Delving into the landscape of climbing gym architecture, one observes a fascinating duality: while purpose-built facilities do exist, the majority of climbing gyms find their homes within repurposed structures steeped in history and character. While purpose-built structures offer a blank canvas for designers, it’s the adaptive reuse of old buildings that often yields the most intriguing and unique results. In this exploration, we focus on the latter, delving into the world of climbing gyms ingeniously crafted within repurposed old buildings. These structures, with their storied pasts and architectural quirks, provide an enchanting backdrop for the vertical adventures that unfold within. Join us as we uncover the hidden gems of climbing gym architecture, where the spirit of innovation meets the echoes of the past.

Churches and Cathedrals

Repurposing sacred spaces into climbing gyms offers a unique juxtaposition of spiritual tranquility and physical exhilaration. Across Europe and beyond, historic churches and cathedrals have been transformed into climbing havens, where climbers can ascend to new heights amidst centuries-old architecture. The Netherlands, Germany, and the United Kingdom are just a few places where climbers can experience the awe-inspiring beauty of these sacred structures while indulging in their passion for climbing.

Parthian Climbing – Manchester, UK

Brimstone Boulders – Oregon, USA

Shopping Centres & Retail Spaces

Adding a new dimension to the shopping experience, climbing gyms within shopping centres and retail spaces blend adrenaline-fueled excitement with consumer culture. Shopping centres will usually be air-conditioned and have large open centres with a high roof making them perfect for rope climbing centres. From Dubai’s Mall of the Emirates to Singapore’s VivoCity, shoppers can take a break from browsing to test their climbing skills against innovative indoor walls. These gyms offer a dynamic fusion of leisure and recreation, attracting climbers and shoppers alike.

New World City – Shanghai, CN

Climb Central – SINGAPORE

Apartment Blocks and Residential Complexes

In densely populated urban areas, space comes at a premium, leading to creative solutions for climbing gyms. Apartment blocks and residential complexes have become unlikely hosts for climbing facilities, with gyms occupying rooftops, courtyards, basements, and even the exterior of the building. Cities like Hong Kong, New York, and Tokyo are at the forefront of this trend, offering residents a convenient escape from the hustle and bustle of city life without leaving their own buildings.

CopenHill – Copenhagen, DK

Spencer Street Apartments – Melbourne, AUS

Factories, Warehouses & Shipyards

Factories, warehouses, and shipyards stand as testament to humanity’s industrial prowess, their cavernous interiors and robust structures offering fertile ground for creative adaptation into climbing gyms. Take, for instance, the Climbing Jungle in Ballina, built by ICP, masterfully crafted within the confines of an old shipyard along the river’s edge. Such repurposed spaces not only breathe new life into forgotten relics but also offer climbers a unique setting imbued with history and character, where every ascent becomes a journey through time and industry.

Climbing Jungle – Ballina, AUS

Adrenaline Vault – Cockburn, AUS

Dams & Chimneys

Harnessing the power of industrial engineering, climbing walls built into dams and industrial structures offer a unique blend of grit and grandeur. Countries like Switzerland, Norway, and the United States have embraced this concept, converting industrial sites into adrenaline-pumping climbing destinations. Climbers can ascend towering walls and traverse steel beams, surrounded by the raw beauty of industrial architecture.

Trbovjle Smokestack Spire, SLOVENIA

Diga Di Luzzone Dam – SWITZERLAND

The evolution of climbing gyms has led to a proliferation of unique build locations, each offering its own blend of history, culture, and adventure. From churches to shopping centres, dams to military forts, these unconventional locations redefine the boundaries of indoor climbing. Finding the right location for a climbing gym can be a challenge, so we can expect to see even more innovative build locations emerge, further enriching the global climbing community. Get in contact with us if you’re looking to build your next gym in a unique building and our team will be excited to design something to work in a brand new way.