house/business (never thought of that until now), but I plan to start bothering their owners about remodeling the stairwells this very afternoon.
-- Alterother, Apr 18 2014

Your district could become a great figure-8 stair manufacturing center.

If you let your neighbour move his house onto your roof, you could share the heating bill, and the garden patch that opened up where his house once was. Even rural communities would have skyward-reaching living quarters in a world conforming to my obsessions. Rural sprawl would just be more organic, that's all. Put the occasional extra tree in the space saved. Put some of the money saved by the shorter cables into building a decent cricket pitch. (You'd have to bring in Indian immigrants to help you learn how to use it, but if the only other benefit they brought was briyani, that'd be worth it.)
-- skoomphemph, Apr 18 2014

//Figure of 8 Stairs// They have these in the Volterra building in Cambridge.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 18 2014

They had to have them somewhere, I suppose. Only figure-8 thing google took me to was a track - which is really the exact same thing in 2D if you go by what I would consider the main benefit to be.
-- skoomphemph, Apr 18 2014

If you ascend a spiral staircase at a constant angular speed there should be no dizziness incurred; only changes in angular moment exert dizz. Presumably the real issue here is in the corners.

My solution for marathons on stairs would be banked turns. Double helix of course.

Or in fact - why coil the stairs at all? Run them at the most gradual curvature possible, right around the circumference of the building.
-- mitxela, Apr 18 2014

Now that I have seen a few times, mostly in ancient buildings but also in some avanté-snob structures. The steps are always either too wide or too short. When I have to take two-and-a-half strides to ascend four inches while trying to follow directions that were not given in clear American, it's easier to spot the design flaw than the world-famous thingamabob of whatever that I probably came to see.
-- Alterother, Apr 18 2014

//Presumably the real issue here is in the corners. //

I'm not so sure about the corners being the real issue, but my basis is mainly empirical, and based on a small data set, so that's a guess. Considering the principles, I'm guessing that the impossibility of moving at constant velocity in a circle without accelerating might cause the dizziness, but all I really know for sure is that going in circles makes me dizzy.

I like the idea of the straight stairway. Of course my version would use it to link all the buildings in a block together at least at one point on each.

And when you got to the street canyon, your stair would bridge it, and continue its ascent on the other side. You could have lots of parallel stairs making multiple blocks into 3D living spaces suitable for a sci-fi future.
-- skoomphemph, Apr 18 2014

//Volterra building in Cambridge// So I throw that into Google. Nothing. Flat out nothing. So that leaves me wondering - is Mr. Buchanan fibbing to us, or is he exceeding spelling limitations, or do I have to turn off Safe Search to see it?
-- lurch, Apr 19 2014

//If you ascend a spiral staircase at a constant angular speed there should be no dizziness incurred; only changes in angular moment exert dizz.//

I think that's wrong. Balance is controlled in part by the semicircular canals of the ear, which contain a fluid. When you turn, the fluid stays still and exerts a drag on tiny hairs in the canals, which sense the drag and tell you that you're turning. But if you keep turning, the fluid starts to turn too, so that you lose the sensation of turning. Then, when you stop, the fluid continues to move and induces an illusory sense of turning in the opposite direction.

So, constant rotation will cause dizziness.

(Caveat - I have never completely believed that the fluid in the narrow canals takes so long to either start or stop moving. I suspect that neurological accommodation is a major factor, much as staring at a bright object will leave an after image of a dark object. But the same argument applies - it's the duration of the rotation, rather than the acceleration, that causes the dizziness.)
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 19 2014

//when you stop// i.e. change your angular momentum. When you start, too.
-- mitxela, Apr 19 2014

////when you stop// i.e. change your angular momentum. When you start, too.//

No, that's not quite right.

If you are standing still, and then turn your head (or whole body) to the left or right, there is no dizziness: your semicircular canals correctly sense the rotation, which tallies with what your eyes, proprioceptors etc are telling you.

It's only prolonged rotation that upsets things, because your semicircular canals stop sending the signal after a while, and therefore there's a mismatch between what you see and what your balance organ is telling you.

Then, when you stop rotating, your semicircular canals tell you that you're turning in the opposite direction, which again is a mismatch with what your eyes tell you.

In other words, it's not angular acceleration that causes the problem (that's what your balance system has evolved to deal with). It's prolonged rotation, followed by a stop.

If you want an example, turn your head left and right for thirty seconds, and you won't feel particularly dizzy. Now turn around on a swivel chair in the same direction for thirty seconds.
-- MaxwellBuchanan, Apr 19 2014

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