Building Centre - Staircase

Building Centre - Staircase

United Kingdom, 2020

The Building Centre was founded in 1932 by Frank Yerbury as a place to celebrate the built environment. The Building Centre showcases innovation in architecture, engineering and construction through exhibitions and an extensive product library. In 2015 Roz Barr Architects were appointed to re-imagine the Building Centre and have been involved in the process of refurbishing this famous building on Store Street in central London.

Part of this works was to design a new gallery for showcasing innovation in the Built Environment. The redesign of a new gallery in the central public space of the building included a new staircase which will be the centre point of these new works. The idea for the Cork stair was borne out of using a building material that symbolised a sustainable and innovative approach that could be used in an inventive way to demonstrate its attributes. Roz Barr was interested in the use of solid Cork blocks. She knew of its attributes as being truly Carbon Neutral but also a material underused in the UK as a building material. It is also wonderfully tactile. She approached Amorim in Porto, Portugal who arranged to meet and discuss the Cork blocks they manufacture to make many manufacturing components.

Working in collaboration with engineer Steve Webb of Webb Yates we worked through ideas of how this standard block with is 900mmx 700mmx 200mm could be used to create this self-supporting staircase. Webb’s engineering allowed for the sections to be glued and pegged using timber dowels and the intersecting treads as part of the Barr’s design concept would ensure there was little waste from a standard block. Roz Barr use of maquettes to test the ideas proved a success in also showing the concept to Amorim and the Built Environment Trust.

We were honoured to have worked with Amorim to realise this project and as the centre piece for the Built Environment Trust. Amorim supplied and sponsored the staircase with the Built Environment Trust. Roz Barr Architects, Webb Yates and TinTab were responsible for the design, engineering, and installation of this staircase.

Photographs: Thomas Adank