Stunning helical staircase shows Angle Ring skills

With over 600 pieces of curved steel Wilkinson Eyre’s spiral staircase in London’s Wellcome Collection was one of the most complex bending projects undertaken by Angle Ring.

The concept of the dynamic helical stair was to create a free-flowing form, travelling from floor to floor without any visually intrusive supports and the £1.1million steel and glass spiral staircase does this elegantly, linking the foyer space to first floor galleries, and second floor library.

Steel was the only realistic option for the stair with its strength, stiffness and its readiness to be worked into complex forms and Angle Ring used a mixture of pressing, cold rolling and a bespoke process created for this contract to form and twist the large steel plates required.

The inner balustrade and soffit of the stair were formed from 8 and 10mm thick mild steel plate with 25mm thick internal ribs which were 4 axis plasma cut by S M Thompson of Middlesbrough.

Due to restricted access the stair itself was produced in 12 separate pieces weighing up to 3.5 tonnes each, with additional sections for the lower bench and ‘fed’ into the building through a first floor window.

To minimise the joints the 3 dimensional curved stainless steel handrail was produced in lengths up to 5000mm long and trial fitted at Angle Ring to a wooden mock up of the glass to ensure an accurate result.

While the stairs complex design was modelled in the latest 3D modelling software, the firm was keen in an increasingly pre-fabricated world to express the handmade quality of its rolled and pressed plates. To emphasize this the outer face was simply shot blasted and clear lacquered while the internal was shot blasted, cold zinc sprayed and then hot sprayed with stainless steel and hand polished creating a raw organic structure.

As a noted design in the 2017 Steel Design awards, steelconstruction.org commented that “The simplicity and tactile nature of the polished whirling form allows the crafted steel of the stair to be displayed and celebrated”
With the Judges commending the staircase as ‘a finely crafted project’, whilst the Telegraph called The Wellcome Collection’s new staircase ‘a sculptural ribbon of steel’

Architect: WilkinsonEyre
Structural Engineer: AKT II
Architectural Metalworker: Clifford Chapman Staircases Ltd
Steel Bending Engineers: The Angle Ring Co Ltd
Main Contractor: Overbury
Client: Wellcome Trust

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