Nine Compliance Hurdles Architects Need to Know – #7 When do I need a Step?

When establishing a walkway – whether that be service or private – the key is uniformity where possible. People have a habit of getting into rhythms when walking or travelling across stairs, so regularity reduces the chance of stumbling.

While a ramp can be the best solution for transitioning a gradient, sometimes a series of levels – with a step or two introduced – can be a more efficient or more attractive way to establish a walkway.

Let’s say you’re transitioning between two levels that are 400mm different in height. Since steps need to be regular and within + 5mm, that’s 2x 200mm steps that should be built in so that the user has the best chance of stepping without issue.

It’s worth noting that NZBC D1 Figure 11 determines that the rise between two steps can be no more than 220mm (i.e. for service stairways, up to 47° gradient). If a step or two are the best solution to changing height, then dividing the difference into a whole number of steps each no greater than 220mm is your best bet.

Designing the best buildings can mean jumping through a lot of hoops, so download our full ebook to make sure you know your stuff when comes to architecture compliances.

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