Friday, November 29, 2013

SAFETY FIRST?


The bureaucratic mind never fails to astonish. This knuckle-grazing handrail not only ignores every requirement for handrail design, but it comes with instructions that the hand rail itself obscures: 'Hold the hand rail.' What else is one supposed to do with it? Admire it? Is there a trick here? One is asked to 'Stay safe' but might trip over the stair whle trying to read this strange request that is partially concealed behind the post of the rail that is supposed to improve matters.

The odd issue is that the identity of the origins of this installation is made clear, as if this might be the whole importance of the work: 'safe + sound' subtitled, 'Everybody everywhere everyday' - yes, with the first upper case letter there too. One can just see fifteen or twenty public servants sitting around the table for a couple of days discussing the name of the Workplace, Health and Safety scheme and how it might be implemented, and ending up very pleased with themsleves, finally reporting up the line on their successes. This looks like the nanny state gone mad. Is there nothing else to do?

The strange circumstance is that here one is being asked to 'Stay safe' when the stair at the entrance on which the handrail has been installed has unequal risers, and a top riser directly at a doorway. Nothing could be more dangerous; but the bureaucrats do not seem to care. They have achieved their outcome: the ticking of the boxes and the installation of the signs.

The handrail is useless. Imagine leaving this building: the hand opens the door and holds it ajar. The first riser has to be negotiated carefully. How is one supposed to reach the handrail? Is there a hand available? Is it possible? Entering this place has all of the same problems. What physical chaos might there be at the top riser when one has to release the hand from the rail, (if it fits), reach for the door and open it in, (one assumes it opens inwards), as one steps over the top riser and moves forward with the door swing.

Good design is much more rigourous and coherent than this installation that is useful only for highlighting everything that good design should never be. Good design facilitates the body's being there, its functions and feelings.

Australians seem to like unnecessary signs: see - 


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