Dezeen and MINI World Tour: Alex de Rijke, co-founder of dRMM and dean of architecture at the Royal College of Art, talks to Dezeen about his practice's Escher-inspired installation of staircases in this movie filmed outside Tate Modern in London.
dRMM's Endless Stair installation, situated 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.
"Endless stair is a prototype," de Rijke explains. "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."
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."
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."
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."
de Rijke says that the sculpture is meant to be fun, but forms part of a serious 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."
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.