School Bouldering and Climbing Centre

PrizeGold in Architectural Design / Other Architecture
Firm LocationPfalzen, Italy
CompanyStifter + Bachmann
Design TeamHelmut Stifter,DArch Angelika Bachmann, DArch
ClientAutonomous Province of Bolzano

Given the heterogeneous surroundings of the new climbing centre in immediate vicinity to two large car parks, the challenge was to develop a vigorous design of great symbolic expressiveness. This was achieved by combining an enclosed courtyard with an amphitheatre and a broad green strip separating the building from the car park. The design envisages an uninterrupted spatial sequence whose different sections vary in terms of height and breadth, arranged around the courtyard and the outdoor climbing area, which they define as premium exterior spaces. While the outside façade of the building forms a solid wall, the internal divides and the façade towards the courtyard are all made of glass. From the courtyard, visitors enter the climbing centre via the lobby situated prominently between the lead climbing area and the training area, from which it is separated by internal glass divides. The lobby houses the cash desk, refreshments counter, rental desk, and an office space. On its one side, a staircase provides a link to the other levels, while on the other a gallery forming part of the refreshment area offers fascinating views onto the climbing walls. As access to all of the main areas is situated on the lower floor at Level -1, it was possible to arrange the circulation area, changing rooms, and ancillary rooms in space created underneath the courtyard, giving them a central location and clear layout. Although the design is highly distinctive, clear topographic references mean that the building integrates well with the surrounding landscape. A limited palette of details and materials was used: the solid shell of the building is made of bush- hammered seamless poured-in-place concrete made with a natural aggregate of local limestone. The roof is interpreted as a fifth façade.