COMPETITION / SHORTLISTED
YEAR / 2013
Under the terms of reference for design and Walltopia’s desire for complete display images of the company and its production capabilities we have tried to broaden the spectrum of potential visitors to their climbing halls and to diversify the climbing complex itself with other sports not included in the assignment. In our opinion climbing is related more naturally to extreme sports rather than to bodybuilding, fitness and aerobics. That’s why we decided to combine several other activities in the project, such as skateboarding, inline skating, freestyle snowboarding and skiing, and dirt jump biking. We decided to use the building and its adjacent park as a common stage for all these sports, so that athletes can be in turn attracted to climbing as an easy to practice four season sport within the city, an alternative to improve their overall physical fitness.
The southern façade of the building (facing the street) is designed entirely for climbing inside and outside in order to show the character of the building and its main use. On the north side, the roof flows into the park, shaping ramps for freestyle bicycle, ski and snowboard jumping. The vertical sections of these ramps comply with regulations. This could be an advantage in case of another round of the World Freestyle Snowboard Cup, like the one organized in 2007 in Sofia, when this building will be the most suitable location to host the event without extra cost for scaffolding. In winter these ramps will be used for skiing and snowboarding, in summer for biking, extending the ramps into pump tracks into the park. By raising the terrain up, the northern façade solves two problems – it improves the energy efficiency of the building, because it practically eliminates the problematic façade, and gains thicker insulation from the green roof, all while bringing a smooth transition between the building and the park.
The choice of materials is dictated by both aesthetic and functional considerations, as well as by Walltopia’s production capabilities. The primary construction is made of steel frames in one direction, which can be prefabricated in factories and assembled on-site. Birch plywood, which the company uses for its primary production and has mastered its manufacture and installation, is consistently used for external cladding. Apart from the required parameters, we have additionally proposed a skate pool, a trampoline and gymnastic foam pit, located in the lobby. Various athletes can improve their skills all year round, creating an attractive active environment for all visitors. Bringing such sports indoors could be potentially become a new market niche for Walltopia, who commands the bending and forming plywood technology, which could be used for manufacturing skate pools and ramps as well. These can be applied elsewhere in a similar type of extreme sports centres.
We recognize the world trends to implement these sports in the urban environment. That is the history of climbing, taken from the mountain and implemented in the city, in the hall. We intend to apply similar non-contextual approach to the landscaping of the park and to highlight the linear beds of agricultural crops – wheat, spelt, lavender, sunflowers – imported from the field into the city makes them stand out and draw attention more than the standard landscape gardening. As to large-size plants, we believe it is appropriate to use species that are indigenous to our mountains.