The backbone of a whale may sound like a strange place to draw inspiration, but nature often features forms that have evolved well to fit certain purposes (or porpoises, if you’ll pardon the wordplay).
Andrew McConnell conceived of this system as a modular set of components that can be deployed in a spiral, each element supporting the next – the only variation would occur in the top and bottom pieces that connect to landings.
And while the pieces may look (and be, for that matter) three-dimensionally complex, this is the age of 3D printing, and creating something repetitive of this kind could also be done using molds.
From the designer: “Inspired by the spine of a whale, the Vertebrae Staircase 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. These interlocking vertebrae provide a rigid structure for the steps, railing and its users. And the railing is reinforced by connections that help the staircase resist rotational forces caused by the cantilevered steps.”