Endless Stair

The London Design Festival (LDF) is a world-renowned event that celebrates and promotes London as the design capital of the world and as the gateway to the international creative community. Our brief was to create a piece of architectural sculpture in collaboration with the American Hardwood Export Council.

We wanted to come up with an installation that would inspire the general public with the playful possibilities of outstanding architecture and push the unique properties of the materials that we were working with. Our solution, Endless Stair, took inspiration from the structural, social and artistic possibilities of the staircase, the aspect of architecture most closely associated with sculpture and a place where people inevitably cross paths. Devised with M.C. Esher’s popular drawings in mind, Endless Stair is not a stair without end, but a stair designed to be endlessly reconfigured: an entirely prefabricated construction, each piece an essential part of the additive structure, where loads are transferred through demountable flights that can be recycled on another site in a different configuration. Endless Stair also took inspiration from the wood from which it was constructed and, through collaboration with the sponsors, gave rise to an entirely new product using Tulip Tree wood as a cross-laminated timber (CLT) for the first time, with an extraordinary strength-to-weight ratio.

Endless Stair was deemed a huge success by the LDF, its sponsors and the many thousands of people who climbed its steps, and we are proud both of its impact on the cultural life of the Capital and what it says about dRMM’s commitment to innovation and sustainability in building design. We hope that, as it is reconfigured for other design festivals, starting with Milan 2014, it can present a fresh case study for engineered timber becoming the key construction material of the 21st century.

Photography © Jonas Lencer, Judith Stichtenoth, Thomas Etchells, Raphael Villiermet, Alex de Rijke