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Jess Swanson, Senior Editor
Jess Swanson, Senior Editor
Jan 2021

While folks are resolving to up their daily step count this month, Sahin Baran offers another reason to huff it up the stairs: their aesthetic beauty. For almost six years, the 32-year-old has run the popular Instagram account @WorldNeedsMoreSpiralStaircases, posting crowdsourced photos of spiral staircases around the world. “I can’t thank the architects enough for gifting us with spiral staircases,” says Baran, who lives in Turkey. “They have a hypnotizing effect on people.”

The Rookery, Chicago / Credit: @ericbooc

Baran credits their allure to the golden ratio, which was used by Leonardo da Vinci as a mathematical illustration of asymmetry and found in appealing artworks, architecture and even human faces. “Spiral staircases, especially the older ones, use the golden ratio,” he explains. “The Last Supper is spectacular, and spiral staircases definitely have this magical quality, too.”

Bramante Staircase, Vatican Museums / Credit: @insta_lucash

The double-helix Bramante Staircase at the Vatican Museums in Italy and the wrought-iron white-and-blue Tulip Stairs at the Queen’s House in London are Baran’s favorites. He hopes to one day visit the staircases at Chicago’s Rookery building and San Francisco’s Mechanics’ Institute. “I’m becoming addicted to these lovely pictures,” Baran says. “Considering that the account has reached 84,000 people, maybe we’re all spiral-staircase addicts?”

Elevators have endangered the spiral staircases of centuries past. “Instead of renovating old staircases, developers built elevators,” he says. “We need those, too. But people, especially in this century, need beauty in their lives.”

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