As of the 10th of August the community of El Dorado, a municipality of Sucre, celebrated the inauguration of their new Vertical Gym
(VG) 1. The building offers over seven thousand square meters over 7 stories: 4 layered levels dedicated to athletic facilities supported atop a concrete base that offers spaces for local businesses, municipal offices, and the renovation of a pre-existing subterranean parking structure – a model previously proven successful with the pilot project in the neighborhood of Santa Cruz, Chacao, in 2003.
The Vertical Gym covets the title of the largest sports complex in the country and the second innovative prototype developed by Urban-Think Tank (U-TT) led by architects Alfredo Brillembourg & Hubert Klumpner. The project has been presented both inside and outside of the country alongside its local Venezuelan representative José Miguel Pérez Gòmez, and responds to the dire lack of public athletic venues in the dense city of Caracas.
In 2006 U-TT incited curiosity in the forum “Caracas… ¿Qué ciudad somos?” organized by William Niño Araque and the Herrera Luque Foundation at the Celarg by presenting a possible solution that would combat the scarcity of public space with the realization of 100 vertical gym prototypes located around the city. Two more Vertical Gyms are currently underway and include a Physical Education Facility in Santa Cruz del Este under the mayor of Baruta and the other a rendition complete with an Olympic-sized swimming pool in Los Teques commissioned by Norberto Odebrecht Construction (CON) and the Metro of Caracas SA. Ongoing negotiations with Mayor Jorge Paez and the Swiss Consulate are expected to see the construction of an Olympic Gym for the public schools located in various favelas of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The concept of the Vertical Gym was first entered in a national ideas competition hosted by IASA where it became a semifinalist.
Other presentations in the Rotterdam Biennial, the Biennial of Sao Paulo, etc. have validated the urban intervention by translating the real needs of its host communities and the neglect to comply to urban regulations and public facilities into a physical solution that addresses the various spatial and programmatic issues with a successful architectonic design.
The Gym provides alternatives to the call for physical activity in a way never imagined before in the Barrios of the city, open for use by all of its citizens.
Sports, like music, are activities of the utmost importance, especially for the younger population, as an educational and recreational instrument. The values and discipline required of each activity is an investment in our youth that fosters social encounters, communication, and new public spaces. Amongst other projects U-TT has also developed the Music Factory (CCASM) with a team led by Professor José Antonio Abreu, a project recently opened in ‘Paraisopolis’, the second largest favela of Sao Paulo, and was the recipient of the Holcim Award gold prize in 2011 and the Global Award in 2012 for its sustainable construction.
By Daniel Hudson
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