Arons & Gelauff Architects send me photographs of their recently finished dormitory building in Enschede, a city in the east of the Netherlands. One of the sides of the nine story building features a climbing wall. According to the architect it is the second highest one in the Netherlands.
The addition of the climbing wall is a response to the context of the building. Positioned right next to sports fields, with the wall the building literally absorbs the sports onto its body. The specifications of the wall: 30 meters high, 2500 grips.
“It was a gift from the client to the inhabitants of the campus, because the university of Enschede has a very active and successful mountaineering club — however paradoxical that may sound in the flat Netherlands”, Arons & Gelauff Architects write, “As a climber in the Netherlands, one anyway has to resort to artificially created training spots, so why not combine architecture and climbing wall?”
I suppose the sounds of the climbers right next to the room where you might do your studying might cause some annoyance. However, the idea to combine to combine a climbing wall with building is brilliant. If sound proves to be an issue, it would still be possible to equip for instance an office building with such a wall. The sports could simply start off when the work is finished.
The grips on the wall could evolve into a signage of a healthy (because sporty) working environment. Climbing could turn into our number one sports, when the majority of the buildings would support it. New York would switch from being a city to work in to a city for sports. A leisure city.
Arons & Gelauff Architects is not the first to attach grips to a building. Ten years ago NL Architects turned their Wos 8 powerstation in Utrecht into a vehicle for climbing. The grips on their design spell out ‘Wos 8’ in Braille.
Related: It is also imaginable to climb an iced façade.