Stair Rover by Po-Chih Lai
at Show RCA 2012


Royal College of Art graduate Po-Chih Lai has designed a skateboard that can go down stairs (+ movie).

Stair Rover by Po-Chih Lai at Show RCA 2012

The Stair Rover takes the traditional skateboard design and adds an extra wheel to each corner.

Stair Rover by Po-Chih Lai at Show RCA 2012

The flexible chassis bends and glides over uneven surfaces and keeps the board steady even as it slides down stairs.

Stair Rover by Po-Chih Lai at Show RCA 2012

The movie is by Juriaan Booij.

Stair Rover by Po-Chih Lai at Show RCA 2012

Po-Chih Lai graduated from the college's Design Products course and the skateboard is on display at Show RCA 2012, which continues until 1 July.

Stair Rover by Po-Chih Lai at Show RCA 2012

We recently published a movie of Design Products course leader Tord Boontje giving a tour of the show - see it here.

Here's some more information from the designer:

Stair Rover
Stairboard, 2012
Designer : Po-Chih Lai
Material : aluminum, maple, bamboo, PU rubber, PVC

Inspiring action
The piece aims to expanding the capability and possibility of extreme sports as we understand them.  Inherited from our natural instincts, sliding as children and snowboarding as adults, the focus is on one of the most influential and stimulating sports – skateboading, aiming to push the boundaries further. The piece creates a groundbreaking form of sport which previously never existed and utilises the hidden energy of our cities – stairs.  STAIR ROVER – the Stairboard is a product that relies on the other product – stairs, which are found easily within the human habitat, especially in cities. This is an outstanding performance reflecting where we as residents live and what we love.

Inspiring values
Extreme sports are hugely various and engages many people to be involved.  Indeed, extreme sports are one if the latest crazes in our culture with kids as young as four and five years old fascinated by it. This is an innate behaviour from the deepest recesses of ourselves, keen to challenge ourselves and look for the edge of what we are capable of.  It is an activity highly reliant on the balance of danger, control and excitement. There are very few sports which can compete with skateboarding which can boast so many people having experienced them so enthusiastically in this generation.

Creating a legacy
No city is so fascinating and encouraging as London.  Few can outline the metropolitan diversity so perfectly as this place. The Barbican Centre presents its Urban Stories, indicating that the sub-culture of graffiti, free-running, skateboarding, street dance, and extreme sports are now accepted and a valid and valuable influence on our generation.  London is my inspiration.  It leads me to craft a new hybrid sport around the classic  skateboard and novel stair climbing mechanism. The project aims to create a new experience for users to rove along the landscape of the city. This advanced boarding activity turns boundaries and restrictions into a positive and creative physical enquiry into the ever changing kinesis of the urban ecosystem.

The novelty of this project is creating the possibility on a board of playing at a more stimulating place – stairs. It is the exciting moment for a skater to breakthrough his/her fear and to experience a new kind of excitement with a new resource. We can see how popular it will be via the experiences in our own. Almost everyone has an experience of slide down stair, playing slide in playground, or jumping on a roller coaster. After invented 100 years ago, they are still the most popular equipment.
Via the mechanism of combing climbing wheels, decks in the “Critical Space”, skaters will experience a new surfing joy and excitement. It increases the function of normal skateboards and extends the boundary of the city playground. You can slide down from 8F to GF in RCA non-stopped and keep on going to everywhere. It has its boundless possibility and imagination on transportation, sports, or automatic control fields.

  • Bassel

    I like the concept, yet the board seems too low to go down steeper stairs with higher treads than the ones in this footage.

  • Bawss

    nice artsy video, but what, 10 seconds of it going down stairs

  • Chris

    that's how you present a product, that is not really working….

  • wpgmb

    ….I’ll just use the handrail, thanks. Less complicated.

  • trent

    Nice shots of Iconic London, but I must have blinked when the board was shown actually doing what it was designed for!

  • LOW

    The video could have used a bit more shots of the skateboard actually going down a complete flight of stairs, but I still think it's very snazzy

  • mksh

    The scenery and cinematography of the movie is excellent. The emptiness, the suspense of postponing the moment where product is actually seen in action gives a perfect framing for the product to show itself.

    But with all this attention to detail, it is a shame the skater is allowed to look slightly uncomfortable with the product, especially in the last shot.

  • sanslartigue

    It’s more about the video than the board!

  • jasond

    Whereabouts was the filmed? What building/area is that?

    • Locations seem to include Poplar DLR Station, Barbican, South Bank Centre… can anyone spot any more?

      Marcus, Dezeen

      • Tommi

        + Greenwich Foot Tunnel

      • dextersdragon

        Royal National Theatre more specifically than South Bank Centre.

  • Anon

     "Inherited from our natural instincts, sliding as children and snowboarding as adults, the focus is on one of the most influential and stimulating sports – skateboading, aiming to push the boundaries further."

    This product does exactly the opposite of this aim – you are able to ride stairs at the expense of the movements and physics that are the basis for all ceativity in skateboarding – the Ollie.

    Jumping down stairs creates much more possibility for creativity than riding down in a constrained way on a long board. That is one of the main points of skating' reinterpreting and misusing architecture and the environment. I presume this designer is a non-skateboarder, as it's typical of a pointless design response by someone that doesn't understand the culture. If he said that it was a design to enable muppets on longboards to ride downstairs, it would have been amazingly successful for me.

    Not sure how you can be more creative than this (and he rides down stairs).

    • You dislike this skateboard because it inhibits your ability to express yourself? Try poetry or ballet or even philosophy. There are ZERO wheels there.

      I fundamentally reject your assumption that when I skate I am expressing myself. If I am, what am I expressing exactly? The scientific laws of physics and biology? Please. There is no external dialogue happening.

      I would argue that these skate-delusions of grandeur are the very basis of the subversive, contrarian, punk nature of ‘skate culture’. Yes, these are great states of mind to be in when a teen is striving to become an individual. What needs to be understood however, is that this is only one part of a larger mental process. You seem to be trying to hold back progress just because you do not immediately see it’s opportunities.

      “Old dog/New tricks” comes to mind…

  • Vitordd

    stop being such a pussy and put your weight on the back foot

  • sk8

    This is a pointless design. Everybody who ever skated or is skating knows it. The author should try it too it would be very helpful for him.

  • GOD

    Surely this wheel design would be more useful on something like a pram rather than a skateboard. battleship potemkin style aiiiiiiii

  • rich

    I thought this invention kinda useless when I saw it posted earlier…. and I’m not a skateboarder…. but the ones I’ve seen enjoy taking the stairs….. inline skaters also.

  • I love it, but I don´t know why he put the board so low you can step on the mechanism.
    If it is to make it a bit simpler I dont get it because it is already complex so a bit more would give much more functionality

  • Thom

    This board would surely ground on the top step, the clearance is so small. I notice the video never shows the skater actually starting down the stairs. Story goes, get to steps… stop… get off… measure stair for suitability… walk down a few steps… awkwardly try and get on a sloping deck… … Hardly freedom of expression or " expanding the capability and possibility…'

    Agree with Vitordd, just learn to skate

  • Mark

    Ollies and rail slides do the job more efficiently!