Modernise that glass tower with a bike ramp around the outside.

Rational architects don’t usually go in for ramps. The gentle gradients prescribed by building codes, plus requirements for landings and minimum widths, all make for a huge waste of space, where providing disabled access with a lift, takes no space at all. But surely a ramp for bikes can be much steeper than one for wheelchairs? And something like bike parking, can actually exist on the ramp.

Today’s piece of derivative cool-hunting brings you Annie Scheel’s winning entry in Delaware Valley Green Building Council’s bike parking station design competition for downtown Philadelphia. To reduce the gradient, the ramp hugs the perimeter, where it can be longest. Cladding it in glass means circulating bikes animate the facade to the street.

New external ramps will get riders to their office, and shade all the windows.

Seeing Scheel’s design makes me wonder if a regular office block could not fill the atrium. Okay, picture this: post-WW2 office towers having their energy needs reduced through the addition of ramps around the outside. Less energy would be needed to power lifts. Less energy would be needed to power air conditioning. Best of all, seeing the opportunity to ride their bikes all the way to their desks, workers would swap commuting by car, and instead start cycling to work.

I know these ideas may come across as quackery. I offer them only so that the next generation may remember me as the only one of our time who was seeing the future. Thanks kids 🙂

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