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Photo: René Riller

Bringing the mountains indoors: Climbing centre in Bruneck

Climbing was popular in the Alps for a long time before it caught on at indoor climbing facilities in the cities of Europe and the world. It was thus more or less a logical step when the South Tyrolean town of Bruneck decided to give the trend sport a fixed place in local school curricula. According to the architects Stifter + Bachmann, the new climbing centre on the outskirts of the town is the first in the world to be designed as a school sports facility. Alongside operating as a "normal" climbing centre from morning to night, it is thus used by several school classes on weekdays.   

The building, which was erected for the net cost of approx. € 7 million, is the result of a EU-wide open planning competition held in 2010.  The winning entry by Stifter + Bachmann responded to the site – isolated between sports facilities and two large car parks – with an irregular solitary volume that close itself off to the outside with seamless, limestone-coloured concrete walls while opening up with building-high glass fronts to an interior court at the centre.  A ground level foyer with ticket desk and bar is inserted between the climbing halls, with the main staircase branching off to the right and a balcony-like gallery on the left. The building administration offices are located on the first floor.      

The climbing halls are divided up among the wings at the sides of the foyer and reach all the way down to the basement level. Outside the entrance, where the building is at its highest, enthusiasts can practice on an open-air climbing wall, and spectators can watch them from sitting steps integrated into a wide flight of outdoor stairs leading down from the interior court.  Changing rooms and showers and their access passageways are located below the central forecourt, and have a sunken courtyard of their own to provide them with natural light.  

The outer shell of the climbing centre consists of bush-hammered site-placed concrete incorporating limestone aggregate. The inner "parts" are all the softer in comparison. Soft fall flooring protects the climbers from too hard an impact should they fall. Here again the colour palette offers hues between pale grey and white, while LED-lit ceiling panels designed by the architects provide dazzle-free wash lighting. To ensure a pleasant indoor climate at hot times of the year in particular, the building features a controlled heat recovery ventilation system, thermally activated building structures and a night air cooling system. With heating heat requirements below 30 kWh/m²a, the climbing centre meets the South Tyrolean "Klimahaus A" standard.

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