Location – Bristol
Staircase & joinery design – Future Joinery Systems Ltd
Architect – CaSA Architects
Structural engineer – Mann Williams
Digital fabrication – FabLab Cardiff, Cardiff Metropolitan University's School of Art & Design
Joinery – Silverthorne Joinery & Carpentry
Wood supplier – Hanson Plywood Limited
Species – ash, birch
“This is a very beautiful and impressive stair. In addition, it was used to pioneer an approach to the use of BIM in joinery manufacture that is the recipient of ongoing government grants.”
The Brockeridge Stair is a thing of beauty. Stretching across three storeys, it is cantilevered from flush-mounted stringers in solid planned ash and ash-veneered birch core plywood. Given the warmth and vitality of its wooden construction, it may come as a surprise that the staircase is, in fact, parametrically designed.
The staircase is a prototype developed by Future Joinery Systems Ltd as part of a UK government-funded R&D scheme aimed at developing digital fabrication directly from Building Information Modelling (BIM) software. As such, the Brockeridge Stair exemplifies “push-button manufacturing”, a process whereby designs are parametrically defined and executed – in this case using CNC milling – at the push of a few buttons. Onsite, the stairs’ elements were assembled using standard tools.
As a prototype, the Brockeridge Stair opens up new opportunities through its production process. Because an object’s parameters – from height and width to material thickness – can be exactly defined, it allows for rapid making to very specific requirements, reducing errors and material waste. The process can also be plugged into a distributed manufacturing network model open to any CNC-enabled workshop, making the fabrication fast and extremely efficient.
The judges were impressed by the elegance with which the Brockeridge Stair’s groundbreaking digital fabrication process was executed. “Looked at from below, it is almost like an Escher drawing,” said judge Ruth Slavid. “It also forms the totally appropriate heart of a thorough-going and very successful refurbishment (for this, read ‘transformation’) of a tired infill house.”