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Saturday26 July 2014

Firm takes steps for wheelchairs

Matthew Lloyd's lift design for the Duke of York steps
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Matthew Lloyd Architects is working with the Corps of Royal Engineers to design temporary water- and solar-powered wheelchair lifts at the Duke of York steps in central London.

The zero-carbon lifts, which are part of next year’s London Festival of Architecture, will only be in place for two weeks because of the sensitive location of the steps, which lead from the Mall to Waterloo Place.

They will anchor the route from Regent’s Park to Lower Regent Street — nicknamed the Nash Ramblas — the brainchild of Terry Farrell and one of the main focal points for the festival.

The project, which also involves disability arts group Architecture-InsideOut and the RIBA, was made possible by the technical know-how of the soldiers, who devised the idea of a solar-powered water counterweight system.

The architect intends to make a feature of the water, which will cascade down the sides of the lifts.

Matthew Lloyd described the project as “deeply challenging”. He said: “It’s very ambitious but it will be an exciting thing to use. It will be fun and educational. If they work well they could be a prototype for cities. The challenge, because it’s an architecture festival, is getting all the technology into these beautiful little towers.”

Planning permission and funding of up to £50,000 need to be secured. The lifts will operate during the festival, from June 19 to July 4, and will then be found a permanent home.

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Readers' comments (10)

  • Ridiculous. Steps are either necessary or not. Installing them for two weeks in a 'sensitive location' is a joke, especially with the scheme pushing the greening movement. Also, its looks like a nightmare. Personally, I would not fancy rolling into a enclosed chamber with a ton of water above me. And why three lifts, not one with a bridge possibly? And why so ugly? Are these extermination chambers? At least they would be 'green' in that they reduce the population (which is the whole point of the environmental movement in the first place).

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  • agree with andrew. it looks hideous. smack in the middle of some beautiful steps. 1st year architecture students wouldn't have come up with something so rubbish. even if it was their first crit. and my first crit ever was proper rubbish.

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  • Re:steps I don't agree with the comments the reason for lifts at each phase is so that disabled people can enjoy the view at each stage like everyone else. One lift would not chieve this experience of space. It is a temporary installation to provide a choice for disabled people next year for the LFA route from Regents park. By its very nature it is not invalid!!!! it is a step in the right dircetion to encourage I would hope disabled centred debate and discourse about incusive design and yes architecture students can go away and design better installations but lets hope that means they may consider not using steps in the first place! It is easy to critise but only a genius puts a solution forward.

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  • Ruby, What is this view at each stage that you refer to? It seems like the high walls either side prohibit any such vista? Entering any lift is enough hassle, even without a wheelchair, never mind three in a row! Andrew

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  • What an astonishingly bad design response. Give me the £50k and I will personally guarantee that for the two week period in question, any wheelchair users are carried between these levels by a team of attractive and well muscled young people of multiple ethnicity. Unemployed architects will be considered, if they're attractive, strong and ethnic enough, and as long as they promise not to bore our customers by talking about architecture.

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  • Excellent idea Iain, Definately no straight white men to be allowed to partake in your solution. Andrew

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  • You are all missing the point entirely!! Disabled people don't want to be carried from a to b unless they chose to. The responses only highlight the unstructured and uninformed perspective. This is not just about this space but about a whole new perspective of how disabled users collaborate and inform design whether it is a flight of steps, a pedestrian street or a building. It is not about the 50k it is about not isolating, alienating or excluding disabled users from events, a historic site, a park, an office, a conference, a bus, tube, tram train or a shopping mall

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  • Apologies if I gave the impression of any exclusions for my alternative proposal. All are welcome to apply. Another solution would be to spend the £50k on a decent 4x4 with a wheelchair lift. Stick a sign at the top and bottom of the stairs with the drivers' mobile. Job done, and you don't even have to pay me anything. At the end of the 2 weeks donate the vehicle to a worthy charity. My point? Sometimes architects forget that that the solution isn't necessary a building. I now await Ruby's criticisms about carbon emmissions.

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  • How about engaging in a constructive discussion? The general tone of pessimism and offensive 'humor' in these comments is exhausting! (not you Ruby) I look forward to seeing how this challenge is resolved by the design team!! Iain, your shameful 'jokes' show how valuable this project could be in altering designers' perception of architecture and the differently-abled.

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  • Andrew i think it is fair to say that stairs are a necessity, however they aren't overly easy to negotiate in a wheelchair hence the requirement for a temporary solution ie a lift. Also, i will admit that i am not an authority in green engineering and the environmental movement but i think its safe to say the main aim is to reduce the impact that the human population has on the planet and not to reduce the population. This, at a guess, would be done through enforced birth control, genocide and war, all of which are against the ideals of your mainstream tree hugger, sorry i mean environmentalist. I would be interested in any sensible ideas that may be put forward by any of the negative comentees as i guess that you are architects and not engineers, therefore you are probably more interested in aesthetics and whether they are symmetrical, without any clue about the details and practicalities of lift design never mind the regulations involved. Im pretty sure that you could always have a go at designing a carbon neutral lift that doesn't require an external power supply that is not a permanent structure but still meets all the relevent regulations. I eagerly await a response, hopefully it will be an intelligent?

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