A new home was under construction and as the interior design; I allocated specific colour schemes and finishes throughout the home. When I was specifying the finishes for the staircase I created a monochromatic palette with the colours and wanted to add a handrail that would develop harmony, structure, depth and interest. With the architectural design of the home, the top of the staircase had two large floor to ceiling windows positioned on both corners above the stair winders. The view out the windows is extreme and has all day sun. At the top of the stair winder a glass cavity sliding door is positioned. So, basically we had three large glass windows and doors at the top of the stairs in a U shape. [More information…]
We needed a handrail that would compliment the monochromatic palette I had created. A handrail that would not take away from the breathtaking view out the windows. A handrail that would withstand the harsh realities of the NZ sun. Your everyday solid wood handrail would not survive. A fabricated stainless steel handrail would be too much for the small space. We needed something different. I investigated the PSP range of Plexiglas and found a 40mm Clear Acrylic Rod that complied in width and strength. The clear tube could be cut, taped and flamed to allow a continuous handrail as required under the Code of Compliance. The fact it was clear allowed the handrail to compliment and accent the monochromatic palette as well as taking nothing away from the view. The sun would not peel, crack or discolour and the handrail would be very easy to keep clean. The decision was made and we ordered 10 metres of extrusion. Our next problem was the fact the two large glass windows had very little area in between them to install a handrail bracket. We would have to have one specially fabricated. But the templation would prove too difficult and expensive because the exact angle of the opposing handrails would have to be perfect to allow a continuous flow. Fixing and strength issues would also have to be addressed. Our other problem was the handrail would sit 100mm off the wall. At the top of the stairs, where the Cavity slider is this would cause a problem. The homeowner would have to open the cavity slider wider than normal to prevent walking into the top of the handrail. I positioned the handrail to sit within the window frames and prevent the problem of protruding out too far. This also eliminated the need for a specially designed handrail bracket in between the two floor to ceiling windows. I designed and fabricated 4x brackets to sit flush on the inside of the window frame and drilled 42mm holes into which the handrail recessed. This added strength and support to the handrail. The end result was exactly as planned and has made an otherwise dour staircase a feature and talking point. The new homeowners love the new design ideas and say the handrail works perfectly well. They say it is extremely easy to clean, requires no maintenance and reflects light and the sun throughout the stairwell. When the sun meets the top end of the main handrail a rainbow pattern is showered all over the stairs, walls and ceiling. An added bonus of investing in the PSP Plexiglas Acrylic Extrusion.
Damian Hannah Designer
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