Endless Stair 2013 - Alex de Rijke

MC Escher inspires St Paul's installation

Alex de Rijke reprises John Pawson's staircase theme for this year's London Design Festival

Two years ago, St Paul’s Cathedral turned itself over to the London Design Festival, hosting an installation by the man it called "the godfather of minimalism" Phaidon's very own John Pawson. Called Perspectives, it comprised a spherical mirror and a lens positioned to give visitors never-before-seen views up and down the spiral staircase of the cathedral’s south-west tower. As you'd expect, it was very impressive and hugely enjoyable to boot. You can read about that project left, and learn more about John Pawson via our books and online content with him

So you can imagine that we were happy to see that this September, LDF returns to St Paul’s – or at least to the space in front of it. The design show has commissioned Alex de Rijke, dean of the School of Architecture at London’s Royal College of Art, to create its headline installation there. And, once again, stairs provide the theme.

De Rijke’s practice dRMM has created the Endless Stair, a complex series of 20 staircases which interlock. It’s an obvious reference to the ‘impossible’ schemes of 20th century Dutch graphic artist, Maurits Cornelis Escher – known as MC Escher – who literally carved a career for himself making mathematically-inspired lithographs and woodcuts. One of his most famous was a seemingly infinite staircase.



dRMM’s Jonas Lencer explained that “Endless Stair is a three-dimensional exercise in composition, structure and scale,”  when he revealed details about the proposed installation at the LDF’s recent press launch. “The Escher-like game of perception and circulation in timber playfully contrasts with the religious and corporate environment of stone and glass in the city,” he added.

Visitors will be able to scramble up and down dRMM’s creation, giving them intriguing views over the Millennium Bridge. The Endless Stair appears to be not only a structural experiment in engineered timber but will test our visual and physical experience of space and perspective. Last, and by no means least, we think you'll agree that it does look like a lot of fun.