Old Sewage Treatment Plant Will Become A Huge Rock-Climbing Wall

Go climb a silo.

Everyone’s hot to repurpose abandoned buildings nowadays, but what on earth can you do with a disused sewage plant? You can’t very well convert it into a bunch of artists’ lofts or an office building. It’s a giant windowless vat, for God’s sake.


Leave it to NL Architects, the witty Dutch designers behind this ingenious flipper bridge and these oddly practical Space Invaders-themed apartments, to come up with a deft solution. They want to turn a decommissioned sewage silo in Amsterdam into a swish climbing gym, complete with a facade that doubles as an artificial rock.

Why a climbing gym? Apparently, mountaineering is huge in the Netherlands even though (or maybe because) the country’s dead flat. The Royal Dutch Climbing and Mountaineering Club boasts 55,000 members, making it one of the largest such associations in Europe. Dutch climbers have world-class ambitions but no world-class facilities in which to train and compete. Siloo O would fix that with a slick indoor gym and outdoor climbing routes for both beginners and elite athletes. The hope is that the place could even hosts international competitions.

This isn’t the first time NL Architects has tried to plunk down a little Yosemite Valley in Amsterdam. Three years ago, the architects proposed a climbing gym for a design competition to redevelop two neighboring silos. They lost to a proposal for a cultural center. But the developers still saw lots of potential in a gym, so they invited NL Architects to modify their original plans for a third silo.

As for where the project stands: “We’re looking into feasibility,” NL Architects’s Kamiel Klaasse tells Co.Design in an email. “The clients are quite positive, but there is no fixed [development] schedule.” In other words, no one really knows if this thing will actually get built. But just in case, the Alex Honnolds of the world might want to start brushing up on their Dutch.

[Images courtesy of NL Architects]

About the author

Suzanne LaBarre is the editor of Co.Design. Previously, she was the online content director of Popular Science and has written for the New York Times, the New York Observer, Newsday, I.D.