"SCULPTURE'S GIFT TO ARCHITECTURE
IS THE STAIRCASE" - ALEX DE RIJKE

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Dezeen and MINI World Tour: architect Alex de Rijke of dRMM talks to Dezeen about his practice's Escher-inspired installation of staircases in this movie filmed outside Tate Modern in London. 

"Sculpture's gift to architecture<br /> is the staircase" - Alex de Rijke
Alex de Rijke of dRMM

The Endless Stair installation, constructed on the bank of the River Thames as part of this years London Design Festival, comprises 15 interlocking staircases demonstrating a new cross-laminated timber material.

"Sculpture's gift to architecture<br /> is the staircase" - Alex de Rijke

"Endless Stair is a prototype," explains de Rijke, who is co-founder of architects de Rijke Marsh Morgan and dean of architecture at the Royal College of Art. "It's a research project into making a new material, or a new version of a material, namely a hard wood version of laminated timber, which is generally soft wood."

"Sculpture's gift to architecture<br /> is the staircase" - Alex de Rijke

dRMM chose to create an installation of stairs to demonstrate the material because of the sculptural quality of staircases, de Rijke says.

"Stairs are one of the nicest things about architecture," he explains. "Somebody once said sculpture's gift to architecture is the staircase."

"Sculpture's gift to architecture<br /> is the staircase" - Alex de Rijke

He continues: "My team were interested in Escher's endless stair as a conceptual conceit. We thought we would make a very simple version of Escher's sophisticated ideas."

"Sculpture's gift to architecture<br /> is the staircase" - Alex de Rijke

To recreate one of Escher's drawings in 3D would be impossible, and de Rijke admits that the installation is not literally endless.

"Endless Stair is obviously a real staircase with a real end," he says. "The idea of Endless Stair is that it can be endlessly reconfigured; it's something that can be recycled and reused. There are 15 flights in this example, and they can be reconfigured with more or less in many different contexts."

"Sculpture's gift to architecture<br /> is the staircase" - Alex de Rijke

De Rijke says that the sculpture is meant to be fun, but forms part of a serious research project.

"All useful architecture has its origins in some kind of experiment," he says. "We wanted to make a new material and we wanted to apply it and we did so with a kind of sculpture, but actually there's a serious intent behind it, which is the application at the scale of buildings and larger structures."

"Sculpture's gift to architecture<br /> is the staircase" - Alex de Rijke

We drove to Tate Modern in our MINI Cooper S Paceman. The music featured in the movie is a track called Temple by London band Dead Red Sun.

See all our Dezeen and MINI World Tour movies »
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"Sculpture's gift to architecture<br /> is the staircase" - Alex de Rijke

  • LM

    Why not just make it actually “endless” by bringing it back to the ground instead of an awkward dead end?

  • TD

    It would then be a literal proposal for sake of its title, which has no use value compared to “endless reconfiguration”, other than turning the work into a one-liner.

  • T,.T

    The first time I visited it was more like: ended stair with endless queue.

  • Nick

    Hasn’t the “staircase going nowhere thing” been done to death yet?