The Vertical Gymnasium Prototype

Exhibition: Network | November 3, 2011 by

The GIMNASIO VERTICAL is a prefabricated construction system installed on the site of a run down, existing inner-city sport field. The design explores a modular and vertical arrangement of facilities for various sports (Volleyball, Martial Arts, Running Track, Weight lifting area, Basketball, etc.). The vertical dimension of the gym structure compensates for 70 ha of lacking sports fields in the slum-areas of the city. The inner city is an area where little open land is available, crime rates and violence are skyrocketing and population densities up to 768 per/ha are common. We believe that practicing sports should not be for a privileged few. Sports and physical activity should be a right of all citizens in the city, no matter what their social and economic background is. With the GIMNASIO VERTICAL we want to create the physical and broad political platform where such activity can happen. There is one Vertical Gym built in Barrio La Cruz and four under construction in Baruta, Los Teques, Miranda and San Agustin, respectively.

The Vertical Gymnasium at Barrio La Cruz (Bello Campo), constructed in 2003 at over 1,000 m2, transforms the site of a former, makeshift soccer field into a fitness complex with basketball courts, a dance studio, weights, a running track, a rock-climbing wall and an open-air soccer field. Indeed, this is an integral leisure facility for this densely populated sector of the city.

The former training ground was located at street level, and due to the densely built surroundings, it could not expand outwards. The solution was to build upwards.

The first of its kind, this Vertical Gymnasium bustles with activity day and night, and welcomes an average of 15,000 visitors per month. Crucially, it has helped lower the crime rate in this barrio by more than 30 percent since its inauguration, according to local community leaders.

The challenge for the new Vertical Gymnasium in 2006 was to introduce the design together with engineer Guy Battle from Battle McCarthy environmental engineers in London as a best practices example that can receive international carbon credit funding to promote sustainable technologies. The new gym now incorporates the use of recyclable materials, wind towers solar panels, and rain water collection as part of the design initiative to make the prototype a responsive design object that complies with the Kyoto protocol.

Today, this new version of the gym is planned for the Barrio of Santa Cruz del Este in the Municipality of BARUTA (Caracas). Basketball courts, a dance studio, weight lifting, a running track, a rock-climbing wall, and an open-air playing field for soccer, combine with a covered area for gatherings. The structure will also be used for cultural, entertainment and conference events.

The Vertical Gymnasium in Los Teques is a new iteration of the U-TT prototype, recreated this time in a satellite town of Caracas. This complex is designed according to international standards of sport activities for people with reduced mobility. The Vertical Gymnasium congregates numerous sport activities in the same space in order to meet the necessities of both serious athletes and the general public. The Vertical Gymnasium in Los Teques also includes a 50-meter long swimming pool and seating for 500 spectators.

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