The project takes inspiration from the compositional and social potential of staircases, and from the Tulip Tree; a light and strong ‘yellow Poplar’. Staircases are the part of architecture most closely associated with sculpture, where people experience space strongly, and meet. Tulipwood is a plentiful and sustainable American hardwood export, composed here for the first time as CLT (cross laminated timber). We thus jointly present a new product, cross-laminated hardwood, with an extraordinary strength to weight ratio, in the form of a reconfigurable sculpture.
The interlocking stair design is a three-dimensional exercise in composition, structure and scale. A prefabricated construction, each piece is an essential part of the additive structure, transferring load in unison like bricks in an arch. Unlike bricks, the modular timber assembly is a lightweight, fast and dry construction, easily demountable, and can be entirely recycled on another site. The name ‘Endless Stair’ refers not to the length or height but to the geometry; there are endless possibilities for reconfiguration.
Endless Stair is a look-out point, sited to provide an elevated view of the river Thames and the City from Tate Modern, something not otherwise possible to the pedestrian standing at the foot of the Tate chimney. The ambitious structure is both marker and meeting place near the Millenium Bridge. The Escher-like game of perception and circulation in framed timber playfully contrasts with the brick mass of the Tate building. From the top of the stair the religious and corporate environment of stone and glass can be seen over the river in the City.
Photography © Jonas Lencer, Judith Stichtenoth, Thomas Etchells, Raphael Villiermet, Alex de Rijke