The Verti-Foot: A novel architectural invention.

July 21, 2009

While doing some research on architectural barriers, I stumbled upon this fascinating letter written by an architect in an old copy of “Latest Erections of Architects” magazine:

“I have devised an amazing assembly that will revolutionize the architectural world.  It’s described as a series of horizontal planes or “footpads”, each vertically offset a standard height from the adjacent plane.  Each footpad would be the depth of a normal human foot and of sufficient width to allow passage of at least one but probably not more than 4 adult humans.  This series of footpads will be called a “verti-foot”. Imagine that a pedestrian approaches the verti-foot and places his right foot (or her right foot, there is nothing to suggest that this novel invention could not also be operated by women) on the first footpad. By shifting his weight completely to his right foot, he would increase his vertical elevation by the elevation of the footpad.  The left foot is now free to move to the elevation of the second footpad and the process of shifting weight and increasing his elevation would continue, alternating right and left feet.  Those who are clever and architecturally literate will now begin to see how this contraption could be useful.  For if a significant number of footpads were joined together to create a verti-foot of sufficient vertical elevation, the pedestrian could elevate himself above the height of other pedestrians.  “What usefulness!” I’m certain the police and others involved in security may exclaim as they could elevate themselves to a better viewpoint to keep an eye on crowds or to watch for provocateurs.  But there is another clever potential use that only the more resourceful or commercially minded would recognize: if the roof of a building could be lifted and in its place an additional floor of sturdy wood slats and planking constructed above the “lower” floor leaving enough vertical clearance between to allow passage of a sizable male, a verti-foot could be conveniently located to provide a vertical passageway to the “upper” floor.  Now the floor area of the building has almost doubled without need for more real estate.  I’m afraid that the poor realtor may now see his profits cut in half, but such is progress.  The only possible limiting factor to the verti-foot is that only pedestrians will be able to appreciate its benefits.  Sadly, our brave war veterans and the infirm who find themselves restrained by wheeled chairs will not find much use for the verti-foot since the vertical changes would create a sort of “architectural barrier”.  Perhaps a modified verti-foot, called a “verti-lever”, with slightly angled and continuous footpads that did away with the sudden vertical changes may act as a sort of lever to allow even a wheeled chair to ascend, but this technology is probably not possible even within this industrious century.”

Unfortunately, the author’s name was obscured by a cigarette burn and we will never know the name of this architectural genius….unless I try to find another copy, but really, who has time for that?