Portfolio Project Detail

Stairway to Heaven Dustin Columbatto and Matthew Lewis

As cities worldwide have been rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic and the shadow of further environmental catastrophes hangs over them, questions have been raised about the future of metropolitan life. The traditional anchors and benefits of city living are eroding, and Stairway to Heaven aims to address this changing landscape by proposing a new way of approaching space and the function of a building nestled in the heart of London.

Stairway to Heaven is envisioned as a dramatic tower that mixes housing with a variety of program types in an unexpected and diffused vertical space that proposes a new urban typology for London and other dense metropolitan areas. This is done by pulling apart the elements of a traditional high-rise residential tower leaving space between the central core and surrounding unit stacks where different public programs can be arranged in unique ways. The Geometry is built up as a simple unit that is stacked around a more traditional core, twisted and offset as it rises. This results in a proliferation of private terraces with direct outdoor access from each unit. The twisting also creates large, cavernous spaces which are spectacular in themselves, but also filled in with a Piranesian system of platforms and pathways that allow for a kind of urban hiking within the space of the tower, rather than the busy public sidewalks of the city.

The secondary system allows for semi-outdoor spaces that can support program types that suffered during the pandemic, such as restaurants and theaters. Since these spaces are also shared they allow for appropriation and adaptability, and support socialization and emotional well being. The mutability and availability of these spaces make them ideal for denizens of the coworking offices and the housing to break away or have a socially distanced meeting. Outdoor recreation spaces allow for a variety of activities promoting health and wellness. Similarly, this network allows the urban hiker to take in the city through dramatic and shifting views that become all their own and creates experiences right at home that one would otherwise typically need to travel some distance to enjoy.

Stairway to Heaven is designed around the living design principles of Inclusion and Well Being. The public spaces are open to the city, and allow for diverse users. Businesses are encouraged to make use of the terraces and walkways, which in turn support outdoor dining and activities, pop-up business, art exhibitions, and a variety of recreational and athletic pursuits, all in semi-outdoor spaces. Well Being is fostered through the emphasis on greenery, direct access to outdoors, and frequent references to nature.