The initial request was to address the main path from the road above down to the front door. Initially it was very dangerous with loose slabs which was exacerbated each winter with poor drainage leading to saturation of brick work and damage due to frost. How could we address these problems and provide a much more impressive approach to this property? We also helped the client in developing a plan for their small extension to act as an entrance to their home and work with planning to secure permitted development certification.
Finding a solution that meets the magic stair formula of 2R+G = 550 to 700 (R – step rise, G = tread depth or going) and avoids excessive demolition or construction due to a poor match versus the gradient and lay of the land is key. You will see in the gallery we plotted the existing (yellow) and proposed stair (pink) and overlaid the two to check for a close match. Primarily we moved from long sloping steps of differing heights that were difficult to navigate, to simple level steps with a shorter tread to avoid leading always on the same leg.
In order to confirm permitted development for the entrance lobby, we worked with the client to develop a design that would meet their requirements and then prepared and submitted the proposals to Wealden District Council. Following some discussion with the Planners, all was confirmed and a certificate of lawful development duly received.
Each step was moulded using timber forms. The use of rapid setting concrete enabled the steps to be walked on within a couple of hours, using normal concrete would have made access to the house impossible for up to 24 hours.
We wanted to create a set of floating timber steps, albeit using a composite deck plank to avoid the slippy nature of wood in the wet. Each unit was constructed off site and then placed and fixed to the concrete under flight. I think we achieved what we set out to do; a much improved and elegant approach to the house. The gravel trap to the right of the stair is a new French drain that connects to their storm water drain. Those with eagle eyes will spot, in the gallery shots, the drainage channel at the back of each step to direct the water into that French drain and overcome the problems they had each winter with cascading water.
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