We suspect that there are few ventures that have looked at the same range and number of stairs within this country as we observed for ‘Vernacular’. This statement could equally apply to several other artefacts of everyday life that also feature in the book. However, David Straight reserves particular enthusiasm for the discovery of a fine stair.
One of the five images selected as an option to accompany the limited edition of ‘Vernacular’ is a particularly elegant set of stairs on Kaikoura’s shoreline. The powerful aesthetic of these beautiful concrete steps is generated by the combination of the substantial concrete ‘groyne’/wall that backs the stairs, the angled face of loose stone (or rip-rap) that helps keep the road in place, and the natural profile of Kaikoura’s rocky shoreline. This beautifully-composed assemblage of stone and concrete is an especially direct example of the way in which vernacular landscape features can inform design solutions for landscape architecture.
Marlborough also yielded an excellent set of stairs on a much smaller scale that was one of many fine objects precluded from the book on account of space limitations. Leading up to a woolshed near Ward Beach, the dimensions of the steps themselves (which have been cast as an extremely thin ‘stringer’) give them a refined character. The upper platform, galvanised steel handrail and substantial square post (upon which the platform rests) complete a dynamic composition that has been put together with considerable skill.