In the style of Herbet Baker’s design of 1926 and 1928, these magnificent staircases were added to Rhodes House at Oxford University in the UK. The new structural staircases in Portuguese limestone have given new life to the interior of the building.
The selection of Gascogne Blue limestone for the staircase was motivated by its structural integrity and its aesthetic alignment with the Rotunda’s pre-existing stone pavement. This choice allowed the staircase to incorporate the stone steps as load-bearing components rather than a mere surface cladding. Consequently, this design approach maintained the openness of the lower part of the Rotunda, eliminating the need for support columns.
An important aspect of the project was to ensure that the staircase remained permeable to light and views. The balustrade, inspired by the hexagonal patterns and modular design of the Rotunda pavement, features a meticulously perforated pattern. This design not only emphasises the visual delicacy of the stone, but also plays a functional role in filtering the light. Throughout the day, sunlight is filtered through the windows above, casting intricate and dynamic shadows on the Rotunda pavement, enriching the space with a dance of light and shadow. In addition, the integration of metal panels with inlaid lighting in the stone balustrade introduces a rhythmic visual element, further heightening the architectural harmony of the staircase.