The buildings that make up our cities are waypoints as much as destinations, and objects as much as infrastructure. Ramps, steps, columns and facades mean different things in the way they are approached. A colonnade becomes a place to meet, a leaning post, a shelter from the wind and rain. The concealed wall becomes a canvas for illicit artwork. The modernist building, raised off the ground, creates an undercroft that becomes a skatepark.
Our understanding of the city is constantly changing, a product of how we experience it; how we move through it. A seat on the stair, a rendezvous beneath a colonnade, the railing an impromptu bike rack. As architects, we must consider this experience as we plan and design each building. Arrival, transition, departure; all equal in weight and part of how a building is understood.
The approach, entry, and circulation of a building has changed significantly over time. We used to build imposing civic edifices with wide, grand staircases taking us up to a principal floor level significantly above ground. Now we operate differently, thinking of everyone equally, where the grand external staircase is rightly understood to be an exclusive and outdated approach. In a progressive society, the ramp becomes more powerful than the grand staircase, democratising the entrance to a building so that it makes no distinction.
Having reached the building an architect’s work is not done, however perfectly executed the ‘key move’ might be, if the bathroom is badly designed or the ironmongery is counterintuitive then that becomes the resonating memory of a visitor’s experience. This experience is within our control, from the first impression – met by stair or ramp, obstacle or aid – to the taps in the WC. What we present to the world can leave a lasting impression, so we always strive to perfect right down to the very last detail.
Around the feet of all architecture pass the inhabitants of the city - running, cycling, skating, walking, rolling, driving to and from, in and out, from doorway to destination. As they become embedded within the city, moments continue to pass and new relationships blossom, it is for every one of these people we create architecture for.