A rusty steel ring is gently draped upon a grass hill in Carnisselande, a Rotterdam suburb. It’s a giant circular stair leading the visitor up to a height that allows an unhindered view of the horizon and the nearby skyline of Rotterdam. The path makes a continuous movement and thereby draws on the context of the heavy infrastructural surrounding of ring road and tram track. While a tram stop presents the end or the start of a journey, the route of the stairway is endless.
NEXT architects designed the stair for a local art plan commissioned by the municipality of Barendrecht . Because of its structure, the shape of the object is hard to perceive; every perspective generates a new image with which the design is not only a contextual but also a very literal answer to the given context of the local art plan: an Elastic Perspective.
Based on the principal of the Möbius strip, the continuous route of the stair is a delusion: “We are intrigued by the Mobius strip, by its characteristic of having only one surface, no top nor bottom. When used as a path, it suggests a continuity, but crossing that path is – at least physically – an impossibility. It’s that kind of ambiguity that we recognized in the inhabitants of this suburb: mentally they still feel very much connected to their mother town Rotterdam, but in daily life they are definitively disconnected. With the Mobius strip stair we offer them a glimpse towards the Rotterdam skyline, but to continue their trip, they have to turn backwards, facing the context of their everyday life, Carnisselande.”Rotterdam, by tram just minutes away, but in perception and experience tucked behind infrastructure and noise barriers; far away, so close.