Ramps can sometimes present challenges for designers and architects. They are useful (and sometimes required by law) for strollers, wheelchairs and any device with wheels for that matter. Aesthetically, they can sometimes be cumbersome and out of place with the rest of the design. In the gallery below we explore a series of ramps that have been beautifully blended into sets of stairs.
Some of you may wonder about these designs not being ‘to code’ as handrails are not present. Unfortunately I am not well versed in building standards and codes, especially since they vary from country to country. If you are familiar with codes and regulations, we’d love your opinions in the comments! I did take a quick peek at the U.S Department of Justice’s 2010 ADA Standards for Accessible Design and found the following in terms of regulations as it pertains to handrails in the United States:
Advisory 505.1 General: Handrails are required on ramp runs with a rise greater than 6 inches (150 mm) (see 405.8) and on certain stairways (see 504). Handrails are not required on walking surfaces with running slopes less than 1:20. However, handrails are required to comply with 505 when they are provided on walking surfaces with running slopes less than 1:20 (see 403.6). Sections 505.2, 505.3, and 505.10 do not apply to handrails provided on walking surfaces with running slopes less than 1:20 as these sections only reference requirements for ramps and stairs.
405.8 Handrails: Ramp runs with a rise greater than 6 inches (150 mm) shall have handrails complying with 505.
Advisory 210.1 General: Although these requirements do not mandate handrails on stairs that are not part of a means of egress, State or local building codes may require handrails or guards.
Advisory 105.2.4 ICC/IBC: International Building Code (IBC)-2000 (including 2001 Supplement to the International Codes) and IBC-2003 are referenced for means of egress, areas of refuge, and railings provided on fishing piers and platforms. At least one accessible means of egress is required for every accessible space and at least two accessible means of egress are required where more than one means of egress is required. The technical criteria for accessible means of egress allow the use of exit stairways and evacuation elevators when provided in conjunction with horizontal exits or areas of refuge. While typical elevators are not designed to be used during an emergency evacuation, evacuation elevators are designed with standby power and other features according to the elevator safety standard and can be used for the evacuation of individuals with disabilities. The IBC also provides requirements for areas of refuge, which are fire-rated spaces on levels above or below the exit discharge levels where people unable to use stairs can go to register a call for assistance and wait for evacuation.
Accessible Means of Egress: A continuous and unobstructed way of egress travel from any point in a building or facility that provides an accessible route to an area of refuge, a horizontal exit, or a public way.
Robson Square – Vancouver, Canada
Robson Square is a landmark civic centre and public plaza of modernist concrete, located in Downtown Vancouver, British Columbia. It is the site of the Provincial Law Courts, UBC Robson Square, government office buildings, and public space connecting the newer development to the Vancouver Art Gallery. It was designed by architectural firm, Arthur Erickson. [Source]
Pioneer Courthouse Square – Portland, U.S.A.
Pioneer Courthouse Square, affectionately known as Portland’s living room, is a public space occupying a full 40,000 ft² (3700 m²) city block in the center of downtown Portland, Oregon, United States. The square is bounded by Southwest Morrison Street on the north, Southwest 6th Avenue on the east, Southwest Yamhill Street on the south, and Southwest Broadway on the west. The square is named after the Pioneer Courthouse, an 1875 federal building occupying the block directly east of the square. [Source]
Aachen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
In the Southern part of Aachen downtown, halfway between central station and the cathedral, the AachenMünchener Versicherung AG head office was completed in July 2010. The design by kadawittfeldarchitektur, intelligently embedded into the already existing urban context, adds a line of four generously glazed new buildings of various sizes to the already existing skyscraper from the 1970s also owned by the corporation. [Source]
Illinois Institute of Technology – Chicago, U.S.A
The McCormick Tribune Campus Center opened September 30, 2003. It was the first building designed by architect Rem Koolhaas within the United States. It is a single-story 110,000-square-foot (10,000 m2) building. Design of the building began in 1997 during an international architectural design competition hosted by the school. Finalists included Peter Eisenman, Helmut Jahn, Zaha Hadid, Kazuyo Sejima, and the winner, Rem Koolhaas. He worked with Chicago architecture firm Holabird & Root, especially on structural engineering issues. [Source]
Stair Ramp Combination – Santiago, Chile
Public Park in Tjuvholmen – Oslo, Norway
Tjuvholmen is a neighborhood in the borough Frogner in Oslo, Norway. It is located on a peninsula sticking out from Aker Brygge into the Oslofjord. It is located east of Filipstad and south of Vika. Since 1982, the area has been used for office space, terminals and warehouses. The Norwegian National Academy of Ballet was located there. Since 2005, the area has been sold to private developers, who are conducting an urban renewal with housing. The area will have about 1,200 apartments by 2012. It is part of the Fjord City urban renewal program. [Source]
Blackfriars Road – London, England
Blackfriars Road is a road in Southwark, SE1. It runs between St George’s Circus at the southern end and Blackfriars Bridge over the River Thames at the northern end, leading to the City of London. Halfway up on the west side is Southwark tube station, on the corner with The Cut. Opposite is Palestra, a large new office building which holds the headquarters of the London Development Agency and the Surface transport division of TfL. The road forms part of the A201. The road adjoins Stamford Street and Southwark Street at the northern end. Originally known as Surrey Street, the road was built in the 1760s as the south approach to Blackfriars Bridge, and was laid out by the bridge surveyor, Robert Mylne. [Source]
Ramp Stairs – The Netherlands
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