When it was time to upgrade the gorgeous–but ancient–wooden escalators at Wynyard Station in Sydney, Australia, the government of New South Wales decided to do something different. Instead of trashing them, they chose to transform them into something completely new. They called on artist Chris Fox to come up with an idea–the result of which is Interloop, a beautiful sculpture that now welcomes users to the transit hub.
The escalators were installed in 1931 by the Otis Elevator Company, which started the entire elevator industry in 1853 and introduced the first commercial escalators in 1899. These escalators were made of wood with extremely thick treads because, at the time, the technology to machine them in thin metal–like escalators today–simply didn’t exist. The treads on these early machines were set so wide apart that they could catch a kid’s finger, and according to Gothamist, similar escalators installed by Otis in 1920 at Macy’s in Harold Square, New York, have sliced off children’s fingers as recently as 2010.
While Macy’s has kept many of its old blood-thirsty antique escalators intact, Fox turned the four escalators at Wynyard into a 164-foot-long, five-ton floating sculpture that twists 244 wooden treads in the air anchored to the ceiling using four of the original escalators combs. As Fox says on his website, he wanted to create “an otherworldly space above people’s heads […] that resonates with [travelers], referencing all those journeys that have passed and are now interlooping back.”
Apparently, it’s working–travelers are already referring to Interloop as “the stairway to heaven.”
Chris Fox ‘Interloop’ 2017 Wynyard Station, Sydney Commissioned by: Novo Rail Program Alliance for @transportfornsw Interloop Project Team: Studio Chris Fox Pty Ltd #studiochrisfox Fabrication Drawings: @__ar_ma__ Engineering: @structure_eng and BollingerGrohamann Engineers Fabrication: @lumark_fabrication Installation: NASS Projects Architects: @coxarchitecture Art Strategy: @culturalcapital.city PR: @_articulatepr Video: David Varga @kill_your_sensor #escalator #wynyardstation #interloop #chrisfoxinterloop #publicart #sculpture #heritageinterpretation #installationart #heritage #memory #travel #contemporaryart #cityofsydney #wynyardescalators #chrisfox
I wish every public or private corporation would approach public space renovations with the same thoughtful and exquisitely creative approach, rather than trashing the old to give way to the new. It may cost more money, but it’s an opportunity to preserve our history and lift commuters’ spirits. That’s the only way we can truly move forward.