The first time I went to Metro Rock Climbing Wall in Everett, Mass, the driver assured me (repeatedly!) that he wasn’t trying to kill me and dispose of my body. Metro is sandwiched between a limousine and town car warehouse and some sort of cement storage yard down – take a left at the peanut butter factory down a rutted gravel road, take another left past an overgrown wire gate, and you’re there!
Because of the physical requirements of rock gyms, they’re often located in unappealing places – in industrial estates on the edge of town or far outside the city center. Or, alternatively, they’re located someplace wonderful but the facility is dinky, expensive, or both.
The Castle Rock Gym in London is expensive but hardly dinky; in fact, I think its the best climbing gym I’ve ever been to. But what I love the most about the facility (versus any other climbing wall) is that its actually located in a castle – or, more specifically, a former pumping station built in 1860 to look like a castle. Elsewhere in England, churches have been repurposed as climbing gyms, and of course Europe in general has been enthusiastically re-using buildings for hundreds of years (I got really excited about a grocery store in Ghent for that very reason).
The Castle also has a garden and solar panels, and has set a goal of becoming completely carbon-neutral by 2014 (or something…check their website for more info). They’ve taken an out-of-date piece of infrastructure and turned it into a vibrant and profitable business.
Does anyone else have a favorite adaptive-reuse story? Or am I just a big ol’ nerd?