This week we’re stepping up against not so small steps for mankind:
After seven years at TU/e I’ve finally used the steps to enter Vertigo (I’ve been seeing a Built Environment student for a while, otherwise I wouldn’t go there, believe me). If you were to ask me, I’d say those steps have a rather unnatural proportion. There’s no way to go up or down comfortably. What’s the idea behind them: are they really meant for people, or cows?
There are a lot of ideas behind the Vertigo stairs. To let you in on a secret: it’s an actual urban myth machine. Ask five random Built Environment students about the hows and whys of the stretched steps and you’re guaranteed to hear dozens of reasons. Good thing I took the course Structural Design (taught by architect Zjak Hofman) in my freshman year, so you might say I’m somewhat of an expert on steps. You might.
Some claim the low-slope or ‘lazy’ Vertigo steps – steps with a relatively long compared to the riser – were a construction error. But don’t trip: it’s a myth, which probably dates back to the time the black stairway still lacked markings, and then ‘improvements’ were made.
The improvements started a wide range of other stories. Several students claim the stairs were built this way to match De Trappenzaal in Vertigo (a lecture room). The design enables people to sit on the steps while there’s still enough room to walk up and down. Unfortunately, that’s about as true as someone claiming that his 40-year-old, wasted buddy at a karaoke bar should “perform at Lowlands, I kid you not!”
The next step was that walking the stairs is supposed to be an experience. Steps that are an experience, it’s a common excuse that’s also used for TU Delft’s university library. More often than not, it’s an argument brought up by attention-seeking people in book cafes or at study association socials.
For the real reason, I turned to Faas Moonen, associate professor of Structural Design at Built Environment, who actually talked to the Vertigo architect (Bert Dirrix): “The lazy stairs are part of his concept to connect Vertigo staff. Every step of the atypical stairway offers an opportunity to strike up a conversation with a coworker. If someone’s on their way out and bumps into a colleague, they can have a chat on the same level.”
By the way, Mr. Moonen does not share your annoyance, Tessie. He’d like to see more TU/e buildings with lazy stairs, so TU/e people would talk more. He feels such minor investments have fast and spontaneous results, as they lead to new initiatives and an improved cooperation between staff members.
Maybe that’s been the problem all along, Tessie: you don’t feel connected to Built Environment students! Maybe you should try to be nice to them from now on…
PS: Things almost escalated, by the way: MetaForum was supposed to have an escalator.
Do you have a question that deserves a surprise answer? Does your landlord suffer from incontinence, are you confused as to why Vertigo is green, or is there anything else that’s complicating your life at TU/e? Now you can Just Ask Alain!