Social Stairs

An interactive staircase transforming human behaviour

About the project

Project timespan: 10 weeks

"Social Stairs: a case study for experiential design landscapes" was published at the 5th IASDR World Conference on Design Research in Tokyo, Japan, 2013.

In february 2014, Social Stairs was installed at the headquarters of KPN telecom in The Hague, The Netherlands.

Social Stairs is a team effort with Bart Wolfs.


Products and systems are often designed with the intention that participants will change their behaviour, but this sometimes happens in quite unpredictable manners. Unexpected patterns may (and will) emerge that may, positively or negatively, influence the way society deals with such a new system.

Social Stairs is an intelligent staircase, inspired by the Fun Theory campaign of Volkswagen, which acts as an experiential prototype to map new emerging behavioral patterns. It creates various soundscapes as you walk up and down the staircase, but is also influenced by the way you walk it, either alone or with others. Different auditory scenario patches have been tested during this longer-term research study, to explore how people change their behaviours on or around the staircase over time. This installation was used as a research vehicle in a near-real-life situation to try and capture genuine motivations of people to express themselves physically in this public environment, and as such to map the opportunities to design for wellbeing.