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2019.09.3
Revitalising the CYT Staircase

There are numerous benefits to climbing staircase: it's much healthier, is a convenient form of exercise, can help produce endorphins for better mental health, and uses less electricity than taking the elevator. In fact, climbing an average of at least 8 flights of stairs a day reduces mortality rate by 33% [1]! Despite the clear benefits, certain staircases see much less use than nearby elevators or escalators, even when easily accessible - including the CYT outdoor staircase. 

What better way to change this than to make the staircase more visually attractive, all the while involving the HKUST community every step of the way? Not only does art have a number of proven health benefits [2], it can also increase the aesthetic appeal of the campus and make a staircase stand out. Hence, during the 2019 Spring semester, a project was started to breathe new life to HKUST's staircases.

The Make Your Mark! Staircase Design Competition was hosted from February to March, in order to draw out community ideas on what the staircase should look like. From the collection of numerous brilliant and creative entries, the judges selected 5 finalists. These finalists were then voted on by the HKUST community during an exhibition held in the corridor overlooking the staircase. Over 1000 votes were received, and the first place design "The Waterfall" by Sun Ting became the blueprint for the staircase painting.

Having chosen a design for the staircase, a community painting event was hosted during June, attracting 89 volunteers from staff, students and alumni to paint the staircase. The painting was guided by artist Terena Wong, and co-organised by Sustainability Unit, Center for the Arts and Center for Education Innovation. 

This project has successfully brought a bright patch of vibrancy and life to the CYT outdoor staircase. We would like to give special thanks to all our volunteer painters, competition entrants, and judges for their invaluable contribution to this project. 

The painted staircase also provided a good opportunity for Prof. Kevin Tam, with his expertise in environmental psychology, to conduct a research to understand how HKUST members evaluate the campus environment. In general, the participants considered the stair to be better than its previous appearance (for most dimensions, over 70% agreement) and they supported the idea of introducing artwork to stairs and the campus in general (over 80% agreement).

This project is a student initiative under the SCB-HKUST Sustainable Campus Leadership Program (Eco-Reps) in collaboration with the SmART Steps project, supported by the School of Humanities and Social Science and Center for the Arts.

 [1] https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/walking-your-steps-to-health

[2] https://www.parkwestgallery.com/art-and-health-the-benefits-of-viewing-art/

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