When bike commuters arrive at a new London office building, they don’t have to dismount. As they ride up, the door automatically opens, and they can coast down a ramp directly into a bike parking lot.
For the architects who renovated the space, the design was a solution to one of the common annoyances of riding to work. “As cyclists around the city, we get tired of having to get off our bikes and carry them up steps and stairways,” says Dickon Hayward, associate director at Studio RHE. “We wanted to create a sort of seamless transition to make it as enjoyable as possible to get into the building.”
It was also a way to make a statement. “We made it a key architectural feature of the building, because it embodies values that we think are important–new ways of thinking about transport in the city,” he says. “Our client shared that view. We wanted to make a theater about it, and make it central to the design.”
The ramp is visible from the nine-story atrium in the center of the building, so anyone who comes inside–whether they’re on a bike or not–can see it. It leads down into storage space for 250 bikes, lockers, and showers for anyone who wants to change clothes before heading up to work. It’s all designed to encourage more people to change their commute.
“It makes it easier,” says Hayward. “I think in London in particular, people are put off cycling because when you arrive there’s nowhere to take a shower and nowhere to get changed. By providing those tools I think increasing numbers are going to want to cycle in.”
It’s already happening. Though the building just opened this month, the bike storage area is full. “Even though we’ve got more bike spaces than any other office building in the area, we still don’t have enough,” he says. “The demand has been even bigger than we anticipated.”