How to Incorporate Steel Railings Into the Design

How to Incorporate Steel Railings Into the Design

Railings play two roles in architectural projects, both as a support and safety component in a building, which involves a great deal of technical detailing and accessibility standards, and as an accent element in the design. In this article, we will explore the different ways in which these elements can be used in a project.

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Steel is one of the most common materials in construction, and just like stone and wood, it can be used in many different shapes and sizes, from structures to finishes. Steel can be used as rebar in reinforced concrete, as beams and columns, and also as small self-supporting components such as railings, handrails, and screens.

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Rosa Parks School Complex / Brénac & Gonzalez & Associés. Image © Sergio Gazia

These elements can be composed of a combination of profiles of different cross-sections, bars, meshes, or plates, and often end up being the main feature of the architectural project due to their function, color, or shape. We have selected a few projects showing several ways of incorporating these elements in architecture.

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Pinto Bessa Apartments / depA architects. Image © José Campos

It is worth pointing out that there is a difference between a handrail and railings. While a handrail is designed to provide stability and support when using a stairway, a railing is a fence-like barrier along the edges of an area without walls. By standard, railings must often feature a handrail above them to ensure accessibility and safety, which means that the railings should have a specific height to provide further support. Nevertheless, these two elements can complement each other and blend into the designs, creating unity and a continuous visual language throughout the entire project.

This happens in the CH House / ODDO architects, for example. This house features a railing with vertical slender bars repeated horizontally and topped with a thicker horizontal handrail profile.

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CH House / ODDO architects. Image © Hoang Le photography

This dialog between stronger and softer lines also appears in the Pinto Bessa Apartments / depA architects, but here the handrail profile is a thicker flat bar. The railings are also used in the facade, creating a large steel grid pattern.

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Pinto Bessa Apartments / depA architects. Image © José Campos

Another project that also emphasizes the facade is the Hotel Siro / MOUNT FUJI ARCHITECTS STUDIO, which transforms the building with the addition of railings and handrails.

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Hotel Siro / MOUNT FUJI ARCHITECTS STUDIO. Image © Ryota Atarashi

The project for the La Référence de Ganthier School / Studio PHH Architects combines even more different profiles and uses a bright color that provides visual identity to the project. In addition to the railings, the school also incorporates perforated metal screens on the doors and windows to provide ventilation.

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La Référence de Ganthier School / Studio PHH Architects. Image © Nadia Todres

The Meltcrete Building / Studio Ardete project uses square and rectangular profiles to create a metal structure that serves both as a railing and as an accent element on the facade. The pattern created by the vertical bars acquires a new character through the undulating horizontal line.

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Meltcrete Building / Studio Ardete. Image © Purnesh Dev Nikhanj

In the Rosa Parks School Complex / Brénac & Gonzalez & Associés, the repetition of the rectangular aluminum elements along the stairway handrail creates a unique architectural feature. This same vertical repetition appears gently on the external railing as well.

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Rosa Parks School Complex / Brénac & Gonzalez & Associés. Image © Sergio Gazia

In addition to elongated profiles and bars, another way of introducing steel into railings and handrails is by incorporating perforated screens and plates. The Bonpland Building / Adamo Faiden features a large metal mesh on the facade, like a second skin, while also serving as a railing below the windows.

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Bonpland Building / Adamo Faiden. Image © Javier Agustín Rojas

In the Spark Pavilion / ATMOperation, the metal screen is the main element for dividing the spaces and is given a bright color that contrasts with its surroundings.

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Spark Pavilion / ATMOperation. Image © ACF

A bright color was also used in the Family School / ARKITITO Arquitetura + Oficina umauma + Luiza Gottschalk to highlight the perforated metal plates in the project, which appear along the stairs and also on the balcony.

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Family School / ARKITITO Arquitetura + Oficina umauma + Luiza Gottschalk. Image © Carolina Lacaz

Finally, in residential projects, there is a bit more freedom when designing these elements. In the House in Fontainhas / fala project, for example, the simplicity of the railing and the handrail transforms them into a decorative object, a sculpture that provides identity to the house using only linear profiles freely molded.

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House in Fontainhas / fala. Image © Ricardo Loureiro
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House in Fontainhas / fala. Image © Ricardo Loureiro

A similar solution is used in the Casa Palermo / Yemail Arquitectura but, instead of the simplicity of the previous example, the project features a heavy railing design that integrates with the steel structure of the house.

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Casa Palermo / Yemail Arquitectura. Image © Alejandro Arango

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Cite: Martino, Giovana. "How to Incorporate Steel Railings Into the Design" [Corrimão e guarda-corpo: como integrar elementos metálicos ao projeto] 08 Oct 2021. ArchDaily. (Trans. Duduch, Tarsila) Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/969564/how-to-incorporate-steel-railings-into-the-design> ISSN 0719-8884

Rosa Parks School Complex / Brénac & Gonzalez & Associés. Image © Sergio Gazia

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