Vertical Gym (Gimnasio Vertical)
Exhibition: Cities | October 11, 2011 by oldadmin
Limited land and high crime rates in the dense informal settlements and slums of Caracas made it unsafe for children to play and participate in sports. Local architects transformed a rundown sports field in Chacao’s Barrio La Cruz into Chacao Vertical Gym (Gimnasio Vertical), a four-story sports, recreation, and cultural event facility. Taking cues from residents who are unable to expand out, the architects built up on the 1,000-square-meter (10,700 sq. ft.) site without displacing any families. The popular new public space, with 15,000 users a month, has helped to reduce crime in this barrio by over 30% by offering a safe, open space that nurtures fair play, tolerance, and a civic community through sports competition.
Based on the initial 2002 Chacao design, UTT developed a building system as a kit of parts in 2004, which allows flexible design and construction. Stacked volumes are reassembled and programmed for different locations in response to local needs. Caracas’s government is constructing four additional Gimnasios Verticals—Baruta GV includes an outdoor market; Los Teques GV has an aquatic sports center; Ceiba GV incorporates a library and metrocable station; and El Dorado GV includes space for informal vendors.
A prefabricated bolted-steel construction system is erected onsite. A ramp provides access at every level, eliminating the expense of an elevator. The latest design incorporates recycled materials, wind towers, solar panels, and rainwater collection to reduce environmental impact and operational costs. UTT is changing the way people think in other parts of the world about sports areas in dense, low-income neighborhoods. Hybrid Vertical Gyms are proposed for several New York City public schools, as well as in Rusaifah, Jordan, and Hoograven, the Netherlands, which is planning a dynamic sport, cultural, and commercial complex.
Architects: Alfredo Brillembourg and Hubert Klumpner, Urban Think Tank, and Matias Pinto D’Lacoste and Mateo Pinto D’Lacoste (Chacao prototype), with Thomas Auer, Ruedi Baur, Felix Caraballo, Jose Miguel Peres, and Ricardo Toro (Chacao); structural engineer: Andres Steiner, Ignacio Carrillo (Chacao); electrical engineer: Freddy Ferro, Antonio Vicens (Chacao). Caracas, Venezuela, 2004–present. Bolted steel structure assembled on site with prefabricated pieces on reinforced concrete foundation slab; exterior materials: galvanized expanded metal mesh, Carbolux polycarbonate translucent opaque panels