Nicoll, G. (2007). Spatial Measures Associated with Stair Use. American Journal of Health Promotion, 21(4S), 346-352.
Purpose: Although stair use in workplaces can provide an accessible means of integrating physical activity into work routines, there is little information available on how building design influences stair use.
Design: This cross-sectional study assessed the relationship between stair use and the design and location of stairs.
Setting: Ten three- or four-story academic buildings on two university campuses.
Sample: The buildings contained a total of 38 stairs and 12 elevators.
Measures: Stair use was measured using infrared monitors. Eighteen environmental variables that operationalized the appeal, convenience, comfort, legibility, and safety of stairs were measured.
Results: Regression analysis identified eight spatial variables associated with stair use: travel distances from stair to nearest entrance and the elevator, effective area or occupant load of each stair, accessibility of each stair, area of stair isovist (a graphic representation of the horizontal extent of a person’s visual field from a specific point of reference within a building floor plan), number of turns required for travel from the stair to closest entrance, and the most integrated path (MIP). Three variables (effective area, area of stair isovist, and number of turns for travel from the MIP), explained 53% of stair use in the 10 buildings. Most variables operationalizing the appeal, comfort, and safety of stairs were not statistically influential.
Conclusions: This study suggests that the spatial qualities that optimize the convenience and legibility of stairs may have the most influence on stair use in buildings.