This past summer, my husband took me to an indoor top-rope rock climbing class for my birthday. Heights aren’t my #1 idea of a good time but nevertheless I was excited to give it a try. Flash forward a few months and we are both the proud owners of harnesses and belay devices and all that fun stuff. So in short, climbing is awesome, I love it, and you might too.
The typical design of an indoor climbing gym, such as Earth Treks in suburban DC, looks like this:
You’ve got your standard sedona-esque walls in that orange-y clay color studded with bright and irregular hand and foot holds. Technicolor electrical tape marked with hand-scrawled ratings and names shoots out of each knob. These are to mark the courses; if you begin your climb grasping or stepping on a blue hand/foot hold, then you continue up the wall using only the hand/foot holds marked with blue tape. It’s really a unique experience and it’s exciting and satisfying to say the least. I’m not very strong, but lugging around a 30-pound kid for a year has made me strong enough to climb, and that’s a great feeling.
My husband has always said if we had unlimited land and resources he would build his own soccer field. As someone who never was interested in sports beyond 30 minutes of solitude at the cardio gym, I now think that if I had the same luxury I’d build an indoor climbing facility. And here’s the great news: it need not look like a caricature of Yellowstone!
Here are two very design-centric climbing facilities that took the sport and made it visually stunning, while maintaining true function. These are so neat to me, and I’d love to visit one.
The PekiPeki Climbing Center is an indoor bouldering center located in Tokyo. Bouldering is a type of climbing that uses floor pads but no ropes or belay devices; as such, the height is significantly less at usually no more than 15 feet (versus the top-rope climbs that can be up to 50 feet high). It looks like a climbing GALLERY, doesn’t it?
Another wall that caught my attention just this week is at Illoiha Fitness Club in, you guessed it, also Tokyo. It’s in the fashion district, and well, that makes sense. Look at it.
I question whether the frames are moveable, which is kind of essential for a true climbing gym (as you re-route challenges and move them around fairly frequently), but I suppose that’s not the point of this installation. Especially given that the climbers are ascending the wall in business casual garb. Here’s another shot of the wall, designed by Japanese firm Nendo.
I also like the looks of this wall, outdoors in Kathmandu. I love the authenticity, the understated elegance, and the ruggedness of it. This type of installation would fit in an indoor space very seamlessly in the right kind of residence.
Which one is your favorite? …or would you rather have a custom-built soccer field like my husband?