• Moving stairways to heaven

December 08, 2017

Who'd Have Thought it was possible to recycle escalators? Built more than eight decades ago and only decommissioned earlier this year, the historic Wynyard Station's four wooden treads and combs live on courtesy of artist and sculptor Chris Fox as "Interloop", a 5 tonne sculpture suspended above its replacement.

Screenshot 2017-12-06 14.05.41It took six months to design and engineer and 12 weeks to mass weld and bring it all together. Whilst the wooden treads added an handcrafted aesthetic when operational, their wide slats posed a problem for guide dogs and wearers of high heels.

Screenshot 2017-12-06 14.06.12

Chris Fox says, "Interloop is a project that really talks about past journeys and future journeys - this idea of two stitching stairways that interloop over each other using these heritage treads." Images by Josh Raymond and Chris Fox

This is not the first example of repurposing moving stairways. The infamous Macy's department store in New York underwent a major refit in 2015 and recycled many of its wooden escalators and mechanical parts, but retained the top two floors of sturdy oak and ash underpinning them with modern machinery. They're clunky and noisy but when asked, patrons would rather they creak than disappear altogether. It's history preserved for the sheer pleasure of future generations.

Screenshot 2017-12-06 14.56.31Image courtesy of the Huffington Post.

Screenshot 2017-12-06 14.59.28Who doesn't like to ride the escalators? Particularly nearly-century old escalators. There's a joyous anticipation in ascending and descending that conjures child-like feelings of riding on magic carpets and travelling back through time, a sort of retro-teleporting. 

Screenshot 2017-12-06 15.07.38Macy's escalator images courtesy of the New York Times.

Most of the steel removed in the 2015 refurbishment was added to an existing recycling stream of steel and scrap metal to avoid an increase in transport demands. Instead it was moved along the distribution chain with a regular return trailer. Green and clever.

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