Credit: Rombout Frieling Lab

Vertical Walking

Rombout Frieling


Our European population is ageing and our cities have become denser and hence more vertical. Stairs require a lot of effort and can become a real challenge for people as they get older. Elevators seem to suggest that we have given up on finding new ways of using our body (other than pushing the button). However, designer Rombout Frieling believes there must be more harmonious ways to move our bodies through our increasingly vertical habitats. Together with—among others—physical therapists and dancers, Rombout initiated the Vertical Walking project. The end result is a harmonious movement: still entirely human-powered, but only requiring a fraction of the effort compared to stairs. Vertical Walking allows even severely disabled patients, who are unable to use stairs any more, to still move themselves vertically independently. Pilot installations enable people, like Jannie, an MS sufferer, (see movie) to continue living independently in their own multi-storey homes. Most importantly the solution provides much needed movement, exercise, and also a sense of achievement and pleasure for people who are increasingly limited in their abilities. Early studies indicate that the agility and fitness of people using the VertiWalk system significantly increases.

VertiWalk functions independently of electricity and only needs 85x85cms of floor space. The system is self-standing and can be easily installed. Rombout has been approached by thousands of Europeans who would like VertiWalk in their daily lives, but the compliance and certification process for such an unconventional solution is not so easy and requires funding. Rombout has taken on this challenge and any potential prizes will go towards bringing VertiWalk to Europeans in need.


(c) Rombout Frieling lab
With support from: Creative Industries Fund NL; Dyson Foundation


Rombout Frieling (NL) makes matter move man. As a designer, engineer and researcher, Rombout believes we are still stuck in a ‘mind’ driven world: Whereas technologies of the mind (ICT, screens, internet) have developed immensely, we tend to still overlook the potential and the needs of our most precious asset: our bodies.With his team in Eindhoven, he takes on challenges in which the Body can become part of the solution. Rombout is Dyson Innovation Fellow at the Royal College of Art in London.He previously directed the Intelligent Lighting Institute at Eindhoven University of Technology and the GLOW Festival of Light and Architecture.