In the rural mountains near Polur, Iran, a tiny village at the base of the region’s highest peak, Mount Damavand, a new mountain is emerging. Inspired by how tectonic forces move the Earth’s crust, Tehran-based New Wave Architecture is building a rock climbing gym that in itself resembles a huge boulder.
The white cement of the building’s exterior, shaped with some of the same contours as the artificial climbing walls within, allows the building’s shell to become outdoor climbing routes, while blending into the surrounding snow. Through vast windows, indoor climbers can look out onto the real peak just next door.
In this case, form really does follow function. So many climbing gyms are housed in warehouses that, from the outside, look nothing like the rocky wonderland any climbing gym hopes to evoke within. Bland, industrial surroundings add an extra layer of artificiality to what is ideally a very outdoor, nature-filled sport. Here, at least, there’s a little added spice. If you have to hit the gym, don’t you want it to at least look a little like a mountain?