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The Endless Stair


The Endless Stair
By Caterina Testa -

“Together let us desire, conceive, and create the new structure of the future, which will embrace architecture and sculpture and painting in one unity and which will one day rise toward heaven from the hands of a million workers…”

The words of Gropius, written for the Weimar Bauhaus Manifesto back in 1919, sum up the complexity behind the concept, planning and building of the Endless Stair, a temporary installation that recently stood before London’s Tate Modern during the London Design Festival.
The idea sprung from the collaboration between the London Design Festival and the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC). The aim was to experiment manufacturing cross-laminated panels, an industrial timber with excellent mechanical strength properties, using American tulipwood, an abundant hardwood.
The Endless Stair project was the result of a close weave of specialists: promoters, architects, engineers, suppliers and carpenters. dRMM Architects and Arup Engineers looked after the architectural and structural projects. The Italian company Imola Legno manufactured the cross-laminated panels, while the Swiss firm Nüssli assembled the elements that were subsequently mounted on site.
As well as experimenting a manufacturing technology on hardwood, the project also sought to achieve full sustainability at every phase of the operation, with each player contributing in its particular sphere of activity. AHEC oversaw the sustainability of the whole product life cycle, from material sourcing and transportation to assembly. dRMM ensured the stair design produced minimum material wastage.
Much more than just an unusual wood sculpture, the Endless Stair is a meticulously designed, flexible object adaptable to any site and able to relate and resonate with any setting - in this case, the Thames and Tate Modern.
dRMM’s Alex de Rijke points out that an Escher-type stair was chosen on account of the infinite visual...

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