For the post about waste chutes in Copenhagen it was necessary to discuss briefly the conventional or standard arrangement of apartment buildings in the city … with apartments running back from the front to the back of the block and with an entrance from the street with one apartment on each side at each level or landing and the waste chute outside the apartment, usually on the landing between the two apartments … but then in design and in architecture there are always exceptions so its interesting to look at what doesn’t follow the norm.
Sometimes it’s a response to an exceptional situation where the conventional solution is not appropriate and sometimes it’s that business of a designer or architect ‘playing’ with the conventions and sometimes, with hindsight, that twist of the rules is actually the first example for something that gains in momentum and means a complete change in the convention.
So with the business of early apartment buildings in the city having a main staircase and then, in many buildings, a second or back staircase which in the best buildings give a separate route from the kitchen down to the courtyard without going down the best front stairs.
It was a social and a practical nicety to have a polite and a service stair but it was also crucial to provide a second staircase as a fire escape when the main staircase was in wood. As concrete was used more and more in the construction of apartment buildings in the city then having a concrete staircase with iron railings changed the assessment of the risk and gradually second or back staircases are seen as unnecessary and are omitted.
Change can be driven by fashion; evolve through innovative design or be forced through by sensible regulation. Oh and society does have an impact … no one in 1930, tipping their rubbish down one of those new-fangled rubbish chutes, could have had any idea that 90 years later the family in the same apartment would want to separate out paper from glass from food waste … designers and architects have to respond if the way people live their lives changes.