Combining Practical and Eye-Catching Stair Designs


Modern office design covers a range of styles that trend and then merge back into the mixing pot of interior ideas. The open office was popular with the typing pools of the ‘50s and ‘60s; along with computers came the office cubicle, individual office rooms allowed time to concentrate but then collaboration and creativity meant that open plan offices re-emerged. Now all of these ideas are mixed and matched to provide a company with the optimal working environment. Added into the creative world of interior design is the competition to make offices memorable, motivational and multi-functional. But the wilder imagination for design has to comply with the practicality of New Zealand’s building code and fire safety standards.

Safety First

Access to the different floors of an office cannot be overlooked when factoring in both aesthetic appearance and building safety. Building Code clause D1.3.3 states that buildings must include ‘stairs to allow access to upper floors irrespective of whether an escalator or lift has been provided’.

Primarily, stairs provide safe access for office staff and visitors, meaning they need to be designed for heavy foot traffic during work hours and safe passage during an emergency evacuation. At the design stage, the first consideration is the location – are they in a prominent and logical position that is easily identifiable? Most buildings are constructed with a stairwell, so the location of the staircase is predetermined. The second consideration is the ease of use, which concerns the consistency of the stair design to avoid trips and falls. The designer considers the pitch of the stairs, the size and uniformity of treads and risers and the height and robustness of the handrails.


Innovative Staircase Designs for Your Office

Conventional methods of making sure the stairs are easily identifiable normally require higher levels of lighting and clear signage. Although these factors are required to comply with regulations, attracting attention to the stairway gives the opportunity for more imaginative and smart stair designs.

Commonly, the stairway is either a straight flight, L or U shaped. These stairs can be designed to be wider, or the area of half-landings increased to allow seating for impromptu meetings and work huddles for creativity and collaboration. The straight staircase can be free-standing to allow greater flexibility in location, and can become the centre piece. Other designs that increase aesthetic appeal include the spiral staircase, which is usually constructed around a central pole, curved staircases that allow a soft curve of the flight to add elegance, and winder stairs that have triangular treads at the stair turn of an L or U flight instead of a half landing.

Other design considerations that make the stairway stand out and comply with New Zealand building codes include:

  • Installing higher levels of lighting, which normally means overhead lighting but can be installed in the risers or handrails
  • Laying different floor finishes and colours on the approach to the stairwell and on the staircase
  • Finish the handrail so it contrasts with the stair and wall colouring
  • Have the nosing and tread colours contrast


Ackworth House: Creating Beautifully Functional Stairs

Ackworth House has created stunning staircases for more than four decades. We have a team who are experienced and skilled and who design and manufacture custom staircases for all types of residential and commercial properties. We combine technological innovations with best practices to create stairs that are beautiful and functional.

We offer a wide selection of building materials; you can choose from our range of designs and have your pick customised to suit your preference.

Find out more about our staircase designs. Get in touch with our team for a consultation or a quote. Call us on 0800 225 967 or send an email to for your enquiries.