VERTICAL GYMNASIUM CHACAO:
Location: Chacao, Caracas, Venezuela
Client: Municipality of Chacao
Firm: Urban-Think Tank
Architects: Hubert Klumpner, Mateo Pinto, and Matias Pinto
Design Team: Alfredo Brillembourg, Oliver Castañeda, David Racardo Dávila, Efrén Hernández, Eduardo Kairuz, Eduardo Maneses con Aksel Alvarez, Francisco Martin, Ricardo Toro
The Vertical Gymnasium at Barrio La Cruz (Bello Campo), constructed 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—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.
When buildings in the informal city attain a limit for horizontal expansion, further building activity continues vertically. Residential buildings and office structures have always developed this way, yet municipal planners continue to plot sports facilities on a flat map, rendering leisure and recreation unfeasible in settings where surface area is lacking.
When a kid with a basketball and a dream becomes another victim of barrio crossfire, something has to be done. We cannot stop the purchasing, selling, and firing of bullets. But we can create novel spaces, nurturing values such as fair play, tolerance, and civic community; where youths measure up one another in sportive competition rather than in violent street fights,