Towner Gallery Staircase

Architect: Rick Mather Architects
Location: Eastbourne, UK
Completion: 2009

Forming part of a brand new art gallery, this feature staircase is situated in the main entrance atrium and forms the primary public access to the main galleries. The architectural intent for the staircase was to have a floating, thin metal structure that sprung from the lobby to the upper levels.

No visible hanging points or props between floors were visually permitted, so, structurally, the solid steel balustrades were used to carry the primary loads and limited deflection and vibration in the staircase. The underside of the stair exposed the steel structure, so the joints needed to be carefully detailed to allow for sharp steel corners at the tread-riser junctions and also the interface with the stairs and supporting balustrade.

This unforgiving finish meant that consideration had to be given to the fabrication process as well as the permanent design. The extent of welding and grinding would lead to large amounts of heat being induced to the steel, which, if done without thought to the overall process and finish would have led to distortions and flaws in the finished steel.