A new workspace in the UK has a staircase that does more than just get people from one level to another. Designed to make more use of what would be minimally utilized space, the Living Staircase at Ampersand's offices in London features rows of planting boxes above the handrails, spaces for relaxation or meetings, a tea bar and a library.

The Living Staircase is not the first to be adapted for multifunctionality. We've previously featured an old Unicraft Joinery staircase doubles as storage, for example, while architects Moon Hoon incorporated a cinema, library and playroom into one of its staircase designs. Unlike those examples, however, the staircase at Ampersand is designed for a business environment.

Designed by Paul Cocksedge Studio in partnership with Arup, the Living Staircase is 12.5 m (41 ft) high and connects Ampersand's four office floors. The load-bearing pillar from the center of a traditional spiral staircase has been removed in favor of spiraling FSC-compliant American white oak timber and steel.

The sculptural design has a sense of dynamism about it. In addition to layered white oak, grey and green colors, the staircase spiral and seating spaces alternate in width. This creates an undulating rhythm up the height of the design.

There is a circular seating space with a wooden bench around its perimeter at each floor of the staircase and building. They branch off at the center of the staircase and provide building users with spaces for relaxation, creative thinking and workplace interaction.

There is planting along the entire balustrade of the staircase, providing aesthetic and wellbeing benefits. Among the plants featured are Sanseveria Mikados, Anthuriums in white, Orchids, Aglo Freeman, Aglo silver queen, Kentia (Howea Fosterina) and mint.

The first level of the staircase features a Zettel'z 6 light designed by Ingo Maurer, which allows workers to creates drawings or write messages and attach them to the light for others to see. The second staircase level, meanwhile, houses a library of books aimed at encouraging creative thought. Finally, on the top level of the staircase there is facility for making tea, with hot water and planted herbal plants (such as the mint).

"If a staircase is essentially about going from A to B, there is now a whole world living and breathing in the space between the two," explains Paul Cocksedge. "I hope the Living Staircase will be used in ways we hadn't at all expected. This is the beauty of it: it allows so much space for all kinds of activities."

The Ampersand building was completed in May and provides 64,000 sq ft (5,950 sq m) of office space in London's Soho district and also features a roof terrace.

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