A consideration of form and space: the modern staircase

A consideration of form and space: the modern staircase

Staircases are no longer purely functional objects that enable movement from upstairs to down or from inside to out. Whether the staircase is grand or compact, there is a huge range of materials, from warm wood to industrial metal, that allow for an almost-endless choice of design possibilities...

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

Staircases are no longer purely functional objects that enable movement from upstairs to down or from inside to out. Whether the staircase is grand or compact, there is a huge range of materials, from warm wood to industrial metal, that allow for an almost-endless choice of design possibilities.

Top Flyte Systems is a Tauranga-based company that has been in the New Zealand staircase design and manufacturing industry for decades. Thanks to their experience on a wide range of complex staircase designs, the team was chosen to work on the central staircase in the Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects-designed Tauranga Art Gallery, which won an NZIA Public Architecture Award.

The first thing to take into consideration when designing a staircase is to understand its intended function, says Quentin Beetham, the managing director at Top Flyte. Will it be a pure access route that needs to blend into the environment, or will it be a striking showpiece in the space?

The main room in the Tauranga Art Gallery by Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects. Image: Patrick Reynolds.
The main room in the Tauranga Art Gallery by Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects. Image: Patrick Reynolds.

In the Tauranga Art Gallery there are, in fact, two staircases – one sits on the wall line at the back of the room and is a purely functional stairwell. However, there’s no doubt that the central bespoke staircase has been designed as a prominent feature. Quentin explains, “As this staircase is one of the first things you see when entering the gallery, it needed to be quirky and different, but not consume or overtake the surrounding artworks.”

Design ideas around the form of the staircase centred around the ability to view the artworks from many different angles and positions, therefore increasing the display opportunities. With an extra-wide width and a large landing platform in the middle, visitors can stop to admire the art and rest their feet, without restricting any movement up or down.

The materials specified for the staircase were equally as important as its form. The treads are composed of Victorian ash, which has also been used in the handrails and as the flooring timber for the entire gallery. On the leading edge of the tread, dark jarrah timber was chosen both to clearly demarcate the edge of the step for safety, but also to create a striking design feature. Upstairs, a thick glass block floor is demarcated by the same Victorian ash flooring and handrails.

“Victorian ash was the perfect timber to use in the art gallery because its soft honey tones create a warm, welcoming environment that allows the art to shine. This timber is also extraordinarily hard wearing, which is important due to the high foot traffic expected in such a public space,” says Quentin.

The sculptural staircase provides plenty of options to view the artwork from different angles. Image: Patrick Reynolds.
The sculptural staircase provides plenty of options to view the artwork from different angles. Image: Patrick Reynolds.

Top Flyte was called in at a rather challenging time in the construction of the Tauranga Art Gallery staircase, after it was discovered that the frame the steel company had installed was not up to code. Quentin explains: “We helped them re-design the entire structure and then we took over the physical construction. It was a balancing act between achieving the look and feel of the architects’ original concept design and ensuring it actually complied to code.”

There was another trial with the glass panels that the balustrades are fixed to. Instead of using a bolted plate that can be adjusted, the glass was installed into a steel trench and epoxied in. With no room for any slight alterations, everything had to be precisely lined up to the millimetre. It was a trial for the glass company involved, says Quentin, with the final product being outstanding.

Thanks to the challenges involved, the art gallery’s feature staircase took around four months to complete, much longer than the company’s standard four to six weeks. As well as working on stairs for public spaces, Top Flyte also designs, manufactures and installs staircases that are suitable for a diverse range of situations – from external stairs connecting to a deck at a residential home to large exterior stairs that create part of a bush walk.

Quentin believes that people are becoming more fluid in their thinking with staircase design and are much more open to new, innovative designs. He is also seeing an increase in the specification of more commercial, industrial-looking staircases in homes, made from hard, tactile materials such as solid steel, glass or polished concrete – all materials that are very popular in architecture today.

“It can be challenging for us to put together a concept that sometimes homeowners can’t even properly illustrate on paper, but we love working closely with clients to achieve their individual vision. The staircase in Tauranga Art Gallery is the perfect example of a complex build where, despite the various issues with construction, the result is stunning. We are very proud of the staircase – it’s almost like a piece of artwork itself.”

Visit Top Flyte’s profile on ArchiPro to see the company’s range of products and discover how the team could help you create a special staircase for any setting.

Underside of the Top Flyte-designed and manufactured staircase at the Tauranga Art Gallery. Image: Patrick Reynolds.
Underside of the Top Flyte-designed and manufactured staircase at the Tauranga Art Gallery. Image: Patrick Reynolds.

Top Flyte Systems

When you deal with Top Flyte Systems, you can be comfortable in the knowledge that you’re dealing with skilled, experienced craftsmen, from the workshop floor to the...

Recommended reading
Done tagging
Full screen
A consideration of form and space: the modern staircase
A consideration of form and space: the modern staircase

A consideration of form and space: the modern staircase

Staircases are no longer purely functional objects that enable movement from upstairs to down or from inside to out. Whether the staircase is grand or compact, there is a huge range of materials, from warm wood to industrial metal, that allow for an almost-endless choice of design possibilities...

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

Staircases are no longer purely functional objects that enable movement from upstairs to down or from inside to out. Whether the staircase is grand or compact, there is a huge range of materials, from warm wood to industrial metal, that allow for an almost-endless choice of design possibilities.

Top Flyte Systems is a Tauranga-based company that has been in the New Zealand staircase design and manufacturing industry for decades. Thanks to their experience on a wide range of complex staircase designs, the team was chosen to work on the central staircase in the Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects-designed Tauranga Art Gallery, which won an NZIA Public Architecture Award.

The first thing to take into consideration when designing a staircase is to understand its intended function, says Quentin Beetham, the managing director at Top Flyte. Will it be a pure access route that needs to blend into the environment, or will it be a striking showpiece in the space?

The main room in the Tauranga Art Gallery by Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects. Image: Patrick Reynolds.
The main room in the Tauranga Art Gallery by Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects. Image: Patrick Reynolds.

In the Tauranga Art Gallery there are, in fact, two staircases – one sits on the wall line at the back of the room and is a purely functional stairwell. However, there’s no doubt that the central bespoke staircase has been designed as a prominent feature. Quentin explains, “As this staircase is one of the first things you see when entering the gallery, it needed to be quirky and different, but not consume or overtake the surrounding artworks.”

Design ideas around the form of the staircase centred around the ability to view the artworks from many different angles and positions, therefore increasing the display opportunities. With an extra-wide width and a large landing platform in the middle, visitors can stop to admire the art and rest their feet, without restricting any movement up or down.

The materials specified for the staircase were equally as important as its form. The treads are composed of Victorian ash, which has also been used in the handrails and as the flooring timber for the entire gallery. On the leading edge of the tread, dark jarrah timber was chosen both to clearly demarcate the edge of the step for safety, but also to create a striking design feature. Upstairs, a thick glass block floor is demarcated by the same Victorian ash flooring and handrails.

“Victorian ash was the perfect timber to use in the art gallery because its soft honey tones create a warm, welcoming environment that allows the art to shine. This timber is also extraordinarily hard wearing, which is important due to the high foot traffic expected in such a public space,” says Quentin.

The sculptural staircase provides plenty of options to view the artwork from different angles. Image: Patrick Reynolds.
The sculptural staircase provides plenty of options to view the artwork from different angles. Image: Patrick Reynolds.

Top Flyte was called in at a rather challenging time in the construction of the Tauranga Art Gallery staircase, after it was discovered that the frame the steel company had installed was not up to code. Quentin explains: “We helped them re-design the entire structure and then we took over the physical construction. It was a balancing act between achieving the look and feel of the architects’ original concept design and ensuring it actually complied to code.”

There was another trial with the glass panels that the balustrades are fixed to. Instead of using a bolted plate that can be adjusted, the glass was installed into a steel trench and epoxied in. With no room for any slight alterations, everything had to be precisely lined up to the millimetre. It was a trial for the glass company involved, says Quentin, with the final product being outstanding.

Thanks to the challenges involved, the art gallery’s feature staircase took around four months to complete, much longer than the company’s standard four to six weeks. As well as working on stairs for public spaces, Top Flyte also designs, manufactures and installs staircases that are suitable for a diverse range of situations – from external stairs connecting to a deck at a residential home to large exterior stairs that create part of a bush walk.

Quentin believes that people are becoming more fluid in their thinking with staircase design and are much more open to new, innovative designs. He is also seeing an increase in the specification of more commercial, industrial-looking staircases in homes, made from hard, tactile materials such as solid steel, glass or polished concrete – all materials that are very popular in architecture today.

“It can be challenging for us to put together a concept that sometimes homeowners can’t even properly illustrate on paper, but we love working closely with clients to achieve their individual vision. The staircase in Tauranga Art Gallery is the perfect example of a complex build where, despite the various issues with construction, the result is stunning. We are very proud of the staircase – it’s almost like a piece of artwork itself.”

Visit Top Flyte’s profile on ArchiPro to see the company’s range of products and discover how the team could help you create a special staircase for any setting.

Underside of the Top Flyte-designed and manufactured staircase at the Tauranga Art Gallery. Image: Patrick Reynolds.
Underside of the Top Flyte-designed and manufactured staircase at the Tauranga Art Gallery. Image: Patrick Reynolds.

Top Flyte Systems

When you deal with Top Flyte Systems, you can be comfortable in the knowledge that you’re dealing with skilled, experienced craftsmen, from the workshop floor to the...

Recommended reading
Done tagging
Full screen
A consideration of form and space: the modern staircase

A consideration of form and space: the modern staircase

Staircases are no longer purely functional objects that enable movement from upstairs to down or from inside to out. Whether the staircase is grand or compact, there is a huge range of materials, from warm wood to industrial metal, that allow for an almost-endless choice of design possibilities...

Words by ArchiPro Editorial Team

Staircases are no longer purely functional objects that enable movement from upstairs to down or from inside to out. Whether the staircase is grand or compact, there is a huge range of materials, from warm wood to industrial metal, that allow for an almost-endless choice of design possibilities.

Top Flyte Systems is a Tauranga-based company that has been in the New Zealand staircase design and manufacturing industry for decades. Thanks to their experience on a wide range of complex staircase designs, the team was chosen to work on the central staircase in the Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects-designed Tauranga Art Gallery, which won an NZIA Public Architecture Award.

The first thing to take into consideration when designing a staircase is to understand its intended function, says Quentin Beetham, the managing director at Top Flyte. Will it be a pure access route that needs to blend into the environment, or will it be a striking showpiece in the space?

The main room in the Tauranga Art Gallery by Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects. Image: Patrick Reynolds.
The main room in the Tauranga Art Gallery by Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects. Image: Patrick Reynolds.

In the Tauranga Art Gallery there are, in fact, two staircases – one sits on the wall line at the back of the room and is a purely functional stairwell. However, there’s no doubt that the central bespoke staircase has been designed as a prominent feature. Quentin explains, “As this staircase is one of the first things you see when entering the gallery, it needed to be quirky and different, but not consume or overtake the surrounding artworks.”

Design ideas around the form of the staircase centred around the ability to view the artworks from many different angles and positions, therefore increasing the display opportunities. With an extra-wide width and a large landing platform in the middle, visitors can stop to admire the art and rest their feet, without restricting any movement up or down.

The materials specified for the staircase were equally as important as its form. The treads are composed of Victorian ash, which has also been used in the handrails and as the flooring timber for the entire gallery. On the leading edge of the tread, dark jarrah timber was chosen both to clearly demarcate the edge of the step for safety, but also to create a striking design feature. Upstairs, a thick glass block floor is demarcated by the same Victorian ash flooring and handrails.

“Victorian ash was the perfect timber to use in the art gallery because its soft honey tones create a warm, welcoming environment that allows the art to shine. This timber is also extraordinarily hard wearing, which is important due to the high foot traffic expected in such a public space,” says Quentin.

The sculptural staircase provides plenty of options to view the artwork from different angles. Image: Patrick Reynolds.
The sculptural staircase provides plenty of options to view the artwork from different angles. Image: Patrick Reynolds.

Top Flyte was called in at a rather challenging time in the construction of the Tauranga Art Gallery staircase, after it was discovered that the frame the steel company had installed was not up to code. Quentin explains: “We helped them re-design the entire structure and then we took over the physical construction. It was a balancing act between achieving the look and feel of the architects’ original concept design and ensuring it actually complied to code.”

There was another trial with the glass panels that the balustrades are fixed to. Instead of using a bolted plate that can be adjusted, the glass was installed into a steel trench and epoxied in. With no room for any slight alterations, everything had to be precisely lined up to the millimetre. It was a trial for the glass company involved, says Quentin, with the final product being outstanding.

Thanks to the challenges involved, the art gallery’s feature staircase took around four months to complete, much longer than the company’s standard four to six weeks. As well as working on stairs for public spaces, Top Flyte also designs, manufactures and installs staircases that are suitable for a diverse range of situations – from external stairs connecting to a deck at a residential home to large exterior stairs that create part of a bush walk.

Quentin believes that people are becoming more fluid in their thinking with staircase design and are much more open to new, innovative designs. He is also seeing an increase in the specification of more commercial, industrial-looking staircases in homes, made from hard, tactile materials such as solid steel, glass or polished concrete – all materials that are very popular in architecture today.

“It can be challenging for us to put together a concept that sometimes homeowners can’t even properly illustrate on paper, but we love working closely with clients to achieve their individual vision. The staircase in Tauranga Art Gallery is the perfect example of a complex build where, despite the various issues with construction, the result is stunning. We are very proud of the staircase – it’s almost like a piece of artwork itself.”

Visit Top Flyte’s profile on ArchiPro to see the company’s range of products and discover how the team could help you create a special staircase for any setting.

Underside of the Top Flyte-designed and manufactured staircase at the Tauranga Art Gallery. Image: Patrick Reynolds.
Underside of the Top Flyte-designed and manufactured staircase at the Tauranga Art Gallery. Image: Patrick Reynolds.

Get in touch with
Top Flyte Systems

Request pricing/info
Visit website
Done tagging
Full screen