Parametric Climbing Walls

PCW - Dordrecht - view from the top

Computation technique makes it possible to create complex structures, while fulfilling the promise of a participatory design.

Text & project: ONL [Oosterhuis_Lénárd]

 Powerlines – Powersurfaces


                 Powerlines –  geometric curve objects with unique behaviour – specific to ONL’s designs, underlie the design of a new type of climbing wall. The fluent Powerlines give shape and direction to Powersurfaces, which shape the surfaces of the climbing wall. They organise the surfaces into hundreds of elements and emphasize the specific curvature of the walls, creating a dynamic spatial experience. The dynamic play of lines enhances the perspective of the climbing wall, to give the climber an extraordinary climbing experience. The daylight entering through the roof and facade, in combination with the changing weather conditions create a continuously changing play of highlights and shadows on the Powersurfaces. The colour pallet of the walls is inspired by the natural colours of rock formations, which are very photogenic, even in black and white.

                 Powersurfaces are by definition double-curved surfaces developed through a complete integration of design and construction. In order to do so, ONL has developed a parametric design system that allows the climbers themselves to control the slope of the climbing trajectories. The user becomes co-designer, thus fulfilling the promise of participatory design.

                 The substantial climbing wall in Amsterdam of about 930m² was built within four weeks, where normally a period of 3 to 6 months is the rule. This spectacular time saving was made possible by the parametric design of ONL and the efficient connection of the design to Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) production. The first series of five climbing and boulder walls, spread over two locations in Amsterdam and Dordrecht, has recently been completed.


Wood Innovation Award 2012

           In November of 2012, the Parametric Climbing Wall system has received the Wood Innovation Award 2012 (an initiative of the Dutch Centre for Wood  rewarding innovative wood applications in the building industry). The developed parametric design system, in which design and production are directly linked, adds, according to the judges, to a more widespread application of wood as a building material.

          ONL has developed a parametric design and production system, in close cooperation with Arcadis and Mountain Network, which allows for the creation of free-form, self-supporting scale structures in wood. The system is fully automated to deal with the problematic changes in the direction of the loads that occur in the nodes and contact surfaces with complex free-form geometries. The construction is designed to minimize the number of contact areas, in order to make the complex system easy to build. The optimisation opportunities inherent in the system allow for large spans and canopies. The developed system makes secondary structures redundant, as every element is an integral part of the construction. This offers a broad range of new possibilities for architectural design using wood structures, within a limited budget and time frame.


Credits & info:

 Site: Leerpark, Dordrecht & Laan van Spartaan, Amsterdam, Olanda / the Netherlands

Architectural office: ONL [Oosterhuis_Lénárd]

Design: ONL [Oosterhuis_Lénárd]

Lead designers: Kas Oosterhuis, Ilona Lénárd

Design team: Pieter Schreurs, Gijs Joosen, Miroslav Strigac

Client: Mountain Network

Partners: Mountain Network (dispozitive de cățărare și asamblare / climbing design and assembly), ARCADIS (construcție / construction), Klein Design (producție / production)

Surface: 2146 m²

Completion: 2012