Sofia, Bulgaria / 2012

This proposal is for a twenty-first century brand center for Walltopia, the climbing equipment company. Unlike typical brand showrooms comprised of a neutral container with active contents, this design is an active container with active contents. The proposal re-imagines Walltopia’s artificial “climbing boulders” as giant architectural objects pressing on a synthetic geological climbing surface. As the objects press and nestle into a multi-layered elastic enclosure, the climbing surface becomes articulated with hard and soft features, and a variety of slopes and ravines. The inner liner surface is embossed with glitchy tattoos to imply, at least in part, systems of climbing holds and routes. The result is a space that is abstract and alien, but also discernable as a contemporary climber’s paradise.

Objects in Objects

Based on the formal and organizational model of objects-in-objects, the design offers an alternative to the single-surface problem in architecture, favoring discreteness and tension between elements over unity. The nested crystalline figures enclose support programs, such as retail stores and cafes, while the outer enclosure gathers these figures into a loose whole, creating a vast interior hall. Nested figures become more or less legible as they press into the architectural enclosures with varying force. Parts are never completely resolved into the whole, but rather the silhouettes of parts and whole are experienced simultaneously and produce an ambiguity that is both visceral and ontological: as a things-in-themselves and as a parts-of-something-else.

Multilayer Skins and Slicing

The sack has three layers: container, sub-skin, and liner. Similar to Baroque architecture, these layered skins delaminate to allow for the separate, plastic handling of exterior and interior worlds. Each layer is articulated differently and with a specific material quality. The outer skin is composite construction in matte-white and features fine-grained white-on-white tattoos and super-joints. The sub-skin is a gloss black composite shell with black metaseams; the interior liner is a tactile surface articulated with embossed patterns of lines and dots. The three layers occasionally track one another, while other times they loosen to create thick poché space for building circulation. Slicing operations are selectively made though some or all layers to create apertures or patchy surface effects.

Location: Sofia, Bulgaria
Floor Area: 20,000 SM.
Program: Brand Center
Client: Walltopia, Inc.