Climbing walls are usually only associated with leisure and activity spaces, but I believe that they are beautiful in and of themselves as stand-alone architectural features and can be used to decorate vertical surfaces like facades and atriums.
Climbing walls in the Netherlands are often indoors in industrial buildingsbut this doesn’t make sense to me from a design point of view, because climbing walls are meant to emulate mountain climbing experiences which are outside and exposed to the elements.
Since in the Netherlands there are no mountains; buildings are literally the closest thing we have to mountains. This is why I think the walls of buildings in cities are better suited for climbing walls than they are given credit for. If we think of buildings as the Netherland’s only real substitute for mountains then we can come to some new and surprising ideas for design interventions: for example the exteriors as well as the interiors of abandoned buildings can be repurposed as new and beautiful climbing walls.
A climbing wall can also be rotated from indoor space to the exterior. This is a great enhancement for the climbing experience because it can be adjusted to the weather, as well as adding an extra dimension to a building’s facade. In this way you can combine the authentic outdoor climbing experience with the urban context of a building in a city.
A climbing wall is also a great opportunity to test the capabilities of folded metal mesharchitecture which is the best medium for a rotatable climbing wall. The drawing above is a basic rendering of a folding mesh experiment.