Shed’s work spaces are designed to keep creatives in the Hackney area, and include offices, studios, a small photography gallery, coffee shop and different spaces for public and private use. Shed is also a collaboration with leading magazine curator, magCulture. The design brief for the activation of the staircase was to spotlight magazines throughout the space.

The design encourages free flowing movement as the public can browse through the carefully selected magazines (and organic wines) that are on display. The unit was created using CNC fabrication to allow for efficient on-site assembly. The use of raw materials in the design, such as Latvian birchwood ply creates a warm contrast to the old concrete in the car park.

“True to the philosophy of Shed, they want creative people to freely use the studio and surrounding spaces,” says Fanni Pesonen, from East West Architecture.

“So, if you’re a public one-off visitor there to pick up some coffee from the coffee shop, you might be intrigued by the curated magazines or about what else the space can offer. If you’re a regular public visitor, you may use the public spaces available as a workspace, you walk by the staircase and you see the rotation of magazines and organic wines and get inspiration from it,” Pesonen says.

“If you’re someone who hires out a Shed studio or office spaces, you walk by the the staircase display daily and use it as a place to stop and have a break, so that you’re really engaging with all that Shed has to offer,” she explains.

The staircase activation was designed as a multi-functional unit, created specifically to sit on the staircase and attach to the wall. It maximises the space available and enhances the presence of the staircase. It creates a space that is more than just a way of getting from one location to another.

The multipurpose unit is fixed on the side of the staircase, which is separated with a railing due to health and safety regulations. People can choose to walk in the lane inside the railing to stop and browse. If you are in a hurry and just want to use the stairs for access or egress, you can use the main staircase space.

“As much as we wanted people to get involved, from a functional point of view we designed the unit so that it doesn’t act as a barrier if someone is in a hurry and needs to use the stairs quickly,” says Pesonen.

If people stop, when they see a magazine they’re interested in, there is a public working area at the bottom of the steps where people can browse, read or buy the magazines.

“We also designed a chair for the staircase, using CNC fabrication, which is placed on the stairs so that people can sit there and browse on the staircase,” she says.

The activated staircase design is about enhancing a space. It’s designed to connect people using the services offered by Shed. People walk up and down the stairs and feel more connected to the overall space. It’s designed to integrate and not interfere with the basic function of a staircase, while making stair travel much more interesting.

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