Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Skate Break: Final Thoughts

By Ryan Northcutt
            As the end of the semester nears, we are all in scramble to finish up any work. To say the least it’s getting crazy. But it’s important to keep pushing and stay positive and just work. But time to talk about something more interesting.
            As a final thought, I would like to talk about egress stairs. These fire rated monsters that fill up space that we wish we had are pretty annoying, but we need them. We think of these stairs as something solid and static. But the code really only limits so many aspects of them. There have been many breakthrough in technology that allows new features, but for the most part, cost comes into play which really drives us to have those solid concrete towers with efficiently laid out stairs. Louis Kahn once argued that these sorts of stairs are a waste of space, for they aren’t really all that useful. The question becomes how does this fire rated beasts become habitable space, and more importantly interesting. Well for starts, shapes of stairs and landings are a start to creating an architectural innovative egress circulation pattern. Louis Kahn made the argument that these stairs, which are merely boring should involve interaction spaces. Spaces for actions to happen within landings, allowing for conversations, resting points, or personal spaces. His description of these stairs is about a boy reading books off the shelf, in the stairwell. Its an odd thought and we might think, who wants to hang out in the stairwell. Its almost like eating next to the restroom or trashcan, nobody wants to be there but sometimes we have too. Well nobody really wants to be in the stairs, as they may be cramped and stuffy and cold and boring. It’s now about how do we change the typology of egress stairs and make them spaces that are used for circulation in emergencies, as well as a place to hang out. In many ways its almost genius. Its similar to a water cooler space, which is not intended to be a gather place, but that is just what happens. Why is that so? Well it all boils down to resources, but also proxemics, which drive a lot of spaces to becoming places of social interaction. This is an important part of architecture, and it is a heavy topic to think about, especially when we start talking about circulation and efficiency. Like any problem, there is a solution, and as creative thinkers we are adapt to creating solutions. Needless to say, we need to think about egress stairs and their typology.

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