Location: Caracas, Venezuela
Client: British School
The British School in Caracas held an architecture competition with the task of connecting each existing building to an escape and circulation route while bridging a twelve-meter site condition. U-TT's solution reduced cost by designing a single interconnecting stairway and bridge that connects all buildings on their various levels. The new plan creates an easy and safe way for the school children to leave the buildings both in the case of an emergency and during everyday activity.
After the first prototype was built, we started rethinking the idea of modular stairs that can be mass-produced and installed in favelas. The resulting modular stair system is a repeatable, cost-effective upgrade for pedestrian infrastructure that also provides training in metal fabrication and creates work opportunities for slum dwellers.
The stairs are prefabricated and easily installed using a minimum of two foundation points. They are also built away from the surface of hill terrain, which is especially useful when these passageways become rivers during heavy seasonal rains. Even though the modular stairs are not yet available on an industrial scale, each example has been produced and assembled by individual groups of people, underscoring the advantage of having only four pieces (carrying tube, step, counter step, and handrail element). The stair is equally suited to one-off construction as it is to a factory production chain. We call this a building recipe: you get yourself a plan and use the resourcefulness of your community to get it done. The dimensions and structural calculations are part of the recipe, so installation follows easily.