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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.

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.

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.

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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